Everton 1-0 Man Utd
Everton tightened their grip on fourth place in the Premiership as Manchester United were reduced to nine men in a fiery clash at Goodison Park.
Duncan Ferguson, who scored Everton’s winner in their last league victory against United 10 years ago, headed home after 54 minutes to sink United.
And Sir Alex Ferguson’s men ended the game in shame as Gary Neville and Paul Scholes were sent off after the break.
Neville saw red for kicking the ball at a spectator and Scholes for two fouls.
Everton employed Ferguson up front, and it was a tactic that worked to perfection as he rolled back the years to terrorise United.
But it was former Everton star Wayne Rooney – roundly jeered on his second return to Goodison Park since his contentious move to Old Trafford – who almost broke the deadlock after only six minutes.
He tested Nigel Martyn with a powerful 20-yard drive, but the veteran Everton goalkeeper was equal to the task.
Everton were competing fiercely all over the pitch, in sharp contrast to their tame FA Cup defeat against United earlier this season.
Roy Keane and Tim Cahill were involved in a series of collisions, but it was Everton’s Mikel Arteta who was first to be booked by referee Phil Dowd after a series of infringements.
Wes Brown came to United’s rescue to stop Everton taking the lead after 32 minutes, clearing Cahill’s overhead kick off the line after Joseph Yobo’s header caused confusion in the penalty area.
The game was swinging from end to end and Martyn had to show safe handling eight minutes before the interval to hold on to a drive from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Rooney carved out an opportunity for Scholes after 48 minutes, but Martyn produced a crucial block for Everton.
Ferguson, who had earlier clattered United goalkeeper Tim Howard, was then cautioned for a wild challenge on Darren Fletcher.
But he was the hero rather than the villain after 54 minutes, meeting Arteta’s free-kick with a trademark header to send Goodison Park wild.
United pressed for an equaliser, and Martyn was again forced to parry a powerful drive from Ronaldo with 20 minutes remaining.
Ferguson’s side were then reduced to 10 men when Neville ridiculously kicked the ball at a spectator and was shown a straight red by referee Dowd.
Rooney was carrying the fight to Everton, and he was inches away from an equaliser with Martyn well beaten.
And as United slumped to defeat, Scholes was also sent off for a second bookable offence, a wild kick at Kilbane.
Everton: Martyn, Hibbert, Yobo, Weir, Watson, Carsley, Bent (Osman 76), Arteta, Cahill (McFadden 86), Kilbane, Ferguson (Beattie 80).
Subs Not Used: Wright, Vaughan.
Booked: Arteta, Ferguson, Hibbert.
Goals: Ferguson 55.
Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown (Silvestre 72), Heinze, Fletcher (O’Shea 76), Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, van Nistelrooy.
Subs Not Used: Smith, Fortune, Carroll.
Sent Off: Gary Neville (72), Scholes (90).
Booked: Scholes, Ronaldo.
Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).