Everton’s late season revival continued on Sunday with a thrilling Premier League win over Manchester United.
Roberto Martinez’s side recorded a fifth win in six league games as they won this fixture for the third consecutive year.
James McCarthy’s counter-attacking goal and John Stones’ header had them 2-0 ahead just after the half hour. Kevin Mirallas beat the offside trap to score with 16 minutes remaining.
United missed the chance to go second.
But they remain ensconced in the Champions League spots, seven points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool, who have a game in hand
On United’s last visit to Goodison, a spectator dressed as the ‘Grim Reaper’ was ejected for loitering behind David Moyes during the 2-0 defeat that marked the end of his tenure as the club’s manager.
Despite Sunday’s reverse, Van Gaal has no such fears but the Dutchman may have concerns over the manner of this loss.
All three Everton goals – while well executed – were entirely avoidable.
McCarthy burst between Daley Blind and Paddy McNair who could only make timid challenges before converting coolly, Stones beat Antonio Valencia too easily in the air to fire in the second, and both Valencia and McNair switched off to allow Mirallas a free run at the exposed David De Gea for the third.
Further angst could be found in United’s apparent inability to capitalise on their possession.
Denuded of Michael Carrick by a calf problem, Van Gaal’s side were ponderous and became reliant on speculative efforts from distance by Marouane Fellaini and Blind.
The coach withdrew Fellaini at the interval – the former Everton player having been booked for persistent fouling in spite of Van Gaal urging him to maintain his composure – and Juan Mata just after the hour, with Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria being brought on.