Football: Sheringham sheds pressure

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The Independent Online
Everton 0 Manchester United 2

Teddy Sheringham, by his own admission the pressure mounting with every game he did not score, got his first goal for Manchester United last night. The hiss you heard could have been Everton's season deflating, however, as much as the heat being turned down on the pounds 3.5m striker.

The previously unsteady Teddy opened his account for his new employers who moved on to the shoulders of the Premiership leaders, Blackburn, with a win so easily acquired it bordered on embarrassing. Everton's three home games have yielded just Saturday's fortuitous win over West Ham and yet another hard winter appears to face Goodison.

"That's the best performance of the season so far," Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said. "The penetration of Ryan Giggs opened the game for us and allowed more space for Sheringham and Paul Scholes to operate. We were a dangerous team tonight."

At the end, the home team were greeted with boos but, more pointedly, a section of the crowd applauded United, an almost unknown gesture for a team who are up there with Liverpool in the Goodison litany of ogres. But for overelaboration the visitors might have trebled their score, while Everton managed only long-range and hopeful pot-shots at Peter Schmeichel.

Most of these came in the opening 25 minutes when Everton's toil and their opponents' crossed wires gave the former a flimsy command. Gary Speed (twice), Duncan Ferguson and Danny Williamson all had a go, but only Graham Stuart forced the goalkeeper into real action, diving to his right.

Once United had scored, after 28 minutes, however, you could forget Everton as an attacking force. Gary Neville's long throw was criminally neglected by the Everton defence, and when Paul Scholes's miskick on the left of the area turned from shot to centre, Beckham rose at the far post to head over and past Neville Southall.

Sheringham missed an opportunity soon afterwards prompting the knee-jerk "what a waste of money", but he added currency to his move from Tottenham to United with his opening goal for the club after 50 minutes.

Crossed wires rather than fired crosses had been the theme of United's attacks but everything gelled in dramatic fashion when Giggs tore down the left and then pulled the ball back. Sheringham had begun to wear the look of an over-anxious man - too much care with passes, making sure with his shots - but he was decisive this time, thumping past Southall.

The extravagant celebrations were those of a relieved man. "I'm pleased for him," Ferguson said. "Any striker wants to score for his new club as early as he can. He's missed a few chances but that will have done him a lot of good."

Sheringham could have had another but his 79th-minute shot was blocked by Southall, one of host of chances United squandered as they paraded their party pieces. The way Everton played, it did not matter.

Everton (3-5-2): Southall; Watson, Bilic, Short (Branch, h-t); Barrett (Thomas, 65), Stuart, Williamson, Speed, Phelan; Barmby (Oster, 65), Ferguson. Substitutes not used: Farrelly, Gerrard (gk).

Manchester United (4-4-2): Scmeichel; G Neville, Berg, Pallister, Irwin; Beckham, Keane, Butt, Giggs; Sheringham (Cole, 78), Scholes. Substitutes not used: Poborsky, P Neville, McClair, Van der Gouw (gk).

Referee: B Lowe (Doncaster).