Hernandez keeps United on track for title

Manchester United 1 Everton 0

Javier Hernandez headed home an 84th-minute winner to send Manchester United to the brink of a record 19th league title.

The Mexican had come closer than any other United player to breaking the stubborn resistance of an Everton side who could have had a couple of penalties and for whom goalkeeper Tim Howard was outstanding.

But additional heroic performances from Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin counted for nothing as Hernandez rose to meet Antonio Valencia's far-post cross.

The striker powered in his 19th goal of a sensational debut campaign to send United into the Champions League semi-final with Schalke in winning mood and knowing if they can avoid defeat to Arsenal and Chelsea in their next two league games, they will surely knock Liverpool off the perch they have occupied for so long.

Faced with a familiar selection poser, knowing the following four games, starting with the first leg of that Champions League semi-final against Schalke in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday, would shape his side's season, Sir Alex Ferguson came up with a typical mixture of solid and experimental.

Jonny Evans was fortunate referee Peter Walton did not view his tackle on Jermaine Beckford as a foul midway through the opening period and Darron Gibson's normally reliable long-range shooting was way off beam.

However, back in the dug-out after completing his five-match touchline ban, Ferguson could be reasonably pleased with his side's first-half efforts, save for the fact they did not actually score.

The time when picking Hernandez was viewed as a gamble has long since passed and predictably, the fast-moving Mexican was the hosts' biggest threat.

In Howard though, Hernandez was faced with a goalkeeper who has special reason to do well at this venue given he enjoyed three seasons with the Red Devils until joining the Goodison Park outfit, initially on loan, in 2006.

Ferguson's concern about the American had more to do with his concentration levels than any problems with ability.

And Howard proved his worth after 25 minutes when Hernandez was sent sprinting through by Anderson's slide-rule pass and let fly from an acute angle.

Howard plunged to his right to make an excellent save by his near post.

The American's next effort was even better as he beat away another Hernandez effort after the striker had been set up by Valencia and Wayne Rooney.

Hernandez then did Howard's job for him eight minutes from half-time.

Valencia's superior strength allowed him to shove Leighton Baines off the ball and roll a pass back to Nani, who had already wasted one early opportunity by taking too long to decide what to do.

This time, Nani went for goal straight away. He would surely have found it too had the ball not struck Hernandez, who had slipped as he made his way in the penalty area, and deflected harmlessly away.

There could barely be any discussion about who was on top.

Everton manager David Moyes could take pride in his team's battling qualities, which were exemplified by the stoic defending of Jagielka and Distin, who managed to get in the way of an Hernandez cross that was about to give Fabio a tap-in.

Moyes had even more reason to admire the manner his side started the second period as United failed to rouse themselves.

The introduction of Tim Cahill helped and how Rio Ferdinand got away with shoving second substitute Victor Anichebe over when the Everton man had outpaced him in a race towards the United goal was difficult to fathom.

Everton's luck was also out midway through the half when Jack Rodwell let fly from the edge of the area with a shot that took a deflection off Evans and was heading for the bottom corner until Edwin van der Sar got the slightest touch.

The fluidity had disappeared from United's play, so they dug into their reserves of self-belief.

Distin turned a Fabio cross onto his own post before the introduction of Ryan Giggs, then Anderson got no power at all into a 10-yard shot after being offered a decent sight of goal.

The hosts' momentum gathered pace. Rooney's free-kick tipped over by Howard. Valencia's thunderbolt cannoning into Jagielka. Another brilliant Howard save to deny Hernandez.

Could Everton hold out when so many others had failed? Hernandez ensured the answer was rather predictable.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn