Everton Hands Manchester Utd. First Opening-Game Loss in 8 Years

Marouane Fellaini scored the only goal as Everton gave Robin van Persie a losing start to his Manchester United soccer career.

Fellaini, who created problems throughout for United’s defense at Goodison Park last night, beat makeshift center-back Michael Carrick to a corner kick and put a downward header into the net in the 57th minute.

Dutch striker Van Persie, signed from Arsenal last week for a reported 22 million-pound ($34.5 million) fee, came off the substitutes bench in the 68th minute as the record 19-time champion began its Premier League campaign with a defeat for the first time since it lost at Chelsea in 2004.

“They were without some central defenders, but I did think Fellaini caused them problems,” Everton manager David Moyes told Sky Sports. “It’s not often you beat Manchester United, so I’ll enjoy it.”

Belgian international Fellaini hit a post in the first half and United goalkeeper David de Gea twice saved from Steven Pienaar as Everton pressured a visiting team missing injured defenders Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans. De Gea also pushed Leon Osman’s shot away and produced a diving stop from Leighton Baines’s free kick.

Everton again went close to opening the scoring three minutes after halftime. Fellaini headed Tony Hibbert’s cross down into the path of Osman, whose volley crashed off the underside of the crossbar and back into play.

Set-Piece Goal

Fellaini rose above Carrick to head his team into the lead from Darron Gibson’s corner kick. Van Persie, who led the Premier League with 30 goals last season, began warming up almost immediately after the goal and came on seconds after Phil Jagielka preserved Everton’s advantage by intercepting Tom Cleverley’s shot on the goal line.

With 12 minutes left, Van Persie crossed to fellow new signing Shinji Kagawa. The Japanese midfielder was thwarted by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard and the home team held on for the victory.

It was only the fourth time in 21 Premier League seasons that United failed to pick up any points from its opening game.

“Fellaini is a handful,” United manager Alex Ferguson told MUTV. “He’s a big, tall, gangly lad and they just lumped the ball towards him all the time. That’s all they did and they worked it from that base. But he got the goal for them, so it’s justified.”

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