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Published: 17:34 | 3/4/16

Martial strike beats Everton

United record triumph at Old Trafford

Anthony Martial netted the only goal in a 1-0 Premier League victory for Manchester United over Everton at Old Trafford.

Following a relatively quiet first half, Martial turned home Timothy Fosu-Mensah’s low cross to break the deadlock.

A Phil Jagielka header struck United’s crossbar as part of a concerted Everton effort to find an equaliser but the hosts held on to secure the win.

The victory brings United to within a point of fourth-placed Manchester City, with both sides having played 31 games.

Everton’s defeat severely dents Roberto Martinez’s slim hopes of bagging Europa League qualification through table position. The Toffees, though, can still gain European football for next season via the FA Cup.

United had the better of the first period on Sunday afternoon, going closest early on when a Martial strike deflected off Leighton Baines and narrowly missed the target, before the Frenchman was later denied by a superb John Stones tackle.

Everton, however, produced plenty of their own attacking endeavour in the first period, with lone striker Romelu Lukaku a persistent threat.

The Belgian had Danny Blind for company for most of the first period, and the Dutchman stuck to his difficult task to block his direct opponent’s close-range effort a few minutes into the second half.

Almost immediately following the let-off, substitute Fosu-Mensah burst onto Marcus Rashford’s clever feed and played a ball across the static Everton backline, with Martial taking advantage of a Seamus Coleman error to net despite the best efforts of Joel Robles.

The Toffees went within inches of quickly bagging an equaliser when Jagielka’s diving header from a Gerard Deulofeu corner smacked David de Gea’s crossbar.

Everton pushed hard for a leveller late on, with Jagielka having an awkward strike from six yards saved by de Gea, Tom Cleverley unable to convert a decent chance, and a dangerous low cross from Coleman being turned away by Fosu-Mensah.

Louis van Gaal’s men held firm on a celebratory afternoon for Old Trafford and its inhabitants, with the South Stand having been renamed the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand prior to the clash.

In a season that has seen the Dutchman receive fierce criticism, the campaign could still end on a significant high. The Red Devils, like Everton, remain in the FA Cup, while the fight with local rivals City over Champions League qualification looks set to go down to the wire.

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