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Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored perhaps the most important goal of his phenomenal debut season for United, nodding a late winner as Everton were beaten amid dramatic scenes at Old Trafford.
David Moyes' side had turned in a magnificently dogged display to frustrate the Reds for long periods, before Chicharito popped up with six minutes remaining to nod home, perhaps symbolically, his 19th goal of the season and move United three points closer to a 19th domestic crown.
The Mexican's strike prompted a mass outpouring of relief from the home support after a largely frustrating afternoon. Fronted by impressively well-drilled visitors, the Reds squandered a series of first half openings and found Tim Howard in solid form, while Michael Owen also struck the outside of the visitors' post late on.
The Reds might have even suffered worse, had Edwin van der Sar not produced a wonderful fingertip save to deny Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell midway through the second period.
With one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final, first leg trip to Schalke, Sir Alex made the most of the squad at his disposal, resting Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling and naming Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick on the bench. Dimitar Berbatov missed out with a persistent groin injury.
Rio Ferdinand partnered Jonny Evans for only the second time this season, Fabio replaced Evra, Darron Gibson stepped in for Carrick and Giggs’ absence was covered by the returning Antonio Valencia.
Everton, meanwhile, came into the game as one of the Premier League’s form teams, with 14 points from the last 18 available, despite a raft of injuries which again reduced decimated their ranks. Tim Cahill did provide a timely boost for David Moyes, however, as he was deemed fit enough for a spot on the visitors’ bench.