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Around The Uk

BBC Five Live's Mike Ingham
With a round up of the action
 real 14k

Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Man Utd force destroys Everton

Denis Irwin prepares to challenge Everton's Paul Gascoigne
Everton 1-3 Man Utd

Manchester United delivered a Goodison Park masterclass to leave Sir Alex Ferguson's champions in the familiar position of Premiership pace-setters.

United unleashed a three-goal first half blitz that destoyed Everton to demonstrate the massive gulf in quality on show.

Nicky Butt broke the deadlock - and Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer added further goals in an opening period of irresistible football.

Everton staged a fightback after half-time, but it was never more than a token show of defiance and United always looked to have more firepower in reserve if required.

Our first half performance was brilliant and in the second we showed real character. I don't think there was much Everton could do
  Sir Alex Ferguson
The only blot on United's landscape was a late back injury to goalkeeper Fabien Barthez which forced the France World Cup and Euro 2000 winner out of the action with twelve minutes remaining.

It was an impressive show of strength by United, as Ferguson rotated his forces once more and still came up with a winning combination.

United's boss rested midweek Champions League hat-trick hero Andy Cole, and was also without the injured Jaap Stam and Ronny Johnsen as well as suspended captain Roy Keane.

But all line-ups come alike with Manchester United in this mood - and Everton were simply outclassed in a devastating first half.

Paul Scholes in combat with Paul Gascoigne
Solskjaer and Paul Scholes both went close inside the first five minutes, and it was the start of a tidal wave of attacks Everton never looked capable of resisting.

The only surprise was that it took United 25 minutes to go ahead, and it came from the unlikely source of Butt.

If you stand and watch Manchester United play you will get beat - and we did. There is no excuse for it and we must reflect on that
  Walter Smith
Solskjaer played the role of provider with a right wing cross that Butt steered home deliberately via his midriff.

And three minutes later the game was effectively over when Giggs took advantage of a brilliant break by Teddy Sheringham to score.

Sheringham raced through the heart of Everton's defence to bring a brilliant save out of goalkeeper Paul Gerrard, but Giggs slotted home the rebound.

United's Nicky Butt escapes Everton's Alex Nyarko
It took Everton 33 minutes to even bring Barthez into the action, when he easily collected a snap-shot from United old boy Mark Hughes.

United's response was instant in the shape of a third goal from Solskjaer.

Beckham's control and pass left the Norwegian - who scored four against Everton at Old Trafford last season - with the easiest of tasks to score past the under siege Gerrard.

Ferguson reacted to the luxury of a three-goal interval lead by giving Dwight Yorke a taste of the action as replacement for Giggs.

Everton replaced the struggling Stephen Hughes with David Unsworth - but this was only an exercise in damage limitation.

Solskjaer (left) and Sheringham celebrate United's win
Solskjaer wasted a glorious chance to score United's fourth before Everton grabbed at a lifeline.

Gravesen, Everton's most impressive performer, escaped the attentions of United's defence to steer a composed finish through the legs of Barthez from Steve Watson's pass.

Everton's efforts were based more on perspiration than inspiration, and United showed they were still on cruise control as they broke forward and almost added a fourth when Yorke struck a post.

United suffered the late disruption of losing Barthez, replaced by Raimond van der Gouw, but they eased home in relative comfort.

Everton: Gerrard, S. Watson, Weir, Alexandersson, Nyarko, S. Hughes, Jeffers, Dunne, Gravesen, Gascoigne, M. Hughes. Subs:Unsworth, Campbell, Simonsen, Gemmill, Moore.

Man Utd: Barthez, G. Neville, Irwin, Beckham, Butt, Sheringham, Giggs, Scholes, Solskjaer, Brown, Silvestre. Subs: Cole, P. Neville, Van Der Gouw, Yorke, Wallwork.

Referee: Dermot Gallagher (England)

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