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A five point gap at the top and a new record as officially the meanest consecutive defence in English League history were the reward for Manchester United as Cristiano Ronaldo‘s first half penalty secured a big win for the Champions.
Ronaldo was lively in the first half, stabbing against a post from 20 yards, while Tevez saw his close range strike tipped over by former United keeper Tim Howard. But it was the impressive Michael Carrick who really caught the eye with this latest imposing performance in the centre of the midfield.
And Carrick was the architect for the games only goal, being tripped by Mikel Arteta for a penalty right on half time. Arteta and Everton could have few complaints about the decision, and referee Halsey even waited for Carrick to completely lose his balance before awarding the spot kick. Ronaldo made no mistake from 12 yards and saw a potential opportunity to score another penalty refused by Halsey early the second half, as Carrick again appeared to be impeded.
Everton had been handed the boost of Tim Cahill and Marouane Fellaini both being cleared to play but in truth despite plenty of endeavour by the visitors, the clean sheat record that was awaiting Edwin van der Sar was more of a formality than he may have expected.
With this game reportedly being the start of an ease to United’s injury concerns Sir Alex Ferguson can look back at a hugely successful January, and look forward to this afternoon’s fixture where his club will be the winners no matter what happens.