Premier League - United collapse gifts Everton draw
Eurosport - Sat, 11 Sep 14:47:00 2010
United seemed to be cruising to all three points despite the absence of their scandal-hit striker, having come from a goal down to lead 3-1 thanks to strikes from Darren Fletcher, Nemanja Vidic and Dimitar Berbatov.
Rooney was left out of the United squad to protect him from expected abuse from Everton supporters in the light of his personal problems which surfaced during the past week.
The move denied the home faithful a chance to heckle their former favourite but even had Rooney started, the boos would soon have been drowned out by cheers as Everton raced out of the blocks and dominated the opening exchanges.
United struggled to get any kind of foothold in the game with Everton, who were playing without a recognised striker, barely affording them a second on the ball.
Arteta landed a sixth-minute free-kick on the top of Edwin van der Sar's crossbar to signal the hosts' intent but before too long United slowly dragged themselves back into the game.
John O'Shea's thunderbolt out of the blue that cannoned off the bar came after United's first sustained period of possession on 15 minutes, although Leighton Baines should have put Everton into the lead on 28 minutes when he made a hash of a close range effort.
The game began to ebb and flow a little more after half an hour of play but it was United who would have opened the scoring had it not been for the excellence of Everton keeper Tim Howard.
The former United man pulled two saves right out of the top drawer to keep his former employers at bay, first getting a boot to repel Paul Scholes's deflected shot and then clawing away Ryan Giggs's effort on 38 minutes.
Everton used the saves as the springboard to go on and take the lead, Pienaar breaking the deadlock after slack United marking allowed Arteta to run through on goal. The Spaniard's initial effort was well saved by Van der Sar, but Leon Osman's composure on the rebound saw him find Pienaar, who had the simple task of slotting into an empty net.
United's response to going behind was devastating. Two goals in the space of five minutes either side of half-time, both created by Nani, stripped the hosts of their advantage and put United into the lead.
The equaliser came on 43 minutes, Nani delivering a pinpoint cross from the right to find the run of Fletcher, who expertly turned the ball past Howard from close range.
Berbatov nearly made it two just before the break with a beautifully timed volley that flew inches wide of the post before the unmarked Vidic did hand United the lead with a downward header from another accurate Nani cross.
Nani was denied his own entry on the scoresheet soon after by another big Howard hand before Berbatov lashed home with a flash of the outside of his left boot after Sylvain Distin was caught out by Paul Scholes's lovely through pass.
Despite efforts that went close by Baines and Osman, United seemed home and dry as the referee's assistant held up the board indicating three minutes of injury time to be played.
But a typical Cahill header gave Everton hope before Arteta brought the house down with a deflected effort from the edge of the area that Van der Sar could do nothing about.Mike Hytner / Eurosport