Greater movement, better pace and patience and two clinical finishes from Martial and Lingard condemned Everton to a second successive defeat and just two points from twelve over the holiday period.
Goodison’s first offering for the New Year saw the visit of Manchester United albeit without Romelu Lukaku due to a head injury sustained in their game against Southampton.
Needing to bounce back from two sub-par performances away to both West Brom and Bournemouth, Blues fans were looking for Sam Allardyce to find a lot more from both his midfield and attacking options in order to get the New Year off to a flying start. The manager selected a starting line-up of: Pickford, Martina, Williams, Keane, Holgate, Davies, Schneiderlin, Vlasic, Rooney (c), Bolasie and Niasse.
For the opposition, when themselves have been stuttering of late and falling way off the pace set by crosstown rivals City, Jose Mourinho without Lukaku, Ibrahimovic and the suspended Young opted for: De Gea, Lindelof, Jones, Rojo, Shaw, Herrera, Matic, Mata, Pogba (c), Lingard and Martial.
In charge of the late game of the day was referee Andre Marriner.
A lively start to the game saw Yannick Bolasie beat Lindelof down the left and throw in an early cross. Vlasic and Holgate then combined neatly down the right to find Rooney for the shot that was deflected for the first corner.
The visitors seemed content to let Everton have the ball early on although whenever Matic got the ball, he appeared to have too much time and space to try and get them moving forward.
Herrera brought Davies down on a quick throw out by Pickford, from the free kick Rooney found Vlasic who picked out Niasse with United happy to concede another corner.
United’s first real chance came when Martial played a one-two with Shaw to send in a low cross that Pickford got down to and the defence was happy to clear unceremoniously.
From the half hour mark, the game finally began to open up and a De Gea clearance picked off by Martina was instantly played to Bolasie who found Davies but his shot was blocked.
Pogba fired in a shot from thirty yards that Pickford was happy to tip round the post for a corner. From the set piece, a fine header from Niasse sent Bolasie away down the left to beat two defenders only for the cross to come to nothing.
Rooney then found Vlasic and he relayed the ball onto the overlapping Holgate, but his cross was disappointing and an easy gather for De Gea.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Rooney was booked on 42 minutes for a foul on Martial after he’d turned sweetly to lose Keane, but referee Marriner angered the home crowd when he failed to show Lingard a yellow when he clearly brought Schneiderlin down from behind.
The Blues had had a decent first half but hadn’t managed to register a shot on target and this continues to be a worrying factor.
Half Time: 0-0
United gave fair warning right from the start of the second half when Mata had an early shot tipped over and five minutes later he exchanged passes with Herrera before crashing in a 25-harder that hit the far post.
With Everton guilty of sitting too deep, United duly opened the scoring on 56 minutes as they broke quickly on a poor ball from Rooney for Pogba to feed Martial for fine finish from the edge of the box.
Aaron Lennon for Bolasie and James McCarthy for Rooney were 61st minute changes, but United were on top and it needed a fine save by Pickford to deny Pogba after he waltzed through the Blues rearguard.
Everton picked their game up and put United under some pressure but were unable to get in a telling cross or shot to trouble De Gea.
Mata brought Lennon down from behind, again with no card shown and Rashford replaced Martial on 76 minutes.
Pickford again had to go full length to deny Lingard, but two minutes later the United forward scored a quite excellent second off the back of sheer pace that took him past two defenders and a stunning shot.
Calvert-Lewin replaced Niasse on 81 minutes before Holgate was yellow carded for a foul on Lingard that incensed Pogba who was also booked for his petulant retaliation.