Premier League

Fellaini helps Everton upset United

Highlights of Everton's upset victory over Manchester United.
Highlights of Everton's upset victory over Manchester United.
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LIVERPOOL, England (AP)

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Manchester United made a losing start to the Premier League season on Monday, crashing to a 1-0 defeat at Everton as Robin van Persie endured a dismal debut.

Marouane Fellaini capped an impressive performance by heading in a corner from former United midfielder Darron Gibson in the 57th minute.

Tom Cleverley came closest to leveling for last season's runners up, but his shot was cleared off the line by Everton defender Phil Jagielka.

Signing Van Persie from Arsenal last week was meant to provide the additional firepower United needs to regain the Premier League title from rivals Manchester City.

But the Netherlands striker, who cost a reported 24 million pounds ($38 million), failed to even hit the target after coming off the bench in the 68th at Goodison Park.

It was the first time Alex Ferguson's side has lost a league opener since 2004.

Injuries, though, meant there were just two recognized defenders in United's back four, with winger Antonio Valencia deployed at right back, and midfielder Michael Carrick alongside Nemanja Vidic in the center.

And a string of fine saves by United goalkeeper David de Gea prevented Everton from being in front by half time.

Fellaini, playing just behind striker Nikica Jelavic, was the dominant force in United's penalty area.

The Belgium midfielder had already headed over Leighton Baines' corner before he collected a throw-in and turned into the penalty area, holding off Carrick, to hit the post from a tight angle.

He turned creator, chesting the ball back for Steven Pienaar to slice a shot wide, and then knocked down a cross that Leon Osman hit on the turn only for De Gea to bat away the shot.

De Gea also denied Jelavic, tipping over a long-range header from Pienaar, and prevented Baines' deflected free kick sneaking into the top corner.

United striker Wayne Rooney had a quiet night as he marked 10 years since making his senior debut for Everton, hitting two shots too close to goalkeeper Tim Howard, and seeing a late first-half header punched clear.

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After the break, Fellaini's header across goal was smashed against the crossbar by Leon Osman but his contribution was rewarded with a goal in the 57th.

Van Persie's arrival meant Rooney shifted to the left, but it was another new signing, Shinji Kagawa, who made a bigger impression. The Japan playmaker forced Howard to race off his line to block his run and shot.

And Everton held on to record just its fourth home win against United in 21 Premier League games. Fellaini was quick to pay tribute to the team effort as they won their opening fixture for the first time in five seasons.

"It was a good goal, it was a good cross, a good corner. It was good for me and for Everton," Fellaini told Sky Sports 1.

"Everton had a lot of chances in the first half and we had to keep going and hoped the team scored.

"I think everybody was motivated. Manchester United is a great club. Everybody is motivated, and I think today everybody played well."

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