Everton rallies to draw 4-4 against Man United
MANCHESTER, England (AP) -- Manchester United's charge to the Premier League title was halted after conceding two late goals in a 4-4 draw at home to Everton on Sunday.
Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar scored in the final seven minutes to salvage a point for the gallant visitors, allowing Manchester City to move within three points of United thanks to a 2-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers later Sunday.
"It's a throwaway, an absolute giveaway,'' United manager Alex Ferguson said. "We just needed to see the game out and it's a travesty because some of our football was fantastic.''
United striker Wayne Rooney equalized against his former club with a header in the 41st after Nikica Jelavic's 33rd-minute opener, and Danny Welbeck and Nani scored after halftime to put United 3-1 up.
Marouane Fellaini made it 3-2 with a 67th-minute volley but United seemed to be cruising to victory when Rooney scored his second in the 69th, only for the dramatic late twist.
City reignited the title race by beating Wolves 2-0 and the crosstown rivals meet at City's Etihad Stadium on April 30. The teams have two more games each after that.
"We've given them (City) the initiative, no question about that,'' said Ferguson, who blamed uncharacteristic defensive lapses for the dropped points. "It makes the game at the Etihad a really important game - it makes it the decider, really.''
Everton manager David Moyes was delighted with the spirit his side showed.
"Absolutely brilliant,'' he said. "The players didn't half put a show on today, they really did.''
Everton, looking to recover from the disappointment of losing to crosstown rival Liverpool in the FA Cup semifinals a week ago, started brightly, with Fellaini stationed behind Jelavic to pressure the United midfield.
"We lost a big game last week and today was a chance in front of the telly and playing another big game to stop people thinking that our season is over,'' Moyes said.
Winger Leon Osman was at the center of Everton's early creativity, releasing Jelavic in the fifth minute, only for United 'keeper David De Gea to smother the shot.
Everton deservedly took the lead when Tony Hibbert swung a deep cross into the box from the right. Jelavic looped a header over De Gea and into the far corner for his seventh goal since joining Everton in January.
Ferguson was visibly fuming on the bench and United almost hit back a minute later when Paul Scholes' shot following a corner ricocheted off bodies in the box and was grabbed desperately by Everton's American goalkeeper Tim Howard on the goal line.
United had a penalty appeal turned down when Osman seemed to clip Rafael Da Silva in the 38th, but finally leveled when Nani stepped inside his marker and centered for Rooney to head home from close range.
United looked more comfortable after the break and went in front when Welbeck stepped inside John Heitinga and curled his shot into the top corner from the edge of the box in the 57th.
Nani added the third goal three minutes later, when slick interplay with Welbeck and Michael Carrick released him to lift a delicate finish over Howard.
Everton refused to surrender however and Fellaini reduced the deficit with a neat volley from Hibbert's cross.
Rooney notched his second just two minutes later, sweeping into the net from Welbeck's pass for his 26th league goal this season, taking him past former greats George Best and Dennis Viollet on the club's all-time list.
However, that was still not enough for United. After Evra hit the post with a diving header, Jelavic again put the result in doubt when he capitalized on confusion between Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand in United's defense to make it 4-3.
With the clock ticking down, Pienaar completed the comeback with a close-range finish from Fellaini's pass.
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