Everton were under the cosh for long periods of yesterday’s FA Cup Final against Manchester United, but did enough to hold them off the scoresheet thereby ensuring their fifth triumph in the tournament.
Forced to defend in numbers, the Blues were able to fashion a number of chances off counterattacks, and it came as no surprise that they handed Alex Ferguson his second defeat in a row to the Toffees after having beaten the Red Devils by a similar 1-0 scoreline earlier in the season in the Premiership at Goodison Park.
Starters (rated out of 10)
Neville Southall - 9
Solid in the air in the face of United’s aerial attack, the big Welshman did excellently commanding his penalty box. Tipped a header onto the bar, a point-blank save off Nicky Butt, a spectacular double save from Paul Scholes and dived well to save Brian McClair’s angled header too.
Gary Ablett - 6
Struggled to handle the attacking threat down the wings and was lucky his two centrehalves were in fine form as was his goalie. Had a chance to score from a corner too but headed narrowly over.
David Unsworth - 7.5
Nicknamed ‘Rhino’, the young defender had an impressive game handling the physical threat of Mark Hughes. Has certainly made the centrehalf spot his own this season.
Dave Watson - 8.5
The captain was inspiring, never putting a foot wrong all game long, leading his troops on boldly. It was his interception that launched the only goal of the game, and was in the right place at the right time every time United threatened his goal. Did get caught out of position a couple of times, especially after the introduction of Ryan Giggs and Scholes.
Matt Jackson - 6
Hard to be too harsh on Jackson as Giggs is enough to give any fullback in the Premiership a handful, but he struggled to contain his man all game long, with Lee Sharpe also getting the better of him in the first half. His saving grace however was his integral role in the only goal of the game.
Barry Horne - 7.5
In a primarily defensive role, the boyhood Evertonian had a hard time trying to support the fullbacks while ensuring the Red Devils didn’t dominate the midfield, which they did anyway. Got in a couple of crunching tackles and timely interceptions of his own.
Joe Parkinson - 7
Parkinson gave as good as he got in the middle of the pitch, letting Paul Ince know early on that he would not be intimidated. Decent performance from the midfielder.
Andy Hinchcliffe - 6.5
Unusually reserved performance from the man with the wand of a left foot. Struggled with an Achilles issue all season long and didn’t look fully fit for this game either. Was at his best with his dead-ball delivery though.
Anders Limpar - 8
For long periods of the first half, he was Everton’s key orchestrator. While he was supposed to play out on the right, he kept cutting into the middle and did not shy away from taking the ball and driving the Blues forward. Eventually ran out of steam late in the second half, but a strong showing from the Swede.
Graham Stuart - 7.5
Diamond will be bitterly disappointed to have not had a goal in this one. He had two gilt-edged chances, and will be relieved that at least one of those did end up in the net thanks to a fortuitous bounce. His running and effort were important in relieving pressure on the beleaguered Blues defence.
Paul Rideout - 7.5
Failed to make much of a mark on United’s twin towers of Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister, but in true fox-in-the-box style was on hand when Stuart’s shot bounced back off the underside of the bar and he did well to head home the winner.
Duncan Ferguson - 6.5
Coming off an injury, the lanky Scotsman did his best to make a menace of himself after replacing Rideout as a second-half substitute.
Daniel Amokachi - 6
Wasn’t quite able to make the impact he did in the semis against Spurs, and had a late chance to make it 2-0 but spurned it after dawdling on the ball for too long.
Joe Royle - A
Calm and composed throughout, Royle got it right for the second time in a row against Alex Ferguson. He had his gameplan down pat, had the players suitably prepared and motivated and deserved the result he got in the end.