London: Everton made a mockery of the Premier League table as they beat Manchester United 3-0 in fine style on Sunday to dent the visitors' hopes of direct entry into the Champions League.
Everton's Belgian striker Kevin Mirallas (L) scores past Manchester United's Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea (2R) to make it 3-0 during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison park on April 26, 2015. Pic/AFP
Had United won at Merseyside, they would have climbed into second place. But this defeat, their third in as many league visits to Goodison Park, left Louis van Gaal's side fourth in the table with four matches to play as goals from James McCarthy, John Stones and Kevin Mirallas saw Everton rise into 10th place.
Only the top three teams in the Premier League at the end of the season go straight into the first round of the Champions League, with the side finishing fourth facing the unwanted prospect of a qualifying round.
And United are not yet certain of fourth, given they lead Liverpool, who are fifth, by seven points having played a game more than their bitter rivals.
United manager van Gaal said his side, who've now lost eight league matches this season, had been out-fought by Everton.
"We have always had more fighting spirit on the pitch and I think that this is the first match that the other team have shown more of that than us," the Dutchman told Sky Sports.
"This was the first match when I saw a team that was more motivated and aggressive than us. It is not good, but we are human beings."
Van Gaal, whose team featuring former Everton favourites Wayne Rooney and Marouane Fellaini were repeatedly undone on the counter-attack, added: "We have to see that our opponents will defend more and cope with that as a club. Everton deserved to win -- when the result is fair, you can live with it."
Meanwhile delighted Everton manager Roberto Martinez said: "I thought we were well worth a three-goal lead and that speaks volumes. To keep the concentration for 90 minutes and keep a clean sheet was magnificent."
It took Everton, who kicked-off 24 points behind United, just five minutes to open the scoring in front of their own fans as McCarthy surged between flimsy challenges from Paddy McNair and Daley Blind before his low shot beat United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Everton doubled their lead 10 minutes before half-time when Stones powered in a header from a corner that beat both de Gea and Ashley Young, stationed on the line.
The second half saw a 74th-minute goal from Belgium international Mirallas secure Everton's victory.
Ross Barkley's ball forward appeared to be aimed at the offside Romelu Lukaku. But Lukaku, showing impressive awareness, opted out of receiving the ball and, with United waiting for a flag that never came, the onside Mirallas raced beyond his team-mate and swept the ball in, with referee Andre Marriner letting the goal stand.
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