Sublime strikes from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard ensured Manchester United returned to winning ways with a 2-0 victory at Everton.
After United’s 2017 came to a close with three successive draws, it looked as though a familiar tale was brewing after a sluggish first half at Goodison Park.
However, United upped the ante after the break, with Martial curling in a beauty from the edge of the area in the 57th minute before Lingard scored in similar fashion with nine minutes remaining.
Captain Paul Pogba provided the assist for both goals, and it was his man-of-the-match display that helped lift United back into second place in the Premier League table, 12 points behind leaders Manchester City.
Everton: Pickford (6), Martina (6), Keane (6), Williams (6), Holgate (6), Schneiderlin (5), Davies (6), Bolasie (6), Rooney (5), Vlasic (5), Niasse (5)
Subs: Lennon (6), McCarthy (6), Calvert-Lewin (n/a)
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Lindelof (6), Jones (6), Rojo (6), Shaw (7), Matic (7), Herrera (6), Pogba (8), Mata (7), Lingard (8), Martial (7)
Subs: Rashford (6), Blind (n/a), Tuanzebe (n/a)
Man of the match: Paul Pogba
A slow start to the game saw Mason Holgate send a header over before Ander Herrera opted to dummy a cross down the other end, but no United team-mate was behind him to meet Pogba’s cut-back.
A vital interception from Marcos Rojo prevented Oumar Niasse from getting an attempt on target for Everton, while Toffees ‘keeper Jordan Pickford could only tip Martial’s cross away before Cuco Martina made the clearance.
United were on top towards the end of the first half, but Pogba and Herrera saw attempts from outside the area deflect wide.
Wayne Rooney came in to captain the Toffees against his former club – one of seven Everton changes. Meanwhile, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera and Anthony Martial started for United, with Ashley Young (suspended), Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (both injured) out.
After the break, United found their groove, with Mata stinging the gloves of Pickford before his delightful effort from distance clipped the outside of the post.
A dominant spell eventually paid dividends for United when they scored from a counter-attack, with Pogba picking out Martial, who set himself on the edge of the area before curling his effort beyond Pickford.
United then survived a brief Everton onslaught – Niasse going closest with a header – before Lingard bent in the all-important second goal after ghosting past Michael Keane 20 yards out.