Marouane Fellaini capped a superb display as his header gave Everton a 1-0 victory over Manchester United at Goodison Park.

Fellaini had been a threat throughout the game as he exposed United's injury-hit defense that featured Michael Carrick alongside Nemaja Vidic in the middle. After several chances for both sides, the imposing Belgian got the only goal with a fine header just before the hour mark.

Despite Robin van Persie's arrival off the bench to make his debut, United were unable to make the breakthrough as they began their quest to reclaim the Premier League crown in disappointing fashion.

Pivotal in United's concession of the crown to Manchester City was a 4-4 draw late in the season against Everton. Fellaini had been a key figure in Everton's comeback on that day and he gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side an early warning of his quality on Monday night. The powerful midfielder burst past makeshift defenders Antonio Valencia and Carrick in the inside left channel before firing against the outside of the post from a narrow angle.

The effort was a sign of what was to come in an engaging evening of entertainment. Nani quickly looked to provide something special as he picked the ball up more than 25 yards out and attempted to place a curling shot into the bottom corner, but just sent it drifting wide of the upright.

Everton continued to give as good as they got, however. A fine passing movement led to Nikica Jelavic getting through in behind, but the Croatian could only fire at the legs of De Gea from an increasingly tight angle.

From the resulting corner, United goalkeeper David de Gea could only punch the ball out to Steven Pienaar whose header forced the Spaniard to back pedal and tip over the bar.

Back at the other end, former Toffee Wayne Rooney tried to irritate the Everton fans further with two efforts on goal. First he forced a diving save from Tim Howard from a central free-kick 20 yards out. Minutes later he controlled a Nani cross before firing a shot straight at Howard on the turn.

It was Howard's opposite number, De Gea that was getting the tougher examination, though. Pienaar tested him once more with a low curling effort from the edge of the box past a host of bodies that meant De Gea did well to get across and prevent the ball sneaking in the bottom corner.

Another chance quickly followed. New signing Shinji Kaagwa showed his quality with a perfectly-weighted through ball to find Danny Welbeck, but, under pressure from Everton defenders, the forward put his shot inches wide as he fell to the turf. There were appeals for a penalty, but it would have been a harsh decision.

The end to end nature of the clash continued as Everton went straight up the other end and, from Fellaini's head down, Leon Osman forced a fine one-handed save from De Gea from a fierce shot.

The half ended fittingly with yet another save from De Gea. One-time reported United target Leighton Baines struck a fine free-kick from close to 30 yards out just to the right of center that De Gea did well to get across and make an unorthodox save with his "wrong" left hand.

The second half picked up right where the first left off. Less than five minutes in, Fellaini again caused problems with his aerial threat to nod the ball back to Leon Osman who lashed the ball toward goal and finally beat De Gea but the effort crashed back down off the cross bar.

United broke straight up the other end and Kagawa played another fine through ball to find Welbeck once more, but an excellent sliding challenge from Phil Jagielka on the edge of the box ended the danger.

After so many close calls the goal finally arrived in the 57th minute and there was no surprise in the source. Fellaini rose comfortably above Carrick to power a header down into the corner of the net from former United midfielder Darron Gibson's corner.

Unsurprisingly, the drama did not end there. 10 minutes later United looked certain to equalize as Valencia's cross somehow evaded being put into the net before Kagawa laid the ball back to Tom Cleverley whose shot was incredibly blocked on the line by Jagielka.

With just over 20 minutes left Ferguson introduced his headline-grabbing signing Van Persie in an effort to try and find a way back into the contest.

The former Arsenal player almost made a big impact too as he crossed low toward Kagawa at the near post, but Howard came out well to snuff out the opportunity.

It was to be the last chance of a breathless encounter that showed Everton as a potential surprise package this season and reminded Ferguson of the need to get his injured defenders back fit as soon as possible.

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