Manchester United recovered from their derby-day humiliation to return to winning ways thanks to Javier Hernandez’s first-half goal at Everton here Saturday.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were far from their best, but it was about earning the result rather than the performance and that was achieved thanks to Hernandez’s fourth goal of the season.
The win maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Manchester City, who thrashed their rivals 6-1 last time out.
But normal service was resumed at Goodison Park, with the visitors surviving few scares to earn a first win at the Toffees since 2007.
Ferguson vowed there would be a response and made five changes from the side that suffered their Manchester derby drubbing.
Nemanja Vidic was recalled to the Manchester United defence as Rio Ferdinand was among those to pay the price for the heaviest home defeat since 1955.
Ferguson was keen to address a defence that had conceded more chances, and goals, than normal as he sought some protection for goalkeeper David De Gea.
Yet the reshuffle still failed to stop the Spaniard being called into action with just 16 seconds on the clock.
Seamus Coleman’s jinking run took him inside two defenders, only for the Irish winger to shoot straight at a relieved De Gea.
It set the tone for an open start to the game, with Ferguson’s decision to include a three-pronged forward line underlining his intent to attack.
Danny Welbeck, one of the trio, found himself pushed out wide although a surging run and cross found Park Ji-Sung whose close-range shot was gathered by home goalkeeper Tim Howard with just three minutes played.
But dominance followed and that finally saw the visitors take a 19th-minute lead via Hernandez.
A fluent passing move saw the ball switched to Patrice Evra and the full-back’s cross found its way to an unmarked Hernandez as he swept into an empty net for his fourth goal of the season.
It was the response the Manchester United manager wanted, and would have expected.
Whether it was the early kick-off or the demands of facing the champions less than 72 hours after a League Cup tie with Chelsea that went into extra-time, Everton looked flat and short of energy that has served them so well against the same opposition in recent times.
This was all in stark contrast to the visitors, who dictated play and forced the home side, missing the injured Tim Cahill, on the backfoot.
The home crowd were becoming increasingly restless as they watched their side chasing shadows for long periods.
They finally had something to shout about when Leon Osman collected Marouane Fellaini’s header to drive straight at De Gea in the 36th minute.
If that was a warning, then Jack Rodwell issued an even bigger one seconds later as his driving run and shot flew inches past the post.
Everton’s first sustained concerted period of pressure continued and they could count themselves unfortunate not to have hauled themselves level in the 40th minute.
After Vidic had blocked Fellaini, Leighton Baines’ 25-yard free-kick was lifted over the wall but bounced off the underside of the crossbar and to safety.
Ferguson would have been pleased for the respite of the changing room as the visitors began strongly once again after the half time break.
But Everton were still creating chances as Rodwell’s shot was palmed out by De Gea in the 52nd minute.
It was the turn of Ferguson’s side to soak up the pressure and look to hit on the counter-attack, with Welbeck’s shot forcing Howard into a smart save on the hour mark.
But the visitors survived few scares to hold out, despite being far from their best, to claim a vital win.