Their two most glamorous summer signings had scored, Manchester United's enviable array of attacking talents had chalked up another win but, as the final whistle was about to go, one name rang around Old Trafford.
“David de Gea,” chorused the supporters. When the points were procured, the Spaniard responded by turning to the Stretford End and punching the air.
The story of United's season encompasses the ever-present question of whether their excellence in the opposition's half will be undermined by their defensive deficiencies.
Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao struck, imported superstars illustrating the new United ethos of trying to bring in the best. Yet this represented a nervous escape, courtesy of De Gea and an unlikely ally.
The Spaniard starred in added time of either half. He was the difference between the teams.
"Of course," Louis van Gaal said. De Gea now has the distinction of saving a Leighton Baines penalty in the Premier League, robbing the Everton left-back of his 100 per cent record.
Then, to acclaim from the supporters, he thwarted substitutes Leon Osman and Bryan Oviedo in spectacular style.
A side with a soft underbelly possess a superb goalkeeper.
It is just as well.
Three of the back four began with a total of five previous United appearances between them.
Two were teenagers.
Everton may be depleted and tired after a 5,000-mile round trip to FC Krasnodar in a remote part of Russia, but they possess resilience and an ability to fashion chances.
United’s defensive injuries were compounded by a discrepancy in the selection.
Only Daley Blind of the diamond in the centre is actually a specialist central midfielder.
Di Maria is a revelation; if, indeed, the most expensive player in the history of British football can be deemed a revelation.
He opened the scoring with precision and his past four games have yielded three goals and three assists.
The Argentine can even create goals when he doesn’t mean to; for the second time in three appearances at Old Trafford, a miscued shot resulted in another scoring. Falcao was duly grateful.
Yet Van Gaal’s recurring theme is that Di Maria – and everyone – can do more to help out his porous rearguard.
In a lacerating post-match criticism, he argued that progress has not been made. United endured a fraught finale against West Ham last week. They did so again, and this time without what he called “the excuse” of playing with 10 men.
We have given four big chances away,” he said. “Four.”
His idea is to stop attacks at source, not see potent strikers standing next to De Gea, serving as the insurance policy. Falcao’s contribution came in the form of a goal-line clearance from Phil Jagielka’s header.
A minute later, the Colombian scored. Yet his withdrawal was significant, too; he became a microcosm of United’s attacking imbalance.
They had difficulties with the diamond as it left them undermanned on the flanks. James Wilson was summoned to replace Falcao and track the marauding Baines.
Everton ended defeated and depleted, losing the injured Steven Pienaar and John Stones.
They hover on the edge of the relegation zone, having played virtually all of the contenders and won a solitary game.
Overachievers last season, they may now have a solitary high flyer.
Steven Naismith has outscored any of the “Gaalacticos” this season.
Yet his fourth of the campaign was sandwiched by Di Maria and Falcao’s goals and De Gea’s saves.
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