Manchester United were able to record victory over Everton on Sunday thanks in the main to a superb display of shot-stopping from David de Gea, who earned praise for his performance from opposite number Tim Howard.
De Gea saved a first-half penalty from Leighton Baines, the only time the England full-back has ever been denied in the Premier League, and was later able to preserve the lead that had been restored by Radamel Falcao with some breathtaking interventions in the closing stages.
The most stunning of all the Spaniard’s stops came from a crisply struck drive by Bryan Oviedo, which had been heading for the top corner to clinch a point for Everton until De Gea tipped the ball over the crossbar. It is little wonder the club want to extend and improve his £52,000-per-week deal.
The diversion of Oviedo's shot proved to be decisive from the Manchester United goalkeeper, and Everton No.1 Howard was quick to offer his congratulations on an inspired performance after the final whistle had been blown at Old Trafford.
"Tim Howard came up to me after the game and said I had played a fantastic game,” De Gea told the official Manchester United website.
He added: “I didn't win the match. It was the team who won the match. We scored and defended well. It was about the team and not just me."
World Cup wonder
Howard himself may have endured a substandard start to this fledgling campaign, but the experienced ‘keeper is well placed to offer his assessment of a first class individual display following his World Cup heroics.
The 35-year-old made a World Cup record 16 saves during the USA’s second round encounter against Belgium and, despite his side eventually falling to a 2-1 defeat, Howard was the player to emerge with most credit from either side.
He came something of a viral sensation with countless memes and parodies created in his honour, while the former Manchester United player also earned a phonecall from US president Barack Obama to thank him for his valour.
But Howard has been devoid of this inspiration since returning to Goodison Park for the domestic season, having already made a string of costly mistakes as Everton have struggled to find any consistency.