Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal diverted praise to teenager substitute Timothy Fosu-Mensah after his introduction helped inspire a win over Everton that boosted his team’s Champions League prospects.
Van Gaal threw on the 18-year-old left-back for struggling Argentina defender Marcos Rojo at half-time and the switch paid off as Fosu-Mensah set up striker Anthony Martial for the only goal.
United’s 1,000th Premier League goal at Old Trafford completed back-to-back wins, following last month’s victory at Manchester City, and kept them just one point behind their neighbours in the race for fourth place.
“I think Rojo had a problem with his jet lag, so I changed him,” said Van Gaal. “I saw the space on the right side and I said to Timothy that you have to take profit of that. When a player does that it is a bit of luck for the manager but every credit is for Timothy, not the manager.”
Martial’s 13th goal since a £36m summer move from Monaco ensured that United marked the renaming of the South Stand after Sir Bobby Charlton with a fitting result.
Neither side registered a shot on target in the first half but Martial scored just nine minutes after the restart when he turned in a deflected low cross from Holland Under-19 international Fosu-Mensah.
Everton defender Phil Jagielka came closest to equalising soon after with a header that hit the crossbar but the visitors were unable to avoid slipping to a third consecutive league defeat.
Toffees manager Robert Martinez defended his campaign and insisted his players had a bright future after the travelling supporter booed off their team.
"We all are [booing]. I think you could hear our boos in the dressing room. It is exactly the same,” he said.
"We are a club that there has been a bit of a change of generation. A lot of players have come in but incredible young talent needs know-how and lessons and to develop.
“The frustration we all have is we can see the quality we have in our squad and we can’t really gain some sort of momentum. But 1984 is the last time we got into the semi-finals of the two domestic cups and this generation can make us very successful.”