Wayne Rooney fired Manchester United to victory with his first goal at Goodison Park in eight years, but his day was tinged with sadness following the death of Howard Kendall.
Rooney ended his 11-month wait for a Premier League away goal on Saturday in United’s 3-0 win at Everton.
The 29-year-old rolled back the years to race through the home defence and clip the ball past Tim Howard after being played through by Ander Herrera.
It was just his third goal at Goodison since leaving his old club, but he did not feel like celebrating.
The announcement of Kendall’s death at the age of 69 before kick-off meant boyhood Everton fan Rooney was in an understandably sombre mood.
“It was very sad news,” the United captain said.
“I spoke to (Everton first-team coach) Duncan (Ferguson) this morning about it. It’s a sad day for Everton.
“I’m sure everyone at the club feels it, and I’d like to pass on my condolences to Howard’s family.”
Kendall won the league as a player with Everton and then went on to manage the club three times.
In his most successful period in the mid-1980s, Kendall led Everton to two titles, the FA Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup.
The news of his death led to an understandably subdued atmosphere inside Goodison Park and that seemed to affect the home players, who went 2-0 down inside 22 minutes and never looked like coming back.
Morgan Schneiderlin scored his first United goal after some slack marking at the back post, and the unmarked Ander Herrera nodded in Marcos Rojo’s cross to double the lead.
From then on, United shut the game out, limiting Everton’s chances before Rooney killed the game off in the 62nd minute.
Asked if Kendall’s death had an effect on his players, Everton manager Roberto Martinez said: “I wouldn’t want to think so.
“It was the worst shocking news and everyone was really sad but we wanted to change it around and make it a real celebration.
“Howard was such an iconic footballer and what he achieved as a manager will always be an inspiration.”
Louis van Gaal felt Rooney had answered his critics with his second league goal of the season and backed the forward to carry on finding the net for the rest of the campaign.
“You are always doubting him,” the United manager said in his post-match press conference.
“He scored now. I am very happy for him. For me it is not important if he scores or not scores.
“He has to be an attacking point and do his job in the defensive organisation.
“I am also happy when Herrera is scoring and (Anthony) Martial is scoring. Maybe it is the start for many goals because he needs this goal, I think.”
When pushed to pick out one player for praise, Van Gaal singled out Herrera, who scored the second and had a hand in the other two goals.
The Dutchman said: “I have seen a lot of individual players today who are playing very good but that is also because the result is very good.
“When I have to mention one name, I have to mention Ander Herrera. He played very well and had a great contribution with the goals.”
Van Gaal felt the win was just what United needed following their dismal 3-0 defeat to Arsenal before the international break.
“It is more than a response. That is an understatement but I cannot find another word,” he said.
“It was very difficult to prepare this match because we have lost against Arsenal in a horrible way.
“I have a lot of meetings, individual and team meetings, 10 or 15 between Wednesday and this match and then you have to decide who is playing because of the opponent and the state of your players.”