United suffered a second successive defeat and a third in a row at Everton as the Toffees surged to a deserved win.
We missed the chance to move 10 points clear of Liverpool. but with a seven point cushion with four games to go, maximum points from the remaining fixtures will guarantee a top three finish.
The final 3-0 margin is a little harsh on the Reds but there can be no debating that Everton were hungrier, quicker, stronger and were simply the better side on a chastening afternoon for the Reds.
Once again we dominated possession but, unlike at Chelsea, we never looked like scoring and failed to recover from James McCarthy's fifth minute goal.
Marouane Fellaini fired a third minute effort over the bar against his old side, but, within 90 seconds Everton took the lead as a superb counter attack involving Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley was finished off by a cool finish from McCarthy after he burst between Daley Blind and Paddy McNair.
Blind's speculative effort from range was as good as it got for timid United, who were once more deprived of injured midfield playmaker Michael Carrick.
Had United reached the interval just the one goal behind, the outcome may have been different but the Toffees took a two-goal lead ten minutes before the break.
John Stones beat Antonio Valencia too easily to meet a Leighton Baines corner to power home a header for his first senior goal.
Radamel Falcao was introduced at the break as LVG looked for a way back into the game, and the Colombian went close with a header and then had a goal ruled out before United were once again caught cold on the counter.
Ross Barkley's through ball was intended for the offside Romelu Lukaku, but, with the Reds backline switched off expecting a whistle, substitute Kevin Mirallas swept in ahead of the Belgian and rifled in a clinical finish.
David de Gea saved well from Mirallas to prevent a fourth, but United's bad day at the office got worse when ex Evertonian Wayne Rooney limped clutching his knee late on.
Successive defeats hardly indicate a crisis, and a top three finish is still likely, but this result does indicate the need for a centre half, Gundogan and a 24-carat striker to help out Rooney.
United Faithful Man of the Match: Chris Smalling
Overall team performance: 5.5/10