It was another day to forget for Manchester United at Goodison Park as they put up an embarrassing show for their travelling support, suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of relegation battling Everton thanks to Anthony Gordon’s 27th minute goal.
Story of the match
The cagey opening quarter hour or so quickly turned into a feisty, old school Premier League clash, with Marcus Rashford twice testing fellow compatriot Jordan Pickford in the Everton goal.
It seemed as though there was a goal coming for the visitors, but the tide quickly turned with Anthony Gordon putting the Toffees in front after Nemanja Matic was dispossessed in the middle of the park.
Gordon’s attempt deflected off United captain Harry Maguire, leaving David de Gea flatfooted, but it was enough to send the Park End into bedlam.
As the first-half went on in the Merseyside sun, those in red shirts’ energy levels appeared to have dropped, and soon after, Fred was substituted due to injury and was replaced by Paul Pogba. That certainly didn’t help up the ante, with Pogba failing to lay down a marker on the game, as has been the case for large parts of his Old Trafford career.
Things nearly went from bad to worse for Ralf Rangnick’s side, with another deflected, looping effort needing tipping over the bar from De Gea. At this point, United had lost their way.
Just as the first 45, it was more of the same from both sides in the second-half.
A game low in quality, but high in fight, and lack of from the visitors essentially decided the game.
The blue wall of Everton left the supposedly star-studded and expensively assembled United side lost, limiting them to a handful of opportunities.
Alex Telles attempted his hand at crossing. But it was only till around the 70th minute mark the Brazilian full-back learnt he was hopelessly aiming towards one-man in the Everton box.
That one-man slowly turned into none, after Cristiano Ronaldo began to pull off to the left-hand side, where he continued to see no joy.
A tense afternoon slowly turned into a moment of celebration, with Richarlison bringing the vibe of the Copacabana beach to the blue half of Liverpool as those in Red watched on.
The moans in the media from the Manchester United contingent in the coming week will certainly be loud, but the only noise belting around Goodison on Saturday was the Spirit of the Blues.
Takeaways from the match
After coming into the clash with three defeats on the bounce, this result will surely uplift Frank Lampard’s side, leaving them four points above the drop.
Although Everton have been horrendous for the large parts of this campaign, one positive to take is that they have now won five of their last seven fixtures in front of their home support.
With crunch games against Leicester, arch-rivals Liverpool and Chelsea coming up, the fight from Lampard’s men isn’t over just yet, with Burnley facing fellow-strugglers Norwich City on Sunday.
As for Manchester United, the small glimmer of hope of finishing in fourth place looks to have faded away.
United sit in seventh in the league, with the UEFA Europa League the most likely opportunity Old Trafford sees a European night next season, but even that isn’t a guarantee with the current set of players.
It has been widely reported in the week leading up to the game that Erik ten Hag of Ajax will be the man to take United forward from the forthcoming campaign, but it would come as no surprise to anyone if the 52-year-old Dutchman is currently having second thoughts about taking the job on.
Next up for the Red Devils is rock bottom Norwich at home, but as Watford, Burnley and a whole host of bottom-half teams have already shown this season, Manchester United can be beaten.
A sense of togetherness for Everton
One player that stood out in the early kick-off clash was Michael Keane.
Keane, once a Manchester United academy lad, has come under fire throughout his time at Everton, and rightfully so, often making errors leading to goals, but it can’t be argued that the 29-year-old dealt with most things that came his way, as did his teammates.
Frank Lampard’s brave decision of bringing veteran Fabian Delph also paid off, with the former Manchester City man having last featured in December.
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Godfrey, Mykolenko; Allan, Delph (Doucoure), Iwobi; Gordon, Calvert-Lewin (Gray), Richarlison
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Telles; Fred (Pogba), Matic (Mata); Sancho, Fernandes, Rashford (Elanga); Ronaldo