Manchester United vs Everton: Match Report

Everton snatched a valiant point from the jaws of defeat after a thrilling 3-3 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Fresh from a superb midweek victory in West Yorkshire, Carlo Ancelotti shuffled his pack, with Michael Keane, Tom Davies and James Rodríguez all returning to The Toffees’ starting eleven. The Italian’s side started off quite brightly, with his midfield trio of Davies, André Gomes and Abdoulaye Doucouré having a number of nice touches and setting a decent platform for his attackers to play upon.

 

However, this quickly crumbled as Manchester United began to move with more incision and intensity. Their front three of Edison Cavani, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood were extremely lively, leading an unrelenting press in defence and well-structured passages of play in attack. Unsurprisingly, it was two of the said three that combined to give the hosts the lead, with Rashford  curling a magnificent cross onto the head of the Uruguayan, who nodded easily past Robin Olsen in the Everton net. Whilst the lack of closing down from Davies and defensive positioning of Michael Keane deserves scrutiny, the goal was a perfect example of the quality of The Red Devils in the final third and how that with space and time, they’re as good as any set of attackers in the Premier League.

Everton’s response to this opening goal was extremely disappointing. Unambitious with the ball at their feet and somewhat fragmented without it, it felt like Ancelotti’s men would do well to make it to half-time at just one goal down. As the clock struck forty five minutes, it seemed like they had done just that but as has been the case so often since his arrival in Manchester, Bruno Fernandes had something to say. Shaping to cross, the Portuguese international then produced an audacious strike, dipping the ball up and over the head of a helpless Olsen into the left hand corner. Olsen’s questionable stance aside, it was a stunning effort and a fitting finish to a half of real attacking zip and verve from the hosts.

Everton, on the other hand, looked beaten.

Half-Time: Manchester United 2-0 Everton

At the start of the second half, it was clear Ancelotti’s calls for more enthusiasm from his side had been heard. Within a matter of minutes, the visitors were starting to look forward rather than behind when in possession. It was through this renewed intent that they found a way back into the match. After a brilliant, threaded pass from Davies, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who squandered Everton’s best chance in first half stoppage time, knocked a tame ball back into the United penalty area. David De Gea, who had enjoyed a pretty quiet evening up until that point, did not clear the cross with any conviction, with his weak punch falling kindly to Doucouré, who knocked the ball past the former to give his teammates a lifeline.

With this goal, Everton burst into life and just a few moments later, they grabbed an equaliser. After an excellent pass from Doucouré, who had one of his most assured attacking performances to date in a blue jersey, Rodríguez fired a wonderful, fizzing strike past De Gea to level the scores. It was an excellent goal and the perfect example as to why despite indifferent spells within a game, the Colombian has to be kept on the pitch for as long as possible if Everton have any intention of winning games of football, particularly against the very best.

After this equaliser, it felt like Everton had a foothold in the game and a real chance to secure their first victory at Old Trafford since December 2013. However, they lost any sense of momentum once level and were soon to pay the price for their inability to press on. With twenty minutes left to play, Scott McTominay rose highest from a Luke Shaw freekick and glanced the ball past Olsen, whose goal-line slip enabled the header to cross the line. It was a highly frustrating goal to concede and a moment which with such little time remaining looked like it may be definitive and the difference between the two teams.

Whilst Rashford missed two great opportunities to fully secure the three points in the last fifteen minutes, it never felt like United would lose their lead such was their command of the ball and Everton’s inability to create anything meaningful. However, the away side were gifted one last chance after the hosts conceded an unnecessary freekick just inside their own half.

And boy did they take it.

After a flick on from Michael Keane, the ball found its way through a crowd of players to Calvert-Lewin, who stretched superbly to score past De Gea and clinch a late, late equaliser. It was a brilliant finish and sparked incredible celebrations from everyone connected to the blue cause, both at Old Trafford and at thousands of homes across the globe.

What a moment and you know what, fair play to them. They could have easily fell apart tonight, like so many Everton sides have done in similar situations in the past, but they didn’t. They reacted, they grafted and they showed quality when they needed to. These are wonderful , winning characteristics which with further tender, loving care from the manager and more substantial, significant results like tonight can only grow stronger.

It may not be good for your blood pressure levels nor the wellbeing of your hairline but by God it feels great to be excited about Everton again.

 

Full Time: Manchester United 3-3 Everton

James’ Everton Man of the Match: André Gomes

 

 

Published by JamesAldred99

A 'cautiously' optimistic Evertonian, excited by Carlo Ancelotti's side start to the season and the way in which the wider Premier League campaign has begun.

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