Everton 1-1 Manchester United
A goal apiece, a point apiece and, arguably, a gaffe apiece.
In the end though, that this Premier League encounter finished all square was about right.
There were quite a few Premier League highlights to reflect upon as the sides drew 1-1 for the second time this season and showed glimpses of their Sunday best.
SBOTOP Premier League experts, however, still suggest both will struggle to reach what seems to be their immediate aim (qualify for Europe next term – Everton the Europa League, Manchester United the Champions League).
Highlights of the game
Before kick-off, visiting manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promised his side ‘would not give up’ as in this corresponding fixture last year when he personally apologised to fans straight after the full-time whistle.
Yet he had barely sat back in the dugout when he had witnessed his side fall behind.
There seemed little danger when captain Harry Maguire passed the ball back to his goalkeeper, so there was a shock when David de Gea kicked it straight against Dominic Calvert-Lewin and saw the ball bounce into the net.
To be fair, the Spaniard number one atoned for that error almost immediately with a low save from the same player but it was just the start United didn’t want, and the exact start Everton craved.
United have shown glimpses of improvement over the past fortnight, most notably at Stamford Bridge, and slowly came into the game.
Nemanja Matic struck the crossbar and then rifled in a shot which Jordan Pickford parried as United sought an immediate response. Here is a club which, financially, it seems, needs to get back to the Champions League.
Everton had bad luck just before the half-hour when home skipper Seamus Coleman was unable to continue and had to be replaced by Djibril Sidibe.
Within minutes, the substitute had given the ball away to Matic who played in new signing Bruno Fernandes.
While it was hardly the same level of mistake as the opening goal, Pickford was arguably culpable as the midfielder fired in a speculative shot from the edge of the box which beat the England custodian at his near post.
If United edged the first half, Everton seemed the better side in the second and Gylfi Sigurdsson – who had been directly involved in nine goals in his last nine Premier League games against United (scoring five and assisting four) – clipped the post with a free-kick.
The boot of De Gea was also vital to keep out Calvert-Lewin after the lively frontman burst down the left.
There was late drama to come at both ends of the pitch.
First, Pickford blocked a Fernandes shot and then darted across his goal to keep out the follow-up from substitute Odion Ighalo.
Then, in injury time, the impressive Calvert-Lewin had the ball in the net which was ruled out as Sigurdsson was sat on the floor obstructing the view of de Gea.
That decision infuriated home boss Carlo Ancelotti who was shown a red card after the full-time whistle.
Whether the decision was correct or not is down to interpretation – certainly, under the VAR rules, it was correct.
Makes you wonder though why the Icelandic ace didn’t move quickly to stand up – or am I being harsh?
Let me leave you on a high note. The upside of the day was the first start for Andre Gomes since the Everton midfielder suffered a horrific ankle injury in November.
Good to see him back!
Calvert-Lewin has 13 league goals this season – the last Englishman to score more in a single campaign for Everton was Paul Rideout, with 14 in 1994-95.
Since Ancelotti’s first game in charge of Everton on Boxing Day, Calvert-Lewin has scored more Premier League goals than any other player (nine).
United have drawn two and lost one of their last three league matches versus the Toffees – the last time they endured a longer winless streak against them was a four-match sequence between October 1988 and March 1990.
The Red Devils have won 36 Premier League games against Everton (drawn 11, lost nine), a record for one club against a particular opponent.
Everton are unbeaten in seven league matches at Goodison Park (won four, drawn three), with their last defeat coming against Norwich in Marco Silva’s final home match.
Ancelotti has lost just three of his 43 Premier League home games as a manager (won 34, drawn six), with the most recent being Chelsea’s loss to Liverpool in February 2011.
It is 13 months since the Red Devils claimed back-to-back away victories in the top flight.
The big ones keep on coming for Everton. They are at Chelsea in the Premier League next weekend and then host Liverpool in the Merseyside derby (March 16).
United travel to Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round this Thursday before hosting Manchester City in the Manchester derby a week today (March 8).
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