(Photo by MulaMiszczu/Pixabay)
On a frustrating night at Old Trafford, Manchester United threw away a 3-2 lead with the last kick of the match, gifting Everton a point while shooting themselves in the foot at home once again.
In a dominant opening half United were 2-0 up thanks to a fine header from Cavani, followed by a sublime strike from talisman Bruno Fernandes.
However, as the second half began, Everton came out like a new team, applying pressure from the off.
Everton Roar To Life In Second Half
From nowhere the Toffees were given a lifeline, as United goalkeeper parried a cross he should have dealt with, gifting Abdoulaye Doucoure a tap in.
Moments later Doucoure turned provider, setting up James Rodriguez to smash in the equaliser, and Everton’s second goal in three minutes.
Once back on even terms, Everton retreated into their defensive shape once more, inviting pressure from United, who duly obliged.
Manchester United Regain The Lead
In the 70th minute, a Luke Shaw corner found Scott McTominay who headed towards goal and beyond the outstretched Robin Olsen who appeared to slip at the crucial moment.
Back in the ascendancy, United should have added to their lead, but Marcus Rashford was wasteful, failing to score a fourth to put the game beyond the visitors.
In his time as United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has often been accused of failing to use his substitutes to change the course of a match.
Tonight he brought on defender Axel Tuanzebe to help steady the ship during stoppage time, however, the defender gave away a needless free-kick in the dying moments.
Everton Snatch A Draw
The ball was swung in as time was winding down, where Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a livewire for Everton all match, pounced to stab home the equaliser with the final kick of the game.
While Solskjaer’s needless substitution – United were cruising and looked untroubled – did indeed change the game, this wasn’t the impact those in red were hoping for.
In truth, United created enough opportunities to win the game several times over, but lacked the cutting edge needed in key moments.
Solskjaer Left Disappointed
Immediately after the game, the United boss cut a dejected figure. While pleased with how his team responded to giving up two goals, he was disappointed they couldn’t close out the final minute.
“Yeah, especially after the way we played the last 40 minutes. They scored two goals early on in the second half and you almost sit back and want to see the reaction, see how the players handle this challenge. They did magnificently, played some fantastic football, scored a goal, should’ve scored a few more. We didn’t really feel threatened at all down there but, of course, with the size they’ve got, you can never ever be sure. We just got a minute to play out and we did not manage it.”
“The players have got character and we played some very good football. We dominated possession, created chances and just couldn’t get the fourth goal that would’ve won us the game, even though we should’ve played this game out, of course. Last minute, that’s… that’s just something we got to learn from,” said Solskjaer.
Paul Pogba Injured
Shortly before half time influential midfielder Paul Pogba, who has been in fine form in 2021, picked up what looked to be a muscle injury and immediately signalled to be substituted.
“It looks like a muscle injury, so we’ve just got to check him up tomorrow and have a scan and get him treatment. Hopefully he’ll recover quickly,” concluded the manager.
The mercurial Frenchman is now a doubt for United’s midweek FA Cup fixture with West Ham.
Wonder Strike From Bruno Fernandes
Shortly before halftime, Portuguese genius Bruno Fernandes took a pass from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, turned, and struck an exquisite shot that fired the Red Devils 2-0 ahead.
In the 12 months since joining United Fernandes has been compared to Eric Cantona on more than one occasion, and this goal was reminiscent of the Frenchman’s superb chip against Sunderland in 1996. All that was missing was Cantona-esque celebration.
Despite the wonder goal, Fernandes was left to rue the two dropped points.
“There are a lot of things to be disappointed with.”
“We were making so many mistakes in the last few games and we can’t keep conceding goals like that. We have to be more focused, we have to have the same desire to score and to defend our goal.”
“Every time we have to make goals and score goals it has to be the same to not concede and I think we have to learn from this.”
“It has already happened a lot of times so it is more than a bit disappointing. You talk about everything that is going on but it is about learning and make it better,” said Fernandes.
Of the equaliser, Fernandes expressed his frustration, and expects better from his teammates in the future.
“It is really bad and you can’t concede goals like that because from a full 50 yards they are a long way from our goal.”
“You can’t concede this kind of goals from that. We have to be more focused and we have to be ready and we have to be more stronger. We have to defend our goal with everything.”
“For me, it doesn’t matter how we play, we have to win the games, we have to understand the moments. In the second half when we scored the third goal we have to understand that we have to not give away nothing, not to give them chances and to keep trying to score and press them.”
“We don’t do that and unfortunately we concede the goal in the last few seconds,” added Fernandes.
A Reaction Needed Vs West Ham
With games coming thick and fast in an unrelenting season, United will need to pick themselves up once again, and make sure they continue their FA Cup run by beating West Ham on Tuesday.
“We have time. We have time to think again. Everyone knows the past is the past and you can do nothing, but the future you can do something about.”
“So everybody has to be ready and learn from his game. Everything we learn from this game we have to put in the next one and try to win. We have to win,” concluded Fernandes.
Last time Manchester United threw away a two-goal lead to Everton at Old Trafford it cost them a Premier League title.
Although this time around nobody had booked any busses for a celebratory parade, with the trophy looking headed to neighbours City, one wonders what the cost will be for this latest aberration.