Manchester United were held to a 3-3 draw by visitors Everton in a frustrating display at Old Trafford on Saturday. For United, Cavani and Bruno gave United an early lead but quickfire goals from Doucoure and James tied the game up. McTominay’s goal seemed to seal the game in United’s favor, but a late goal from Calvert-Lewin gave Everton a point. A frustrating night for Ole’s men who seem to keep falling further and further behind in the title race.
David de Gea was the goalkeeper today. Maguire and Lindelof in the center half position. Luke Shaw and AWB continued their excellent form as the left and right wingbacks. McTominay and Pogba were the holding midfielders behind Bruno. The front three consisted of Greenwood, Rashford, and Cavani. The bench included Fred, Donny, Tuanzebe, Martial, and Telles among others.
United began the game with a lot of energy and pace as they controlled the tempo of the game. Everton were struggling to get touches on the ball and were looking to defend and counter-attack. Greenwood and Rashford’s positioning was a bit confusing as they both seemed to be playing on the right. United were also very successful in making good long passes across the field. This allowed for much quicker ball movement and attacking. Victor Lindelof decided to try his hand at attacking, and tried to dance into the box on his own. A last-ditch tackle denied him the chance but United looked the much stronger side. However, Everton slowly grew into the game by exploiting the space left by Wan-Bissaka. Everton’s passing and movement were very good as they began troubling United.
Despite being under pressure, United were generally quite composed on the ball. Mason attempted a curling cross towards the back post as United came close. He also made a trademark run into the box but his hybrid shot-cross was disappointing. However, United soon broke the deadlock when Cavani headed in Rashford’s wonderful cross.
At that point, United began controlling the game even more comfortably. Cavani had a good chance to double the lead in the 35th minute but scuffed his first-time effort. Close to half time, Paul Pogba came off with an apparent injury and was replaced by Fred. The Brazilian had a great chance but his shot from the edge of the box went horribly wide. When it looked like United would go into half time only a goal ahead, Bruno Fernandes came up with a moment of brilliance to curl the ball over Olsen to make it 2-0.
After leading 2-0 at half time, United looked comfortable and confident against the Toffees. Although the hosts started well in the second half, Everton stormed back into the game with two quick goals. The first came from Calvert-Lewin’s squared pass, parried away by de Gea. A weak parry from de Gea gifted the ball to Doucoure. The Evertonian easily slotted the ball into the far post to make it 2-1. Only minutes later, Doucoure turned provider as his cross from the right was smashed into the bottom corner by James Rodriguez. Poor defending from United yet again, leaving James completely open on the edge of the box. Not only did Everton equalize, they suddenly looked like they could go on and win the game. The visitors strung together some good moves to keep United guessing but were unable to get a shot on target.
United woke up from their slumber and began pressing Everton again. Marcus Rashford had an excellent one-on-one chance, but his finishing was poor. A tough day for Marcus today as multiple chances went begging for the young forward. This may have been a good point to utilize the bench and bring on Donny or Martial. United managed to lead again when McTominay headed the ball into the far corner after a well-taken freekick from Shaw. With only 20 minutes left, United hoped to shrug off their defensive woes and hold onto their hard-fought three points. Bruno had another chance from the edge of the box but his shot was marginally high.
The Reds knew a 4th goal could seal the deal but their finishing today was unsatisfactory. Rashford had another couple of chances around the 80th minute but the goal just did not come. Despite trying their best, United’s leaky defense and poor goalkeeping gifted Everton with a point. In a head-scratching decision, the fourth official called for four minutes of added time in a game without any VAR reviews or injuries.
Tuanzebe came on to replace Mason as Ole looked to plug the gaps and come away with the win. In the final play of the game, Everton’s freekick was flicked on by Keane into the path of Calvert-Lewin. The forward took a touch a poked it past de Gea. Poor keeping from de Gea as he failed to close down DCL and cost his side two crucial points. At Full-Time, the hosts look dejected as they had lost yet another chance to apply pressure on league leaders Manchester City.
A costly draw for United today. Despite going ahead comfortably, United conceded three goals in the second half to gift City a big chance to extend their lead atop the table. The defense was very poor today as the center-halves were ball-watching too often. Fingers can also be pointed at de Gea who was unable to pull off a single save today. The attackers were relatively prolific, but the game could have been done and dusted with better finishing.
I will also go as far as to question why there were four minutes of injury time. This was a game with very few stoppages and slowdowns. However, the long injury time gave Everton a chance to stage a comeback. For now, United sit in second place with 45 points. They are trailing City who have 47 points and two games in hand. United will also worry about third-placed Leicester who could nab second place with an unlikely 6 goal win vs Wolves. Up next, United host West Ham United in the FA Cup before traveling and facing off against West Brom. The Red Devils will also begin their Europa League knockouts this month against Real Sociedad. As of now, United hold onto second place with relative comfort. Although United fans will be closely watching City vs Liverpool tomorrow, they will feel the bitter aftertaste of the Toffees from today.