Match ReportEverton were beaten by another alarming scoreline as a late collapse helped put a flattering gloss on Manchester United's victory.
Coming off miserable defeats to Chelsea, Tottenham and Atalanta, the Blues needed to put in a performance to show concerned supporters that they are capable of getting their 2017-18 season back on an even keel and there signs of that in a contest that was fairly even following Antonio Valencia's early opener.
Ronald Koeman's men would finish the match having had more possession than their hosts but Everton's now familiar lack of attacking heft precluded a fightback and United capitalised on their fatigue in the closing stages to score three more goals.
Deploying a five-man back line aimed at trying to stifle Jose Mourinho's attack Koeman was no doubt also hoping to stem the tide of goals that had seen his team concede eight goals without reply in those preceding three matches.
The clean sheet lasted just four minutes but there was little Everton could have done to prevent it as Nemanja Matic found Antonio Valencia with a switch ball from left to right and the Ecuadorian lashed a crisp half volley past Jordan Pickford from 25 yards out.
With Tom Davies justifying his selection in midfield, the visitors set about trying to re-establish parity and Wayne Rooney came close to marking his first game back at Old Trafford as an opposition player but dragged a shot from Cuco Martina's square ball wide of the far post.
Romelu Lukaku, himself facing his old club for the first time, should have doubled United's lead following a poor pass by Michael Keane but he fired wide when he looked odds-on to score.
Rooney was denied by David de Gea following a great run by Tom Davies early in the second half, the Spaniard parrying the veteran striker's shot from close range and he foiled Gylfi Sigurdsson from a similar position before Juan Mata rattled a free kick off the post.
With the game still close heading into the final stages and Koeman having made all three of his changes in attempt to find an equaliser, it was a rare slip on the day by Ashley Williams that effectively killed the game.
The Welsh international gifted the ball to Marouane Fellaini in the centre of the park, he fed Lukaku who in turn teed up Henryk Mkhitaryan and he supplied a clinical finish to make it 2-0.
That became 3-0 shortly afterwards when Lukaku poached the goal Evertonians had feared at the far post and wheeled away cupping his ear to the away fans.
Substitute Sandro Ramirez stung De Gea's palms with an excellent drive but a late penalty, scored by Anthony Martial after a somewhat harsh penalty award for handball on Morgan Schneiderlin, capped another depressing day for Everton.
The result leaves the Toffees in the relegation zone for the first time in seven years and increases the pressure on Koeman to find a resolution to his side's awful sequence of results and goalscoring woes, although some heart will be taken from a performance that could only have been an improvement on the debacle in Italy three days ago.
Valencia scored a screamer after 4 minutes but Everton came close until they gave up three goals at the end after Rooney had gone off.
Rooney, Davies and Martina started in what can only be described as a strange line-up as Koeman looked to reverse a dreadful sequence of performances and results for a team in crisis.
Lots of hoopla about Rooney's first return to play against Manchester United, who feature both Romeulu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini (in for the injured Paul Pogba) who have made good starts for the Red Devils this season.
Lukaku kicked off and Utd lumped it up into Everton's half where it stayed and it did not take long for Valenica to lash in the first goal, a fantastic first-time volley as he was given yards of space off a clever cross from Matic.
Everton were completely blocked into their own half, completely unable to string together anything even approaching a counter to relive the pressure until Davies and Martina combined down the right but no chance of converting the cross.
Another attack saw Schneiderlin fouled and Sigurdsson curved in set-piece that did not find a blue shirt. Rooney was involved but losing the ball with worrying frequency. But Everton were just starting to play a little. Williams made a superb saving tackle on Rashford and the ball got forward for Sigurdsson to almost play in Davies. Lukaku then ran at the Everton goal but was pushed wide. Rooney then released Martina who played a great cross for Rooney but a poor shot dribbled wide when he could have gone for glory.
Williams took down Lukaku, almost 40 yards out, defended away by Everton. The Blues were actually playing some football. But a horrible giveaway from Keane and Lukaku had a gift as Pickford blocked him well, but the Big Man pushed it wide. At the other end , another deep free-kick, executed same as the last by Sigurdsson, Keane heading well wide.
Everton got the ball in the net after a good diving header by Davies who was fractionally offside> Everton were looking a lot better, pressing and looking to play forward, but not skillful enough but they kept trying to play it through Martina down the right.
Baines did well to track Fellaini and block his cross. But Rashford got wide on the other side and looked to threaten but was eventuality blocked. Everton were looking a lot better with the ball until they got within sight of the Man Utd area until they ran out of ideas.
Williams was totting up a number of significant blocks and interceptions but a stronger break saw Rashford feed Lukaku; Jagielka had tracked him and did brilliantly to deny him a clean shot. A couple of dangerous Man Utd corners followed.
Martina and Keane made a mess of things and the Blues drew pressure on themselves,and Man Utd threatened a second goal but Williams again blocked it. Everton would get the ball but hardly anyone in forward positions meant no or wasted out-balls.
Rooney won a free-kick in the middle, Sigurdsson delivering it straight to De Gea, bringing the half to an end, with Everton showing a lot better following a horrible first 10 minutes.
After the restart, Rooney created a wonderful chance for himself after Davies played him in and only had De Gea to beat... but he couldn't get it past the keeper's knee. Davies was doing a good job of flinging himself to the ground, usually after he was fouled.
Rooney got free again but it was clipped off his toe as Everton kept the home side in check but needed to drive forward rather than backwards and sideways. A cross reached Lukaku but bounced up for him, his lousy first touch allowing Jagielka to get a high boot on it.
The Blues played some good possession play until it inevitably broke down and Utd surged forward, winning a free-kick without Lukaku, off changing his boots! Lukaku looked to strike but Jagielka had the measure of him. Lingard replaced Rashford.
Sigurdsson and Rooney got in on De Gea with sheer persistence, but the keeper was in the way again. Should have scored. Williams again won the ball back but Davies again squandered possession.
Pickford made a dreadful clearance off his right foot, forcing Williams to bring down Mata right on the edge if the area, Mata curled it around the Everton wall and off the face of the post and behind off Jagielka! Sandro replaced Davies.
The Blues were moving the ball well and building in a forward direction but Rooney crossed to an invisible Tim Cahill at the far post... The game, however, was very tight: if only Everton could score. But Utd came closer, Lingard scooping a shot over the bar as Williams again got in his face.
Some lively stuff with Lingard and Keane battling down the Everton right, Martina fouling, the wicked free-kick headed away. At the other end, Sandro tried his best to dig out a shot that was blocked and then Rooney once again gave the ball away needlessly straight to Fellaini and Man Utd surged forward, Lingard shooting over.
With the tension really building, both manager made changes, Calvert-Lewin replacing Gueye, Herrera on for Mata. The changes seem to have revitalised Utd, Lingard falling as he shot, calling for a spot-kick. he Blues were forced to defend and were too s;low in transition, giving up the ball again cheaply in midfield.
The final change was Mirallas for Rooney, given a fine ovation by the Mancs as he walked off. Williams made a horrible error passing it straight to Fellaini and Lukaku then played it to Mkhitaryan and he slotted home with ease. Game over.
Mirallas and Sandro showed some intent but it was now pointless. Baines blocked Lingard for another dangerous free-kick, Lukaku drives into the wall, but the ball comes back to him for an easy tap-in. Game well and truly over.
Sandro gave De Gea some rare exercise with a rising shot before Martial won a penalty as Schneiderlin handballed accidentally on the floor... Penalty: Martial sends Pickford the wrong way. A very sad finish for the Blues who had done better until Rooney went off.
The result drops Everton into the bottom three, tying the worst defensive record and the worst goal difference in the Premier League.
Scorers: Valencia (4'), Mkhitaryan (83'), Lukaku (87'), Martial (pen: 92')
Man Utd: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Young, Fellaini, Matic, Mata (76' Herrera), Mkhitaryan (88' Martial), Rashford (60' Lingard), Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Smalling, Carrick, Romero, Darmian.
Everton: Pickford, Keane, Jagielka, Williams [Y]; Martina, Schneiderlin, Gueye (76' Calvert-Lewin), Baines; Davies (66' Sandro), Sigurdsson; Rooney (82' Mirallas).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Besic, Klaassen.
Referee: Andre MarrinerAttendance:
One of the last places Everton will want to go on the back of three awful performances would be Old Trafford but that is where they will be this Sunday to take on a Manchester United side who have started the season strongly.
Three comprehensive defeats with eight goals conceded without reply, including a disastrous start to the Europa League campaign proper, have left the pre-season optimism among Evertonians in shreds and Ronald Koeman, seemingly bereft of answers to the slump, has to try and pick his charges up for the latest difficult assignment.
It's a match that will be dominated from the media perspective by two players meeting their previous clubs, one under a heavy cloud, both personally and professionally, the other thus far justifying United's massive outlay for his services in July.
Wayne Rooney left the Red Devils with many feeling that he was already past his best. A summer dedicated to getting into the best condition his 31 years would allow and a renewed hunger seemed to be reflected in two goals in his first two Premier League games back with Everton.
He has not been capable of lifting a badly struggling team with either further goals or inspiration in recent games, however — a Herculean responsibility for sure but few could argue the veteran has been playing well Nevertheless, Rooney can be backed at 11/1 to score the first goal in Sunday's game or 33/1 to score twice on his return Manchester and with free bet offers available those odds could be worth an interest.
Meanwhile, if Everton fans at first felt apathetic about Romelu Lukaku's departure from Goodison Park given his constant talk of wanting away, the sight of the Belgian's early success at United while Everton battle to muster more than two shots on target a game can't fail to muster emotions of envy and frustration at the very least. He has hit five League goals already, more than twice the Toffees' tally thus far, as he benefits from the supporting cast that Jose Mourinho has deployed around him in a way that Everton often failed to do. Not surprisingly, Lukaku is 4/6 to net during the game and rub salt into Evertonian wounds.
Paul Pogba will be missing this weekend with a hamstring injury but United have plenty of depth in that creative part of the field, something Everton clearly don't and therein lies one of the big problems as Koeman seeks to steady the ship. The Blues' recruitment policy over the summer focused on long-term strengthening and functionality over flair and pace and, combined with the loss of Lukaku, it's created the glaring toothlessness in the final third. It has also severely limited the scope of any attempt by the manager to shake things up.
Having admitted that the team wasn't prepared for the Atalanta game — was something lost in translation there? — and accepted responsibility for the first time, it will be interesting to see how Koeman responds this weekend in terms of team selection.
The starting XI could, depending on how dramatically he reacts, could be hard to predict. Will he opt for another defensive posture and a five-man back line to stanch the bleeding at the back or will he opt for youth in the hope of drawing on their enthusiasm and desire to impress (unlikely in such a difficult game).
The obvious prediction would be for a reshuffled version of the same in the hope of seeing the kind of response he has demanded for the past couple of games but not seen. That means the supposed leaders and captains in the ranks stepping up and dragging this team to a better calibre of display than Evertonians have been served up for all but one match in 2017-18.
In that sense, this trip to Old Trafford should realistically be about taking a step forward in a bid to improve morale and then use the League Cup tie against Sunderland and the Bournemouth home game beyond that to try and get back to winning ways. In other words, keeping Lukaku quiet, avoiding a mauling, and giving the travelling Blues something to shout about even if it doesn't end with any points.
It shouldn't be like that of course, not with the amount of money Everton have dropped on new players this season but that is where we are. It's becoming tiring to repeat it but it's at times like these that a good manager finds solutions and finds ways of getting a collection of players to function as a unit and just execute effective football. Over to you, Ronald.
Kick off: 4pm, Sunday 17 September, 2017
Last Time: Manchester United 1 - 1 Everton