Everton produced a superb performance in their penultimate home game of the season, hammering Manchester United in the Goodison sunshine.
Michael Keane returned with Phil Jagielka dropped. Morgan Schneiderlin was the chosen replacement for André Gomes, who started a three-game retrospective ban for his late foul at Fulham, caught on video.
After a slow start, and a burst of speed from Barnard that ended in an overhit cross, an early corner ended harmlessly in De Gea's arms. Calvert-Lewin got a second corner off Jones but it was directed away from goal. A slightly better attack down the right threatened briefly but came to nothing.
A neat piece of skill from Sigurdsson drew a foul from Fred, a little too far out. Richarlison could not reach the looped ball but won a third corner, which finally came back for Richarlison to force a good save from De Gea when he should have scored, driving the rebound wide.
Everton were dominating the early play and it paid off, a great long throw-in from Digne on the left, Calvert-Lewin headed on under pressure and set up a moment of supreme skill from Richarlison to loft it firmly into the roof of the net past a despairing De Gea. Tremendous start from the Blues!
Everton continued to pressure: another corner, this time from the left, it came back to Digne and he won the 7th corner, in a great spell of relentless pressure until Sigurdsson drove the ball out behind Digne. Man Utd played the long ball but Rashford could not convert it.
A poor ankle-tap by Gueye saw an early yellow card. Rashford went for goal from 40 yards, over Pickford's bar. Fred caught Calvert-Lewin with an equally bad foul but, of course, no card shown to the offender from the top-six team.
Man Utd won their first corner but from it, Everton broke well and Sigurdsson fired a superb strike low past De Gea off a square ball from Guey , a wonderful shot, to put Everton 2-0 up. Excellent football from Everton.
The tempo slackened a little, allowing Man Utd to try another long ball, this time directed at Lukaku. But the turnover saw Everton advance with energy again, winning yet another corner and more pressure ensued, the Blues continuing to dominate.
Richarlison forced a turnover from De Gea's weak play out, and he tried to make space for the shot but drove at De Gea. Richarlison was fouled in a good position but Sigurdsson's trajectory was too low. Still, Everton won the ball back and pressed forward again.
Some uncharacteristic scrappy defending from Zouma preceding Richarlison going down for treatment on his ribs, hurt in a tussle with Matic. 2 added minutes became 3 as the whistle blew on a fine first half from the home side.
Fred did not reappear for the visitors. And Richarlison collapsed again, Walcott replacing him this time. Bernard again turned on the afterburners and delivered an enticing cross that evaded three blue shirts. A really competitive, almost scrappy spell ensued, with Everton fighting for every ball.
Calvert-Lewin and then Sigurdsson both shaped to shoot but it was another corner, that De Gea punched out and Digne caught beautifully on the volley at the edge of the penalty area, driving it hard and low past the Manchester United captain and into the back of the Gwladys Street net. 3-0 and comfortably sailing...
Calvert-Lewin was next to threaten, Smalling denying him at the expense of a corner, a fantastic one that almost went straight in but for the alertness of de Gea to clear it off the line with his foot.
Some brilliant work by Sigurdsson down the left played in Walcott through on goal who nonchalantly passed the ball into the net beyond a livid David De Gea... 4-0 and Goodison in rapture.
Rashford tried a dive under pressure from Coleman and McTominay ended up with a yellow card from Paul Tierney. Martial got free and looked to score but drove his shot wide.
There was a beautiful spell of olé football, slick accurate passing from the Blues that had the washed-out Man Utd shirts chasing shadows, the ball coming to Walcott who did not quite connect well enough. At the other end, Matic drove wide before there was a massive welcome for James MacCarthy, who replaced Gueye.
A bit of pressure for the Everton defence to deal with saw Keane head behind. Sigurdsson set Bernard on another run but Calvert-Lewin horribly miscontrolled a simple ball and a golden chance to make it five evaporated.
Coleman did his best to get that fifth, smacking a difficult shot with his left foot straight at De Gea. Digne went down after Pogba unknowingly stood on his instep. Ademola Lookman was coming on, but instead, it was Phil Jagielka who came on, accepting the captain's armband from Seamus Coleman.
After a brilliant cross was defended equally well by Coleman, Pickford chased the ball down and seemed to foul Martial? outside the area. Then, Man Utd had their first shot on goal, in minute 86, Pickford picking off Martial's low drive.
Everton still had to defend as 4 minutes of added time went up, Lindeloff shoving over Walcott needlessly, allowing Everton time to regroup around the Man Utd area but it was defended away by Romelu Lukaku, a peripheral figure for Man Utd — who, it is said, has never been replaced since he left Everton. Based on his lackluster performance for the so-called Red Devils today, and the fact they are talking of selling him, that cry sounds a little hollow.
The Blues played out the 4 added mins without claiming that 5th goal their excellent performance deserved in the beautiful Goodison sunshine. Happy Easter!!!
Scorers: Richarlison (13'), G Sigurdsson (28'), Digne (56'), Walcott (64')
Everton: Pickford; Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne (85' Jagielka); Schneiderlin, Gueye [Y:23'] (76' McCarthy); Richarlison (50' Walcott), Sigurdsson, Bernard; Calvert-Lewin.
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Davies, Lookman, Tosun.
Manchester United: De Gea; Lindelöf, Smalling, Jones (46' Young), Dalot; Pogba, Matic, Fred (46' McTominay [Y:62']); Rashford (77' Pereira), Lukaku, Martial.
Subs not Used: Romero, Lingard, Sánchez, Mata
Everton play their penultimate home game of the season this Sunday looking to bounce back from another disillusioning setback as Manchester United come to Goodison Park.
The Blues went to already-relegated Fulham last weekend seeking a fourth successive Premier League win but instead came away with a 2-0 defeat and, having managed just a single shot on target against one of the worst defences in the division, more recriminations from supporters ringing in their ears.
The result put a serious dent in Everton's aspirations around finishing seventh and possibly securing a shot at qualification for the Europa League but Marco Silva will be confident that if results go his side's way elsewhere, his team can still achieve that one remaining goal for the campaign.
They face a United team that has been resurgent under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was initially brought in as caretaker boss following the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December but has now been handed the reins on a permanent basis following a phenomenal run of results.
The Red Devils won eight straight games in all competitions following the Norwegian's appointment and didn't lose a League game for almost three months under his temporary stewardship. That saw a United emphatically pull away from the rest of the top flight to reaffirm the hegemony enjoyed by the “big six” over those coveted places at the top of the Premier League.
Indeed, they come into the weekend 18 points better off than Everton having played a game fewer and, sitting two points off Arsenal in fourth, they are still in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
According to SBD, though, now looks like a decent time to face Manchester United. Solskjaer's side are 5/4 away favourites against Everton (11/5) this weekend, having lost four straight away matches in all competitions, including defeat to Wolves and a comprehensive loss in Barcelona that ended their Champions League hopes for this year.
Everton, meanwhile, are unbeaten at Goodison Park since being beaten by Manchester City in February, with all three of those home games being against top-five teams. The Toffees were full value for their wins over Chelsea and Arsenal which is why last weekend's setback at Fulham was so perplexing — Silva looked to finally have his team playing to expectations.
Perhaps already considering changes to the team that started that horror show at Craven Cottage, the Portuguese will be without his compatriot André Gomes who begins a three-match ban, imposed retroactively based on video evidence of his stamp on Aleksandar Mitrovic's ankle in that game.
That creates a vacancy in central midfield that would, based on recent team selections, logically be filled by Morgan Schneiderlin but could also be given to Tom Davies who, having already skippered the side this season, enjoys a degree of confidence from his manager.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has been working through what Silva has described as a small issue in training this week but he is expected to play.
In central defence, it would be a surprise not to see Michael Keane reclaim his place based on Phil Jagielka's struggles last Saturday; the club captain kept his spot alongside Kurt Zouma after an excellent display against Arsenal but had an afternoon to forget against the lowly Cottagers.
A shortage of options up front will likely see Dominic Calvert-Lewin continue as the lone striker but another disappointingly ineffective outing from Richarlison could move Silva to bench him again and opt for a different approach wide on the right. That could mean another chance for Theo Walcott or if the boss is feeling particularly adventurous he could give Ademola Lookman a surprise start but continuity with Richarlison wide right could be the order of the day.
The prevailing feeling is that another high-profile occasion against a top-six side with the Goodison crowd behind them — not to mention the need to atone for a dreadful showing last time out — will provide the necessary impetus for Everton's players to put on another stirring performance and take another big scalp.
As Silva told the media during his pre-match press conference, United's more open approach could favour the Blues: “When teams play more closed against us, with more defensive organisation [is causes us problems].
"The Premier League is like that. You play one game against Arsenal, Tottenham, Man United, City or whatever and it's completely different to when you play Burnley or Fulham. It's up to us to prepare our squad deeply to be ready for all these games.”
In many ways, the players owe the supporters a reaction this weekend and with United coming off their travels and psychological setback in midweek, there's every incentive for them to do so.
Kick-off: 1:30pm, Sunday 21 April, 2019
Last Time: Everton 0 - 2 Manchester United
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Zouma, Digne, Gueye, Schneiderlin, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin