Manchester United 3 - 3 Everton
Sir Alex Ferguson knows all about taking matches to the very end. Not for nothing was lengthy time added on for stoppages at Old Trafford known as “Fergie Time” — the legendary Manchester United boss saw plenty of climactic, last-gasp goals scored by his team here over the years. Today, however, just as it was in 2012 when Everton nabbed an even more dramatic 4-4 draw, the shoe was on the other foot.
Sitting in the stands behind an ample black mask, Ferguson had to watch as Dominic Calvert-Lewin plundered an unlikely draw for the Toffees with the last kick of an entertaining, goal-laden contest. Had 3,000 or so Evertonians been in attendance it would have been a “limbs” occasion for the ages; as it was they had to be content with bouncing around on their sofas but no less pleased for a thrilling conclusion to a game that had at one stage looked well beyond their team.
Sometimes, it’s all about taking your chances. Everton were a model of efficiency, scoring with each of the three shots on target they fashioned in 90-plus minutes. Prior to that, they had trailed United 2-0 and then 3-2, having implausibly clawed themselves back to 2-2 early in the second half. The home side had been denied by Robin Olsen in the 63rd minute when the Swede saved well from Edinson Cavani and profited from the keeper’s apparent slip as Scott McTominay’s header looped in in the 70th minute.
Olsen might have played a role in the second equaliser, however — having been waved forward for the final set-piece of the evening, it was his presence and out-stretched arm that forced Harry Maguire back the half yard that initially played three Everton players onside when ball was struck and the defender remained behind the wall of Blue when Michael Keane flicked it on for Calvert-Lewin to snatch a point.
As if it needed to be impressed on the Blues again after the win at Leeds in midweek, this was also another reminder that tempo, belief and courage are going to be vital if Carlo Ancelotti’s team is to achieve its European dream this season. It was a perceptible shift up a couple of gears that sparked the comeback after half-time and you felt afterwards that a bit more of that approach might have yielded an ever better result against a United defence that can be vulnerable when properly pressured.
But while they started well enough, Everton dropped off United after the first quarter of an hour and started giving their hosts too much respect and far too much space. The visitors had had a couple of promising forays forward and had actually shaded possession in the early going but a Paul Pogba header off a corner that Abdoulaye Doucouré had to clear away from his six-yard box and a slaloming run by Mason Greenwood that ended with him dragging a shot across the face of goal were warning signs of what was to come.
In the 24th minute, Rashford was afforded plenty of room to size up a cross from the home team’s right flank and he bent a ball into the six-yard box where Cavani used all his experience to get between Keane and Mason Holgate to nod downwards and past Olsen at the far post.
Bruno Fernandes had a shot easily dealt with by the goalkeeper and after United had passed their way through Everton’s midfield all too easily, Fred fired wide of goal. Meanwhile, at the other end, Richarlison tried to punish David de Gea for abandoning his goal but his attempt to curl the ball around the keeper into the open goal missed the far post.
Repeating the errors of the reverse fixture at Goodison Park in November, though, Everton left Fernandes to his own devices for too long on the edge of the box and he took the invitation to pick his spot in the top corner of Olsen’s net and hit it with a deft, sweeping shot from 18 yards that glided over the ‘keeper’s despairing glove to make it 2-0.
In truth, it all felt a little desperate by this point and more than a bit reminiscent of successive trips to this stadium under David Moyes that, the occasional fight aside, always had an air of futility about them. To their credit, Solskjaer’s side looked a different level, passing and moving, pinging the ball about confidently and carving through Everton’s midfield seemingly at will at times.
Another incisive move ended with Luke Shaw having a crack first time from just outside the area but Olsen parried it away to safety.
Calvert-Lewin missed when put clean through on goal with just De Gea to beat in first-half stoppage time, a moment that was more useful in illustrating that for all his predatory instincts inside the six-yard box, he still has to add composure in one-on-one situations further out from goal to his arsenal than it was pivotal because the linesman’s flag went up for offside after the ball had gone dead.
Ancelotti had identified some of the issues behind his team’s first-half under-performance and with the second half just a few minutes old, it was clear that he had demanded more forward momentum from his players and instructed Doucouré to press further forward.
Tom Davies, who, without support, had been caught between the need to close Fernandes down and block a possible shot from the Portuguese for United’s second, was lively and alert in the first period and had his best game for a long while in defensive midfield. He epitomised the uptick in tempo early in the second and, striding out of defence, in the 49th minute, he played a one-two with Lucas Digne and then threaded a beautiful pass behind Harry Maguire for Calvert-Lewin to take to the byline.
The striker prodded the ball across goal, De Gea could only bat it into the path of Doucouré who had galloped forward in the interim and then cut across the box behind Shaw to seize on the loose ball and knock it over the line from close range.
The French midfielder’s impressive movement was key to the equaliser just three minutes later as well. It was he who collected a pass from James Rodriguez to fee to Digne overlapping down the left and when Victor Lindelof glanced the full-back’s cross on to the other side, it was Doucouré who picked up possession.
He spotted James at the top the box and may have over-cooked the centre, but the Colombian controlled it expertly and elegantly drilled a perfectly-placed shot wide of De Gea to make it 2-2. Proof positive that you can have spent much of the first 45 minutes on the periphery of the action (with an increasingly tight calf, it seems) and even a little out of place in Everton’s system as Rodriguez did but still weigh in with a telling moment of sheer quality.
Predictably but no less unsettlingly, it was Man United who responded more purposefully and once again Olsen was called upon to make an important save when he foiled Rashford at his near post in the 63rd minute.
Their third goal was avoidable and unfortunate in equal measure. Despite the Blues’ recent success with Mason Holgate at right back, the Yorkshireman is an uncomfortable presence in the role and this afternoon was far from his best performance, although he was often a willing outlet down the right flank.
It was his needless foul on Luke Shaw near the touchline that handed the United left-back the chance to swing a free-kick into the box with 20 minutes to go, one that Scott McTominay rose to meet in the zone you felt Yerry Mina would have dominated had he been playing and guided a header inside the far post. In real time it looked to be an awful lapse on Olsen’ part but replays would show he lost his footing with his left boot and couldn’t get the purchase in the turf to prevent the ball looping over his gloves.
Rashford lashed a decent chance wide after being played in and cutting back on his left foot and Fernandes dropped a direct free-kick narrowly over after Keane had committed another annoyingly unnecessary foul right on the edge of his area but it was Everton who went closer to scoring in the final 10 minutes of the regulation 90.
Digne drove a low, left-footer off the outside of the post and then after Calvert-Lewin had out-muscled Maguire and fed Richarlison, the Brazilian failed to even find the target, smashing wide.
If that felt like the last chance, there would be one more when United failed to keep hold of possession as the game ticked past the allotted four minutes added for stoppages on account of Solskjaer’s decision to replace Greenwood with Axel Tuanzebe to waste a few more seconds.
Ironically, it was the substitute’s foul on Josh King, an 81st-minute introduction for Doucouré, that set up the decisive free-kick. Olsen joined the attack for the final push, Keane got a crucial touch and after knocking it down off his midriff, Calvert-Lewin showed superior desire to lurch forward and hook the ball past the advancing De Gea into the goal.
Cue wild celebration in the corner tinged with the usual fear that it might all get called back by the Video Assistant Referee but there would be no hairline decision based on arbitrary markers on a screen 200 miles away in Stockley Park — this goal was going to stand! It marked only the second time United have failed to win in the Premier League era when leading 2-0 at half-time. It’s also the first time since that 4-4 draw with Everton nine years ago that they have not won at home when 2-0 up.
As one of those thrilling draws that feels like a win, this could be a catalytic result for Everton going into an important FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Tottenham on Wednesday and one that will hopefully stand them in very good stead for upcoming League matches against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the next month.
While disillusioning lapses like the defeats to West Ham and Newcastle keep cropping up, a top-four finish will remain somewhat optimistic but when this Everton side decides to turn it on, they can hurt anyone on their day. If only they believed it more often.
Reader Comments (45)
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1 Posted 07/02/2021 at 07:34:24
From several picks for MotM, I could not go past the determination and wholehearted performance of Tom Davies.
3 Posted 07/02/2021 at 08:12:30
What a great comeback and superb fighting spirit shown by the Blues. Although we were 2nd best in almost every department for long stretches of the game, Everton had as many genuine chances as ManUtd did, probably more, if you count the horrendous miss by Calvert-Lewin in the 1st half and Richarlison not being able to capitalise on his opportunity in the 2nd half.
In fact, Man Utd's goals were the result of 2 fantastic strikes in the 1st half and a very poor goalkeeping error by Olsen.
Davies and Gomes had good games, Doucouré showed his ability in patches, but overall, Everton's composure on the ball needs to ratchet up big time.
Richarlison needs dropping, and Iwobi tries hard but is not athletic enough and scrappy enough to win the balls back for the team.
Holgate had a poor 1st half – I would hold him partially culpable for the 1st goal – but then he showed his fighting qualities in the 2nd half and won a lot of free-kicks for the team.
Godfrey tried valiantly, but did not show enough composure on the ball and kept giving the ball away. But probably that is an overall team confidence issue.
Calvert-Lewin – what can you say? He frustrates and delights in equal measure, but boy, am I glad that he plays for Everton!
Digne and James were repeatedly out-fought, out-run and out-muscled all through the game, but then they have those moments of sheer quality that gets you those all-important goals (and points!).
On the whole, it was totally worth it for me to stay away from the internet and watch the game 'live', albeit 12 hours late.
4 Posted 07/02/2021 at 08:16:37
And then, clicking on YouTube, as I do for such late games, to watch the highlights, I was instantly touched with a 'gutted' feeling, to read Man Utd 3... but then... wow!! ... Everton also 3!!! Even, or especially, as I'd actually thought that we could beat them, considering our away form, and their own hardly world-beating home form at times.
Yeah, okay, so many in the media are claiming United are back to SAF days cos they've had a decent run – and they absolutely stuffed (ten-man, 9 out) Saints at home last time out. But let's be totally honest here: I think Ole's been very lucky that this current bunch of stop-start players have been putting in a shift, more often than not of late (he could easily have ended up where Frank Lampard is now, down the Jobcentre, just a few weeks back!).
Also 0-1 at home to Sheffield Utd shows how far they are from anywhere 'great' again, still! So, yeah, I reckon we coulda done em... but sod it, we didn't. So from 2-0 down I'll absolutely take 3-3!!! Anyway, sod United (just saying, is all, lol!).
Regardless, going by the highlights and reports, we should have had Mina in there, for sure, but great to see Doucouré and James grab excellent goals, plus Dom hopefully getting sharper again!!.. 'A draw that feels like a win' – Absolutely!! COYTs!!!
5 Posted 07/02/2021 at 08:19:52
6 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:02:01
I think you are too forgiving to Olsen – he didn't inspire confidence in me at all. All through the game, his kicking was poor, his judgement of where his goal was was also poor, he needlessly gave away 2 corners. And okay, he might have lost his footing for the goal, but he should have at least tried to palm the ball away instead of trying to catch it.
We do seem to be weak in the goal-keeping department. I look at Emiliano Martinez at Aston Villa and wonder what might have been if we had landed him.
7 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:08:43
I can't for the life of me understand why managers make needless substitutions during stoppage time. It doesn't run the clock down and brings a cold player into a tense game. Just thankful that this time it worked in our favour. Was it their sub who fouled King?
COYB – No more shite performances for the rest of the season. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency.
8 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:17:01
Next game is against Fulham at home, we are a better team but we lost to Newcastle at Goodison Park few weeks ago and this time we must play at 100% in order to win.
Calvert-Lewin has become our talisman, he is so important for us and scores goals regularly. A really good season for him, I hope he continues that way.
We play Tottenham in the FA Cup in the midweek so I hope we can progress further, they are in crisis. Still, Spurs are a very good team, they are unpredictable and let's hope we win this one as well.
9 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:25:08
10 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:48:39
11 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:49:59
12 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:52:10
More and more players are digging out good performances. It's possible Carlo has been playing a sub-par Gomes to get him fit. He's had two high-intensity games this week and unexpectedly done well.
Right back is a problem whenever Allan is missing (most of the season) and Rodriguez is playing. That is our most exposed position (ie without a covering player) and Coleman, Godfrey and Mason have all been targeted as a result.
I do think we need a new right-back, but we also need better covering from midfield.
I don't think our goalkeeping was worse than Man Utd's. Henderson and De Gea have been iffy all season and De Gea dropped a big clanger last night for our opener. Pickford would have been crucified for that.
Olsen slipped which is not a mistake of judgement. The worse sin was our packed defence allowing McTominay to win the header.
Lots of encouraging signs ahead of Spurs.
13 Posted 07/02/2021 at 09:59:06
The only concern for me was Holgate and Calvert-Lewin not taking the chance in the first half. Like the Leeds chance, this surely has to be worked on in training.
14 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:05:49
What a shame that such a moment should be tinged with a shadow of doubt around the possible intervention of VAR. Also, that no Blues were in the quadrant in the corner, it would have been up there with the Oviedo night.
15 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:06:52
My point is if that DCL goal hadn't gone in this site would be full of people screaming the house down about how shit we are, Carlo is a dinosaur etc. etc. As I've said before, we need some balance, we're not a great team but we're certainly not a shit team. Let's support what Carlo's doing and realise it's not an overnight transformation.
Special mention for Davies who gets bundles of stick but is a true, honest and as shown last night, a good player when he's given a job to do.
As for Olsen, I'm sure the rabid Pickford haters will be keeping their heads down today. He made a mistake, they all do, it doesn't make him a shit keeper. Pickford saves that last goal all day long, but that doesn't mean he has his flaws either. That's our fine margins and we just need to accept them at the moment.
16 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:12:52
17 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:15:30
Davies for me was motm, with good performances from Doucoure and Gomes. Holgate was weak in the first half, but did improve. Calvert Lewin is a six yard specialist and not great outside that. Richarlison was poor both in his attacking role and helping out in defence. Godfrey was ok.
Thought the defence was ok, but the amount of space explains Mina's rushing about in the previous game. Both James and Digne quality got them through.
The Commentator( Hes goal) did say that the everton goalkeeping role is to be rotational from now on , Pickford not number one , according to reports. I had not heard this before ???? Olsen was Ok. Jim Beglin is a prat and a Man U supporter, who was silenced which helped make it feel more like a win.
The team is increasingly believing in Ancelotti.
18 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:18:58
We mustnt let the season slide, though, having got to where we are. Realistic expectations, but maximum concentration and effort are required.
19 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:54:48
20 Posted 07/02/2021 at 10:57:06
21 Posted 07/02/2021 at 11:22:48
22 Posted 07/02/2021 at 11:23:31
Conceding the lion's share of possession and relying on being "efficient" with chance conversion isn't really a long-term strategy.
23 Posted 07/02/2021 at 11:38:16
Also thought Holgate once again stunk at right back, looked far too casual, lacked concentration and was a liability diving in and giving away needless free kicks, bit gutted for Olsen after he made some decent saves at Leeds in the week to then look pathetic for Manu's 3rd, was it worse than Pickfords blunder against Leicester?
Finally thought Michael Keane had a poor game after playing so well recently and Richarlison was once again well below par.
24 Posted 07/02/2021 at 11:44:38
Looking forward to Spurs on Wednesday.
25 Posted 07/02/2021 at 11:51:51
What is the situation there re covid?
When are the authorities saying tourism will kick back in mate.
26 Posted 07/02/2021 at 12:08:50
I agree in the first half we lacked a bit of belief and confidence, at the same time Man Utd had an abundance of it. The second half we shook off the insecurities and looked like real competitors.
As usual the pundits were more interested in Man Utd and were gushing about Bruno Fernandess goal. James Rodriguezs goal was just as good. The ball came to him high and at pace, to get meaningful control on that was real skill, the instant shot he got in was perfectly timed and accurate.
Tom Davies deserves a lot of credit for his performance yesterday. I think the lad is improving and maturing as a player. He is a bit calmer a bit more assured, the mistakes are becoming much less frequent. He seems to be finding a higher level of consistency and that bodes well for his and Evertons future. Gomes is playing much better too and Doucoure is undroppable so Ancellotti will have a welcome dilemma with Allans imminent return.
This improvement in the central midfield is huge for the club, it has been the weakest link of the team , but the fringe players are stepping up and staking their claim . It makes me feel optimistic that we are live contenders for maybe 3rd or 4th and certainly top 6.
Against Tottenham on Wednesday we need to be confident and show belief from the off. Theres no need to be reticent, they are no better than us.
27 Posted 07/02/2021 at 12:47:14
A few difficult games coming up but, with a positive attitude and fit players, we have every chance of getting some results.
28 Posted 07/02/2021 at 12:51:27
We are work in progress and there will at the moment be the odd relapse to old ways and frustrating set backs such as Newcastle.
But in the main, we are improved from just over 12 months ago. Keeping ourselves in the fight to stand a chance of getting something out of the game. The game that isn't over until the ref blows the final whistle. Everton of recent seasons capitulate in games like this.
Pleased with the performances of Davies and Gomes. I'm starting to expect it from Doucouré, so no singling out of him; that was the standard he has set.
29 Posted 07/02/2021 at 13:03:50
Also agree that maybe folks should cut Pickford just a teensy bit of slack. He certainly has his issues, but too often people act like he's the only keeper who has a clanger in him... especially when you consider that United is coughing up, what - 400k a week for De Gea to make mistakes like that?
30 Posted 07/02/2021 at 13:15:55
Digne; well he was hung out to dry really by having a diamond midfield and James and Richy floating about so too exposed.
We also missed Mina, and l think the solution could be that before long Carlo could give a back 3 a go.
Big game on Wednesday l know but the league is bigger for me this season. I have to wonder how many players our manager thinks we are short of before we are allowed to take the game more to our opponents. A right back yes, a creative midfielder? A winger? I hope our summer shopping includes Isco, Bailey... and l don't know who at RB.
31 Posted 07/02/2021 at 13:28:34
And I do watch Villa with the wife and large percentage of the in-laws being Villains.
32 Posted 07/02/2021 at 13:35:48
33 Posted 07/02/2021 at 14:00:19
Nicolas, the form of Gomes hasn't gone unnoticed. He is more complete at the moment and confidence seems good again. Last night he was a bit mixed, playing some good balls and other times turning back to play it safe. Although he has a tendancy to grow into each game.
On the whole all the squad have improved this season... with the exception of Richarlison, though can't fault his effort.
34 Posted 07/02/2021 at 14:00:43
35 Posted 07/02/2021 at 14:13:03
But, he grew up in a village not far from where I now live and started at Wycombe. He is a converted winger, so I would imagine he's got the attacking instinct in him too.
36 Posted 07/02/2021 at 14:44:16
37 Posted 07/02/2021 at 23:18:19
38 Posted 08/02/2021 at 12:30:09
Time to rest a few for Wednesday and give others some game time? Coleman, Allan, King and even Bernard could do with a game to get the rust out. Sig can come in for James so he can be ready for City and the lot across the park and Gomes probably needs a breather!
Lastly, really nice not to be hoping just to reach 40 points and avoid relegation. Getting anything out of the big six used to be beyond us. Just wish we didn't keep losing our way against the bottom half teams.
39 Posted 08/02/2021 at 13:12:55
Yes, he's caught my eye a few times (not deliberately you understand!). I can't see Holgate making it as a permanent fixture but you never know.
40 Posted 08/02/2021 at 14:36:28
41 Posted 08/02/2021 at 15:25:25
42 Posted 08/02/2021 at 16:01:35
43 Posted 08/02/2021 at 16:54:21
Saying that though I agree with Jay above, Ive been impressed with and would prefer Lamptey. He would be a great signing for us and make us very strong down the right for years to come. Wonder if he has a release clause in his new contract ? Either way he wont be 14m, more like 40. Hes still only 20 though and would be an investment.
44 Posted 08/02/2021 at 21:02:40
45 Posted 08/02/2021 at 22:16:24
46 Posted 09/02/2021 at 06:37:02
Must admit having that warm, fuzzy feeling when we scored with the last touch of the game at the very home of the team that possibly has the record of such (maybe barring the RS, of course).
And well done, John Moss and Andre Mariner, for deciding our way!!
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