Bruno Fernandes helped Manchester United pick up a valuable away point as the Reds drew 1-1 with Everton on a breathless afternoon at Goodison Park. Also Read - For Ronaldo, 'Messi is Number One' But Cristiano Not Even in His Top-Five List
The game had initially started in disappointing fashion for the Reds when Dominic Calvert-Lewin blocked an attempted kick forward from David De Gea and forced an unexpected goal for the hosts. United went on to dominate much of the first period and got back into the game through man of the moment Bruno Fernandes, whose long-range effort flew past Jordan Pickford, who appeared to have it covered. Also Read - Manchester United Extend Nigerian Ighalo's Loan Deal
The contest ended in dramatic fashion when Carlo Ancelotti’s men had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside, after Calvert-Lewin had found the net in the dying seconds via a big deflection off Harry Maguire. Also Read - UK Government Gives Green Light to Sport Behind Close Doors From June 1
Before kick-off, the main team news for United was the return of the in-form Anthony Martial from injury, after he missed the 5-0 victory over Club Brugge with a muscle problem. Martial’s inclusion, instead of Odion Ighalo who was named on the bench, was one of five changes to the side. De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic and Mason Greenwood also came back into the starting line-up, in place of Sergio Romero, Eric Bailly, Juan Mata and Daniel James.
The Reds were hoping to banish memories of last season’s forgettable day at Goodison when the hosts ran out 4-0 winners but things got off to an unfortunate start on three minutes. De Gea had the ball at his feet in the area but as he went to launch it forward, Calvert-Lewin closed him down and the attempted long kick ricocheted straight into the goal.
Solskjaer’s men were shell-shocked and the hosts almost doubled the advantage just a couple of minutes later when Calvert-Lewin found himself clearly through on goal and took aim with a low shot. De Gea atoned for his earlier error though as he brilliantly tipped the ball around the post.
There was no let-up in the action as the Reds looked to settle into the game and restore parity as quickly as possible. Twice in quick succession, Matic went close – first striking a brilliant effort onto the crossbar on seven minutes and then hitting a powerful daisy cutter which Jordan Pickford just managed to push clear. United kept up the pressure and Greenwood was unlucky to see a flicked header drop just over the bar after nice build-up play from Martial and Fred.
Our Player of the Month for February, Fernandes, was once again pulling the strings in attack and it was no surprise when he drew us level. Everton lost possession deep in their own half, allowing Fernandes to turn onto Matic’s short pass and drive forward before taking aim with a low, swerving effort which flew in. It’s a shot that Everton and England goalkeeper Pickford will feel he should have saved but nobody in a red shirt cared one bit about that.
United continued to look dangerous but it was the Toffees who went closest to grabbing the next goal, on the stroke of half-time when Richarlison flashed a diving header just wide.
Having seen the Reds dominate most of the first period, Everton made a concerted effort to push forward more after the restart. United dealt effectively with the majority of the hosts’ play but De Gea and his team-mates were certainly relieved to see Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick smash back off the post on 57 minutes.
Fernandes continued to be United’s main threat, being ably supported by those around him in attack, and it was his brilliant dummy which sent Greenwood clear on 61 minutes. Greenwood found Martial but his shot from the left deflected over. At the other end De Gea made a fine save with his feet from Calvert-Lewin.
There was a double change of personnel for the Reds as Juan Mata and Odion Ighalo entered the fray in place of McTominay and Greenwood. Ighalo almost got in for a sight of goal when Fernandes stormed forward but the Everton defence just managed to clear.
As the clock ticked down to full-time, Pickford made an excellent double save, first from Fernandes and then somehow he got back to block Ighalo’s effort after he followed up on the rebound. That looked to be the last of the drama until De Gea made a brilliant point-blank save with his feet from Sigurdsson in injury time. In the ensuing melee, the hosts rightly had a goal disallowed by VAR, after Calvert-Lewin put the ball in the net while Sigurdsson was grounded in an interfering offside position.
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti led the protests following the final whistle and was shown the red card by referee Chris Kavanagh as boos rung around Goodison Park.
Despite the hosts’ frustration, the Reds deservedly had a point to take home to Manchester, where the next Premier League assignment will be a fourth derby match of the season with local rivals City next Sunday. Before that, there’s a meeting with a legend of both United and Everton to look forward to, as Wayne Rooney’s Derby County welcome us in the Emirates FA Cup.