United dominated possession in the first half with Jordan Pickford forced to make a terrific save to tip Edinson Cavani’s header around the post.
On the brink of half-time, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side broke the deadlock, with Anthony Martial curling a shot into the top corner.
Solskjaer introduced Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo from the bench in the second half, but it was Everton who struck, with Andros Townsend finishing off a stunning counter-attack started by Demarai Gray.
United pressed for a late winner but it was the Toffees who came closest when Yerry Mina’s tap-in was narrowly ruled offside by VAR. Here are the five things we learned from the fixture.
Anthony Gordon bright spark for future
Midfielder Anthony Gordon did well considering he had to come into the side due to the injuries impacting Everton at the moment. He was involved in early link up play as the side built into the fixture after fighting off pressure from the hosts. He put in a great few passes to put Townsend in front of goal but the chance didn’t result in a score.
Gordon displayed his threat more and more in the match as the United players began to foul him, Mason Greenwood received a yellow card for his challenge on the 20-year-old.
He was more quiet in the second half, being brought off just after 70 minutes to a standing ovation from the Everton supporters. His performance can act as a hopeful platform for the club for years to come with young players stepping up.
United have to capitalise on chances
United should have been at least 2-0 up at the break after they kept walloping the ball at and around the goal. The hosts just couldn’t connect on the final touch to convert the chances and it’s a clear part of United’s game that needs to be improved upon. All the build-up play and hard work goes to waste, particularly when their opposition defence is wide open.
Many will point to Pickford’s saves and Everton’s pressure as to why they didn’t score earlier in the match but there were chances where United should have converted. If they can’t convert on the Premier League stage early in the season, will they when the title race is tighter? Or if they are in a final again this term?
Anthony Martial saved their blushes to head into the break 1-0 up but it’s the same story for United - all the promise and not enough conviction.
Injury-hit Everton feeling the loss of missing players
Everton had a good first half, managing to stem the hosts’ early pressure and create a few chances of their own. Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray were excellent, but the clinical impact of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison was clearly and unsurprisingly missed in front of goal. Rio Ferdinand said at half-time on BT Sport that if the stars had been able to play the visitors would be one or two goals up and it’s difficult to disagree with him.
The second half goal from Townsend though will give Rafa Benitez some relief that when his star scorers aren’t involved his side can still produce results.
United can survive without Ronaldo
It was a surprise that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started their Champions League talisman Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for the fixture but the team proved they don’t need to solely rely on him to perform well. Anthony Martial produced a fantastic shot at goal to silence Everton’s building pressure in the first half but he wasn’t the only player who shone. David de Gea made a great save to keep the Toffees out in the first 45 with Bruno Fernandes being solid once again.
Ronaldo was brought on at 56 minutes and ironically United’s performance fell off with the introduction of the Portugal international.
It will be a relief for the manager to know that when they rest Ronaldo, or if he becomes injured at his time at the club, he can rely on his wider squad to step up.
Pickford form continues
Jordan Pickford has at times played better for England than Everton but the keeper displayed his star quality for his club in the match. The onslaught of chances from United in the first half were relentless and Pickford put in a huge save as Edinson Cavani’s header was on target. His quick reflexes saw him push the attempt wide and Cavani punched the floor as he knew it was a chance he should have converted.
While United took the lead in the first half it was more of a spectacular strike from Martial rather than an error from Pickford that meant the goal was scored. The keeper did manage to save another attempt from Martial to keep the match 1-0 at half-time and he continued making solid saves in the second 45.
Not only did Pickford make the saves when needed, he also rallied his defensive troops when they looked sluggish in the opening 10 minutes.
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