After managing a seven game unbeaten run Frank Lampard’s Everton were brought down to earth this evening as they lost 1-2 to Manchester United at a rain-swept Goodison Park.
Everton went into this match at the Grand Old Lady following back-to-back wins over West Ham and Southampton away but they couldn’t make it three in a row as United came from behind to grab all three points.
Going into tonight’s fixture, the Toffees’ would have been reasonably confident of success due to their good recent form and after winning the corresponding fixture late last season. Additionally, United were coming off a 6-3 hiding by Manchester City in their last game.
But, while I thought the Blues’ had a good chance of victory, I felt that this defeat in the Manchester derby might well make United a more dangerous opponent and so it ultimately proved.
The home team though started well and after just five minutes had the lead when Alex Iwobi took advantage of a mistake from Casemiro and put the Blues’ ahead.
However, depsite that positive beginning Everton were looking a little ragged and there were too many misplaced passes while they were unable to hold onto the ball at crucial times.
United then took control of the match and they were looking much the more composed side dominating possession and it didn’t take them long to equalise.
The dangerous Anthony Martial fed his namesake Brazilian forward Antony and he beat Jordan Pickford to put the away team level.
For some reason the Blues’ couldn’t rouse themselves and United continued to dominate the first half. Then, came an injury to Martial and he was replaced by Ronaldo.
While the Portuguese legend hasn’t been at his best recently (although he’s not played a great deal either) his record of course speaks for itself.
Inevitably then, it was he who scored the next goal, his 700th. Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid team-mate Casimero made up for his earlier error by supplying the ball which he ran onto and then slotted past Pickford.
Everton huffed and puffed but in truth never really looked like finding an eqauliser until late on. Then with Dominic Calvert-Lewin finally back fit and brought on, they pressed for a way through with Amadou Onana having the best chance to secure a point.
Having said that, United’s Marcus Rashford had a goal disallowed, which had also happened to them in the first half as for once VAR and officiating went the home team’s way when it mattered.
This then was a bit of a sobering reality-check for Lampard and his team. Although United are not going to win the Premier League and might not even get European football, there was still a notable and clear gap in quality at times, especially in taking advatage of mistakes and in front of goal.
Tonight’s defeat underlines that there’s still a lot of work to do before this Everton team can think of competing consistently with the top sides in the league.