Everton 1 Manchester United 2
Cristiano Ronaldo made history as Manchester United made amends at Goodison Park on Sunday night. The veteran forward became the first player to score 700 goals at club level as he helped Erik ten Hag’s team erase the misery of their mauling by Manchester City with an impressive away win at Everton.
The 37-year-old’s last appearance at Goodison Park ended with an FA charge for smacking a phone out of a young Evertonian’s hand following a lame defeat against Frank Lampard’s side.
He returned to create yet more history, driving home a deserved winner to hit an incredible milestone that not even the likes of Pele, Ferenc Puskas or Lionel Messi – yet – accomplished. United Part II will not be remembered as the finest time of Ronaldo’s remarkable career but it has witnessed something special.
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Victory was merited reward for a far more unified and intelligent United performance than they served up at the Etihad Stadium seven days ago.
Casemiro was handed a first Premier League start as Ten Hag made four changes to the team that was flattered by their margin of defeat in last week’s Manchester derby.
The £70 million summer signing received a rude introduction as Everton made the perfect start on the back of his mistake. Receiving an awkward pass from Antony, Casemiro was dispossessed from behind by Amadou Onana’s strong challenge and left on the ground as Demarai Gray seized on the loose ball.
Gray ran at United’s exposed defence and squared inside to Alex Iwobi, via a slight deflection. The Everton midfielder was urged to shoot by the home crowd and, heeding their calls, curled a superb shot from 25 yards past David de Gea’s despairing left hand into the top corner.
It was Iwobi’s first Premier League goal from outside the penalty area and a vivid demonstration of the confidence running through a player who has been transformed since Lampard’s arrival. Goodison was bouncing, Ten Hag a picture of deflation in his technical area, yet again, but United would gradually turn the mood of both.
The visitors’ recovery was assisted in no small measure by an error-strewn Everton display. Lampard’s team came into the game with the best defensive record in the Premier League but carelessness in possession weakened that foundation here.
Diogo Dalot easily beat Idrissa Gana Gueye on the edge of the Everton area before having a goalbound shot blocked by James Tarkowski. Gueye was at fault again when allowing an Iwobi pass to run under his foot in central midfield. There would be no reprieve on this occasion. Bruno Fernandes touched the ball on to Marcus Rashford, who released Antony into a chasm down the left of Everton’s defence. The former Ajax winger dinked a lovely finish over Jordan Pickford to register his third goal in three league appearances for United.
Pickford saved low from Christian Eriksen, after Gueye had lost possession again, and denied Anthony Martial at close range following a neat turn by the striker when receiving Fernandes’s pull back.
Martial soon departed with what appeared a hip injury sustained in the warm-up. Enter Ronaldo, and another landmark in the extraordinary career of one of the game’s genuine greats.
United continued to dominate the ball and force Everton into a deep retreat with few escape routes. Casemiro should have edged the visitors ahead from an exquisite Rashford cross but, having ghosted in behind the Everton defence, he directed a free header badly wide from close range.
The midfielder made amends two minutes later when displaying the qualities that made him such an integral part of Real Madrid’s success in recent years. First, the Brazilian read Iwobi’s intentions to retrieve possession from the Everton goalscorer. He then threaded a pass down the left channel for Ronaldo to sprint away and beat Pickford with a powerful shot that flew under England’s No 1 goalkeeper.
The 700th club goal of Ronaldo’s career arrived almost 20 years to the day since his first, for Sporting against Moreirense. It was a slice of history for the 37-year-old to savour in a United shirt. The general disappointment of his second spell at Old Trafford cannot detract from the phenomenal achievement.
Rashford looked to have sealed the win with a fine solo goal 10 minutes from time after Ronaldo had headed on a clearance from De Gea. The forward beat Iwobi in the air, then skipped away from a Tarkowski challenge before rounding Pickford and rolling the ball into an empty net. United’s players had finished their celebrations and were ready to restart by the time VAR intervened. After a lengthy review the goal was disallowed for a handball by Rashford as he rode the Tarkowski tackle.
Everton launched a late rally as they looked to benefit from the reprieve with Dominic Calvert-Lewin making his first appearance of the campaign off the bench. De Gea tipped away a shot from the former United midfielder James Garner that was headed for the top corner but, despite an aerial bombardment, the visitors held firm. – Guardian