VAR disallows Everton winner as Man United grind out a draw
Bruno Fernandes was on the scoresheet again for the visitors before drama at the end
Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United scores his team’s first goal during the Premier League draw with Everton. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Everton 1 Manchester United 1
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was forced to issue a public apology at Goodison Park last season after Manchester United’s 4-0 capitulation. This time out, enthused by the reaction he had demanded from his team, he headed to the away section to applaud a well-earned point and evidence of United’s creeping recovery. But it was a close-run, VAR-shaped thing.
Everton believed they had recorded another home victory over the men from Old Trafford in stoppage time when Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s shot hit Harry Maguire and trickled past David de Gea, who had been badly at fault for the striker’s early opening goal. Gylfi Sigurdsson, sat on the ground having just had a shot saved by the United goalkeeper, was clearly offside but pulled his legs out of the way to allow the ball to roll in. The referee’s assistant appeared to award the goal but VAR declared Sigurdsson was offside and/or interfering with play. The incident was replayed on the giant screens inside Goodison as play continued. The home side, unsurprisingly, were less than impressed with the decision although there could be little argument over the merits of the final result.
United returned to the scene of last season’s crime buoyed by a run of seven matches unbeaten and the instant influence of Bruno Fernandes, their January signing from Sporting Lisbon. And then De Gea promptly complicated their task by gifting Calvert-Lewin his eighth goal in 10 games. It was a staggering mistake, with only 160 seconds gone, and another in the Spaniard’s growing list of costly errors. The keeper received a back-pass from Maguire and, seemingly unaware of the closing presence of Calvert-Lewin, delayed his clearance for too long before sending it straight at the Everton striker. Calvert-Lewin stuck out his foot in hope and was repaid by the ball striking the underside of his boot before flying in. It was the seventh mistake by De Gea that has led directly to a goal since the start of last season, the joint-worst record in the Premier League.
For the slapstick nature of the opener – and it was greeted with laughter as much as delight by the home fans – it was fitting that an Everton No 9 should be on the scoresheet on the 40th anniversary of the death of Dixie Dean, the Everton legend who died at Goodison after watching a Merseyside derby.
Calvert-Lewin almost scored a second in the fourth minute when a simple long ball from the recalled Michael Keane managed to pierce a static United defence. The striker left Victor Lindelöf in his wake and steered a first-time shot towards the far corner only for De Gea to deliver a timely reminder of his quality with a finger-tip save. Everton threatened to bypass Lindelöf and Maguire at will in the opening exchanges. The danger soon evaporated, however, as United began to dominate possession and cut the supply line to Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. Fernandes, floating between Everton’s rigid defensive and midfield lines, was central to the recovery.
Nemanja Matic swept the visitors’ first chance against the crossbar after being picked out on the edge of the area by Fred, stationed on the left of Solskjær’s midfield diamond. The Serbia midfielder was then denied by Jordan Pickford after testing the Everton goalkeeper with a powerful angled drive. Mason Greenwood should have made Pickford work when beating Leighton Baines to Fred’s delivery but headed over from close range. United were in control.
Ancelotti was growing visibly irritated at his team’s inability to retain possession and his problems increased when Séamus Coleman hobbled off injured. His replacement, Djibil Sidibé, remembered to wear both socks this time – unlike when coming on against Crystal Palace – but he still made a clumsy introduction, conceding possession with a wayward pass to Theo Walcott, who was caught flat-footed. United pounced ruthlessly: Matic released Fernandes in space and, with no Everton defender near, the midfielder drilled an emphatic finish inside Pickford’s near post from 25 yards. The shot swerved and dipped just in front of the England keeper but, with Gareth Southgate looking on from the directors’ box, Pickford should not have been beaten so easily. Another goalkeeping error to balance things up.
The game diminished as a spectacle thereafter with a procession of bookings breaking up play. Calvert-Lewin and Luke Shaw were shown cards after a foul by the Everton forward sent the full-back tumbling and he reacted furiously to Tom Davies catching him while on the ground. Ancelotti and Duncan Ferguson were forced to act as peace-makers, dragging their players away from the resulting melee.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was inches away from restoring Everton’s lead with a second-half free-kick that sailed over the United wall only to hit the post with De Gea rooted to the spot. The home side’s display improved after the break, while the visitors’ threat came on the counterattack. Keane deflected an Anthony Martial shot over from one raid and the excellent Leighton Baines made a vital interception to prevent Fernandes finding the substitute Odion Ighalo in front of goal.
Pickford redeemed himself in the 90th minute, first denying Fernandes with a finger-tip save and then throwing his body in the way of Ighalo’s follow-up when the ball dropped into his path at close range. There was still time for De Gea to make the crucial save from Sigurdsson before Richarlison set up the midfielder for what would have been a stoppage-time winner – and VAR reared its dreadful head once more. – Guardian