Zlatan Ibrahimovic rescued a late point for Manchester United as they held Everton to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Tuesday night

Manchester United hosted Everton at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, just two days coming off their disappointing result in Gameweek 30. Both sides were eager to get back to winning ways on the night, but a 1-1 stalemate ensured that they are now winless in two.

A sluggish first half saw few chances being created from either side as the game slowly settled into rhythm. But it was Ronald Koeman’s men who managed to break the deadlock midway through the first half after Phil Jagielka cleverly flicked the ball past Marcos Rojo and David De Gea.

Manchester United them came close to scoring twice through Ander Herrera, who struck the crossbar before being denied by Joel Robles. Manchester United were then the dominating side in the second half as they commanded the bulk of the possession, and came close to equalising on some more occasions.

But, the equaliser didn’t come until the dying moments when Ashley Williams was sent off for blocking Luke Shaw’s goalwards bound shot. Zlatan Ibrahimovic subsequently converted from the spot to ensure a share of the spoils and deny Everton the chance to leapfrog Manchester United into fifth spot.

The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the talking points that emerged out of another stalemate at Old Trafford, as Manchester United and Everton played out a 1-1 draw.

Clueless Attacking Proves To Be Detrimental For Manchester United

Yet another team below Manchester United paying them a visit at Old Trafford. Yet another match when Jose Mourinho’s men struggled to score past the visiting defence. And a certain pattern is starting to emerge here.

The Manchester United attack is often rendered clueless when there are men behind the ball from the opposition team. In such instances, Mourinho’s men resort to sideways passing instead of possessing a set strategy to break the stubborn defence down.

But, that is also borne out of little running off the ball on the wings and into the box, runs that can create space to create goalscoring opportunities. As a result, the likes of Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera often had to pass the ball sideways, and subsequently hopeful long balls into the box that often resulted in headed clearances rather than goalbound efforts.

All this is reminiscent of the days of Louis van Gaal, when Manchester United were seldom creative and goalscoring came at a premium. Jose Mourinho must find ways to set this right if Manchester United are to have any chances of finishing higher than where they currently are.

Gritty Everton Stand Tall Under Pressure

Everton grabbed a shock lead midway through the first and all signs pointed towards a long night of defending for the visitors, in order to preserve the lead and take home the three points. And that is exactly what happened in the seventy plus minutes that followed.

Ronald Koeman instructed his team to get the men behind the ball and play on the counter in order to get another sniff at goal. And as Manchester United piled on the pressure, the Everton defence, along with the goalkeeper, Joel Robles managed to stand tall.

Robles, in particular, was the saviour for the visitors as he made three genuinely world class saves that visiting goalkeeper have often had to conjure up at Old Trafford. In front of him, the Everton back four barely gave an inch to the Manchester United attack and valiantly took on everything that was thrown at them.

The attacking men ably supported the defence as well, and it was only an Ashley Williams handball in the last minute of the match that finally opened up a clear-cut opportunity for Manchester United to convert from. This was a match in which Everton gave a stark reminder that they could soon be standing toe-to-toe with the big boys in the Premier League.

Ronald Koeman Continues Have The Measure Of Manchester United At Old Trafford

Ronald Koeman has well and truly managed to take the Premier League by storm in nearly three years since he moved to the country from his native Netherlands. The first two years saw him lead Southampton to the heady heights of European football, leading them to consecutive top 7 finishes.

At Everton, the Dutchman has managed to take them back to the same place after two seasons of struggle under Roberto Martinez. However, in addition to all these successes, there’s a ground where he has often thrived while taking his teams, a ground where visiting teams often crumble – the mighty Old Trafford.

His first two seasons saw him record two 1-0 wins with Southampton, and he came close to making it three in a row with the same scoreline. And it all goes to show that Koeman really does have a measure of Manchester United at Old Trafford, succeeding where very few managers have been able to over the years.

But for the last minute goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronald Koeman would have become the first manager to record three consecutive away wins at Old Trafford, and it just goes to show that the Dutch manager is here to stay, and maybe even lead the Toffees to playing Champions League football again.

Luke Shaw – The Beginning Of A Comeback Trail?

He was a player who faced the heat from his manager, Jose Mourinho in the buildup to the match, but after his performance on the night, there could be signs that things are turning for the better for Luke Shaw.

Mourinho criticised Shaw a few days prior to the match for lacking focus and commitment, and very few were expecting him to make the match day squad, let alone play any part whatsoever in the match. But after playing close to thirty minutes on Tuesday, there are signs that he could soon be on the comeback trail.

Shaw was impressive with his marauding runs down the left flank, creating spaces for his attacking partners, and showing the drive to get at least one goal in the match. The youngster looked remarkably assured on the field as well, something that Mourinho has been craving from him for months.

He almost managed to grab the equaliser himself before he was cruelly denied by Ashley Williams. But, Shaw surely would have taken a lot of confidence after being one of the most influential players for Manchester United on the night, and it remains to be seen if he can play a bigger role for his club for the remainder of the campaign.

Time To Put All Eggs In One Basket?

Manchester United need to make it to the Champions League next season. There are no two ways about it. Reports even claim that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s impending contract renewal also hinges on that, which makes it all the more imperative for them to qualify for the premier European cup competition.

For the last two months, there looked to be two routes to make it to the Champions League – either finish inside the top 4 in the Premier League, or take the more cumbersome and complicated way of winning the Europa League.

As the months have worn on, one of the options has slowly started to disappear for the Red Devils, as draws after draws have meant that they are gradually taking them out of contention for a place in the top 4. After Tuesday, their predicament has only worsened, as they risk losing further ground to their rivals.

They surely still have a shot at making the top 4, but the odds are starting to rise week by week, match by match. They soon face Anderlecht in the Europa League quarterfinals and Manchester United must give it their all to qualify for the Champions League from the competition as tougher games beckon in the Premier League.

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