Manchester United returned to winning ways in nervy fashion as they held off a late Everton surge before recording a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Sunday
The first quarter of the game was a scrappy affair as neither side managed to test the goalkeeper on the two ends. But, Manchester United raised their level as the half-hour mark approached, with Anthony Martial first forcing Jordan Pickford into a decent save before winning a penalty when Idrissa Gueye tripped him in the Everton box.
Paul Pogba stepped up to take the spot-kick in his typical moseying fashion. But, Pickford did well to get his hands on the ball, although the Everton no. 1 could do nothing about the rebound, which Pogba slotted calmly. Thereafter, Manchester United only grew in ascendancy, although they could not add to their advantage before half-time.
But, the hosts continued piling on the pressure at the start of the second half, and were soon 2-0 up as Martial produced a scintillating long-range goal that curled perfectly past Pickford’s outstretched hands. The rest of the evening saw the two sides trading blows before Everton finally found a way back into the game.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 28, 2018
Chris Smalling brought Richarlison down with a clumsy tackle that saw Jon Moss point to the spot. Gylfi Sigurdsson then made no error converting from the spot. But, the Toffees could not find the equaliser as Manchester United held on for the narrow win. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men after a somewhat convincing display.
David de Gea: 7/10
A relatively quiet outing for de Gea than what he has grown accustomed to this season. Tested just once by a low effort from Richarlison. Otherwise, the only shots that the Manchester United no. 1 saved were central and straightforward, and he was more certain while distributing the ball as well. Couldn’t have done anything to stop Sigurdsson from scoring.
Ashley Young: 7/10
The right-back slot has been a problem area for Manchester United this season, with Ashley Young being a major contributor. On Sunday, however, the veteran Englishman turned back the years somewhat by producing a promising showing in the final third, spraying in a number of balls from the right flank.
On the opposite end, Young was largely solid, keeping a check on Bernard for the most part. In fact, he made just one error at the back, although Everton did come close to scoring due to it, before Bernard failed to find the back of the net. All in all though, it was a convincing performance from the 33-year-old.
Chris Smalling: 5/10
Smalling may have been the standout centre-back for Manchester United this season, but his outing on Sunday was one to forget. Can be considered lucky to not get booked a second time over the course of the game, and brought on unnecessary pressure on his side due to the silly tackle that resulted in the penalty. Otherwise, there wasn’t much to say about his performance on the night.
Victor Lindelof: 7/10
Moving on to a showing that was the polar opposite to Smalling’s at the heart of the Manchester United defence. Lindelof started off in nervy fashion but soon composed himself to keep a check on the Everton attack.
With three interceptions and two blocks, there was very little way past him for the visitors, who could only bypass the Swede in the air, at times. His ability to accurately find his man in the final third with a long ball came in handy as well. A tidy performance, as Lindelof continues to grow in confidence.
Luke Shaw: 7/10
An outing in a similar vein as the one against Juventus. Shaw did not get forward all that much with Martial hugging the left byline. Whenever he did find his way into the final third though, the full-back was a potent threat. At the back, he kept a lid on Theo Walcott’s output, but had to deal with two men at times, when Martial did not contribute defensively. Solid nonetheless.
Paul Pogba: 7.5/10
Paul Pogba's game by numbers vs. Everton:
most final third passes (25)
most shots (6)
most shots on target (5)
most shots from inside the box (4)
joint most dribbles (3)
second most chances created (2)
A standout performance going forward… 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/7QCdV7883r
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 28, 2018
This was a game that perhaps defines Pogba’s second stint at Manchester United the best. The World Cup winner was the clear standout in the middle of the park across both sides as he ran the show with his world class passing abilities – he made the most passes in the final third (25) and created the second most chances (2).
His French connection with Martial was especially pleasing, and it indeed yielded the second goal. But, as is the case so often with Pogba, showboating got the better of him as he needlessly gave the ball away before Everton won the penalty. Nevertheless, there were more positives than negatives for Pogba, who is now on the cusp of equalling his goal tally from last season.
He may need to change his run-up for the penalty though, even if he managed to find the back of the net from the rebound.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
A much improved performance from Matic. The Serb did get overrun to begin with, as has been the case all season long. But, with Pogba and Fred willing to contribute on the defensive side of things, he soon found his feet and kept a check on Sigurdsson. A lot more room for improvement remains, however.
Back into the starting lineup after more than a month, Fred provided a reminder of his abilities in an impressive outing. A bundle of energy for the most part before cramps got the better of him, the Brazilian was a major reason why Manchester United transitioned quickly and looked much better in the final third. Will hope to get a consistent run of games under his belt now.
Juan Mata: 6/10
Mata may have started out on the right flank. But, the plan of action was always to play in a free role and find pockets of space for himself. While the Spaniard did open up play brilliantly, he often took an extra touch, which slowed the game down. Also missed a free header, although that is not one of his strong suits.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Jose Mourinho had flirted with the idea during his pre-match press conference, and Rashford did end up being named as the striker on Sunday. But, in what is indicative of his confidence in this side, the young Englishman did not do much of note bar a late chance when he forced Pickford to make a strong save.
The instincts of a striker seem to be missing from Rashford’s game, although one can point towards the constant switching of positions that he has undergone in the last couple of seasons. Will hope to do better if afforded another chance as a striker.
Anthony Martial: 8/10
Anthony Martial's game by numbers vs. Everton:
100% shot accuracy
4 chances created
2 aerial duels won
2 fouls won
The standout performer. 👏 pic.twitter.com/jQT9fEdHE0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 28, 2018
Martial’s stunning turnaround continued on Sunday, with the Frenchman being the most potent threat for Manchester United. In contrast to the showing against Juventus, he added more dimensions to his game against the Toffees, and was even willing to shift towards his left foot, which created the chance for Juan Mata early on.
The electric change of pace also saw him earn the penalty, forcing Idrissa Gueye into a tackle. But, the standout moment for Martial was the devastating finish that few goalkeepers would have had an answer to.
Should have grabbed a second on the night before he produced a tame finish, but that was the only negative in a stellar performance. Manchester United will now be scrambling to reach an agreement with him over a new deal soon.
Romelu Lukaku: 4/10
Mourinho would have hoped for a reaction from Lukaku after he was dropped from the starting XI. But, the Belgian only seemed to have got worse, as he just couldn’t get going in the final 30 minutes or so. Produced a tame finish under no pressure after being found by Pogba. In serious need of inspiration.
Ander Herrera: N/A
On for the final 10 minutes of the game, Herrera helped shore up things in midfield, and even made two successful tackles – only Fred and Shaw completed more.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
Replacing a tired Fred for the final few seconds, Lingard did not have any time to do anything of note.