Anthony Gordon immeasurably boosted Everton’s hopes of surviving the Premier League when his first-half goal proved the difference in a scrappy affair against Manchester United.
Ordon’s deflected try before the half-hour eased the pressure on Frank Lampard after a 3-2 midweek defeat at relegation rivals Burnley left Everton just a single point above the drop zone.
This was far from a classic performance from either side, but a 1-0 win for the Toffees puts daylight between them and the bottom three as United’s top-four ambitions suffered another premature dent.
Ralf Rangnick made half a dozen changes from last week’s 1-1 draw with Leicester – Lampard himself made four – as Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford returned to the starting XI.
The busy Rashford was thwarted twice early by Jordan Pickford but Ronaldo was largely subdued as United fell short of Champions League places after being crushed by Gordon’s shot which found visiting captain Harry Maguire and stuck goalkeeper David De Gea .
Up to that point, Everton were lacking in inspiration but they noticeably grew in stature after pressing on as the mood at Goodison Park changed dramatically, despite being relatively defeated by a United side who had won just one of their last five top-class playground equipment was not scared of much.
Given that both teams lack confidence it was perhaps unsurprising that it was reticent in the opening few minutes, complete with stray passes and those teams in possession, although Everton were particularly hesitant as United approached the Spike came and had two early sightings scored by Rashford.
The by then out-of-form striker was lively down the left flank and had parried a snap from the outstretched Pickford, who moments later came superbly low to parry a header from the England striker as Gordon erased any danger on the rebound.
Everton appeared listless and lethargic and their fans were growing restless, but the atmosphere and momentum changed when they took the lead in the 27th minute after some indolence from United.
Richarlison’s attempted cutback on Alex Iwobi broke just outside the box for Gordon, who valued placement over power and was grateful for a nasty distraction from Maguire, who caught De Gea flat-footed as the ball sailed into the net.
The goal sent Everton into an uproar, moments later Michael Keane headed over while another deflected try, this time by Richarlison, had to be overturned by De Gea.
United were forced into a move before the break, with Fred apparently nursing an injury and being withdrawn for Paul Pogba, whose first significant contribution saw him turn Gordon midway to go in the referee’s book after the break.
Rashford had just penetrated behind the Everton defense and although he failed to touch Bruno Fernandes’ pass, the ball narrowly dripped with Pickford out of position.
It was Rashford’s last engagement as he and Nemanja Matic were hooked for Anthony Elanga and Juan Mata, with Ralf Rangnick fielding all three of his substitutes within 64 minutes.
United gradually began to apply pressure in the closing stages, with Everton throwing bodies in the way as the ball was worked into the box, although Pogba forced a clever save from Pickford late on.
Pickford was again called upon to thwart Ronaldo with the half-volley after being teased by Maguire before the referee’s whistle for full-time was greeted by a burst of noise.
Pumping his fist on the touchline, Lampard no doubt breathed a sigh of relief after scoring a momentous win – just the third of his tenure in the league in 10 tries.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/premier-league/everton-take-big-step-towards-survival-as-man-united-sink-lower-at-goodison-park-41537108.html Everton take big step towards survival as Man United sink deeper at Goodison Park