Everton vs. Manchester United
Venue: Goodison Park
Date: Sunday, 4 December 2016
Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Manchester United draw 1-1 for the third consecutive league game, as Everton snatched a late equaliser at Goodison Park.
It was probably a fair result, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic giving the visitors the lead four minutes before half-time.
As expected, the Toffees rallied after the break, and they were rewarded when former Everton man Marouane Fellaini gave away a penalty, to which Leighton Baines stroked home.
It was a quiet first half in terms of chances, with Michael Carrick doing well to clear Yannick Bolasie’s right-wing cross but feisty in terms of talking points.
Shortly after Paul Pogba had fired over, Marcos Rojo saw yellow when a red card was warranted for a two-footed lunge on Idrissa Gueye.
Ibrahimovic saw a free-kick in a dangerous position strike the wall, as Gareth Barry was finally booked for his third foul, after his initial challenge on the former and deliberate handball went unpunished.
Maarten Stekelenburg venturing off his line allowed Ibrahimovic to lob the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, and the ball bounced, struck the bar, struck the post but spun over the line despite the best efforts of Ramiro Funes Mori to clear, as goalline technology confirmed the goal.
There was time for Anthony Martial to see a shot held before the interval arrived.
After the break, David De Gea did well to convert Kevin Mirallas’ shot over the bar with his right leg, as Martial’s shot deflected off of Seamus Coleman and looped wide and Ibrhaimovic saw a shot blocked.
Cutting onto his left foot, Mkhitaryan’s shot was also blocked, before his retrieval allowed him to play in Michael Carrick on the overlap, and his held up cross was brought down by Ander Herrera, before the Spaniard sliced an effort which rattled the bar.
Failing to kill off the game invited the Everton pressure, as Idrissa Gueye forced De Gea into a parry with a swerving attempt, as substitute Enner Valencia headed straight at De Gea from Mason Holgate’s cross.
Coming off the bench to help see his side over the line, it was Fellaini, against his former employers who left a leg out as Gueye went down, and Baines snuck his penalty past De Gea’s right-hand in a gift handed to the hosts wrapped tighter than most Christmas presents will be.
It almost got worse for United as Valencia’s shot deflected wide and Baines’ drive was beaten away, with full-time bringing proceedings to a close.
Despite the positive performances going unrewarded in recent weeks, this looked like being a grinded out victory when not playing that well in a tough venue, wins that can be key when pursuing positions nearer the top.
That wasn’t to be, with top four a tough ask in just the first week of December.
Maybe the knockout competitions will now become a priority for Jose Mourinho, whose side still need a point from Thursday’s trip to Zorya Luhansk to seal progression to the round of 32 in the Europa League, in a 6pm kick-off.
After that sees the visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford in a 2:15pm kick-off, in a huge fixture given the precarious nature of the league position.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian; Carrick; Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 85), Herrera, Pogba, Martial (Rashford 83); Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Blind, Mata, Lingard.
Manager: Jose Mourinho
Everton: Stekelenburg; Coleman (Holgate 67), Williams, Funes Mori, Baines; Gueye, Barry, Cleverley (Deulofeu 65); Bolasie (Valencia 68), Lukaku, Mirallas.
Subs not used: Robles, Jagielka, Barkley, McCarthy.
Manager: Ronald Koeman