By Harry Ogilvie
- Valencia, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Martial all net in 4-0 win
- Three points see United level on points with City
Manchester United set up to play their third game in eight days. Against against a seasoned yet unsteady Everton side managed by former Southampton manager, Ronald Koeman.
Jose Mourinho would be sure to want to beat his Dutch counterpart after failing to win against a side managed by him since he came to England.
The United boss opted for a rather attacking side with Valencia and Young at full-back and Fellaini over a more defensive option in Ander Herrera.
The front four consisted of Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata on the wings with Mkhitaryan operating in the number ten role and former-Evertonian, Romelu Lukaku. Everton’s team also featured former United player and legend, Wayne Rooney.
This would be the Englishman’s first appearance back at Old Trafford since rejoining his boyhood club.
As Mourinho said prior to the game. Rooney would get the reception he deserves and rightly so after all he done during his time at Manchester United.
However, as the game kicked off and the minutes ticked by, it became evident as to why United had let their club record goalscorer go. He appeared way off the pace physically and could not move the ball at the pace required.
Valencia Screamer Sets United On Way
The whole Everton side did not start particularly well as United dominated possession and in the third minute they took the lead through a devastating hit from Antonio Valencia.
Nemanja Matic swung the ball across the field. It sat up nicely for the Ecuadorian who rocketed the ball past Jordan Pickford through sheer power.
This put Manchester United 1-0 up with a very long period of the game still to go.
Valencia’s goal would make Everton come out and attack United. Leaving space and areas further forward for United’s attacking players to take advantage of.
After the goal Mourinho’s side maintained the pressure.
Wave after wave of attack with Lukaku coming very close to making it 2-0. The Red Devil’s dangermen continued to look threatening with Mkhitaryan and Rashford constantly finding themselves in promising positions with little end product.
The blue Merseyside men came close once in the the first half, with Cuco Martina finding space out wide and cutting the ball back for Rooney. Who placed his shot inches wide of the post.
Apart from this well worked opportunity, Everton created very little.
United went in the more happy of the two sides with a 1-0 advantage despite missing chances and wasting opportunities in promising positions.
The Blue side of Liverpool may also have felt fortunate to only be 1-0 down.
Everton Start Second-Half The Better
Koeman’s men came flying out the blocks in the second half and looked to be playing with far more purpose compared to their first half performance.
They appeared to be closing the ball down much faster and came close a second time, through Rooney again.
Everton’s confidence was clearly improving as they came into the game, keeping possession more effectively and moving the ball with more speed.
Despite not doing much with possession, they were clearly keeping the ball better than United.
This provoked Mourinho to make some changes with Lingard coming on for Rashford to help Young out defensively down the left and Herrera on for Mata to regain possession and dominate the midfield again.
Lingard was right into the action, winning fouls, getting into good positions as well as getting into strong shooting positions.
The United youth product also had penalty appeal waved away after a risky challenge from Ashley Williams.
Mkhitaryan, Lukaku and Martial Put Gloss On Win
In the 83rd minute, United doubled their lead, as the Lukaku received the ball on the edge of the box and neatly slipped in Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who finished expertly.
This was a typical Jose Mourinho side performance. Winning despite not playing particularly well.
Romelu Lukaku went from creator to goalscorer, after his free kick hit the wall and fell to Matic. Who crossed the ball in. Lingard then flicked the ball on to the back post where Lukaku finished comfortably to put his new side 3-0 up. Before pedalling away to celebrate.
Two minutes later, United broke away on a counter attack after an Everton corner.
Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial were the pair leading the charge. Martial cut inside, causing former red, Schneiderlin to slide in and in doing so, the Frenchman’s hand stroked the ball. Causing Marriner to point to the spot.
Manchester United had gone from struggling to hold on to their 1-0 lead to winning 4-0 with a minute left of added time. This game was similar to the Swansea game this season. Where there was another late flurry of goals.
Matic Impresses Once Again
The best performance of the game came from Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian international covered every blade of grass. He bagged an assist, completed 72 passes and was the one player who was brilliant throughout the whole game.
His positioning, defensive contribution and work rate was flawless from the first minute to the last.
The holding midfielder was seen in both boxes repeatedly throughout the game, creating chances in and around Everton’s box and breaking up attacks on the edge our box.
The Manager’s View
Jose Mourinho said his side were “ultra dominant” and if we were two or three up inside the first half an hour, it would have been a clear reflection of the “fantastic football” played.
When asked about Paul Pogba, the boss said “I don’t know if it is twelve weeks or twelve days honestly, so any rumours are clearly wrong.”
He was also asked about why Martial took the penalty: “The penalty taker today was Juan Mata, but he was out so I let the players take the decision. It is nice for Anthony Martial, fine for me, no problem.”
Ultimately, the scoreline flattered a largely underwhelming displayed from Manchester United despite a breath taking early strike from Antonio Valencia.
Having said that, the side deserve credit for their mentality. They refused to give up and kept applying pressure when in good positions.
Eventually this paid off and after the Mkhitaryan goal, the pressure and worry of conceding an equaliser was lift. This allowed them to go out and take advantage of the spaces Everton were leaving when going forward.
Another game. Another 4-0 win from Mourinho’s men and of course, another quietly excellent game from Nemanja Matic.