Manchester United 2-0 Everton: Two first-half penalties see Red Devils past the Toffees

Defeated in their last two Premier League fixtures, Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United returned to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon to face Everton – with the match coming as a great opportunity to rebuild confidence ahead of next weekend’s Emirates FA Cup quarterfinal against Liverpool.

MUN: Onana; Lindelöf, Varane, Evans, Dalot; Casemiro, Mainoo; McTominay, Garnacho; Rashford, Fernandes

EVE: Pickford; Mykolenko, Branthwaite, Tarkowski, Godfrey; McNeil, Onana, Garner, Harrison; Doucoure; Beto

Saturday afternoon’s match at Old Trafford was certainly a strange one – and one in which a relegation-threatened Everton side looked more than capable of holding their own, had it not been for two first-half defensive blunders.

James Tarkowski was adjudged to have tripped Alejandro Garnacho inside the penalty area after just ten minutes, allowing Bruno Fernandes to dispatch a convincing effort from the penalty spot that saw Jordan Pickford beaten with a low shot.

But despite wondrous chances for both Dwight McNeil and Amadou Onana before the half-hour mark, it would be the Red Devils that doubled their lead with ten minutes remaining before the break. Garnacho drew another foul inside the penalty area, this time from Ben Godfrey, allowing Marcus Rashford to drive a fierce strike into the bottom-left corner.

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Erik ten Hag’s side wanted a third spot-kick just before the interval after Garnacho’s ball into the box struck the hand of Vitalii Mykolenko – but the Ukrainian was found to have done no wrong, much to the frustration of the hosts.

The Toffees would likely, given the chance, choose to forget their second half showing. As they had done in the first period, Sean Dyche’s side created a plethora of chances – but truly dismal finishing let them down, and as the final whistle blew in Manchester, Everton were forced to submit to another defeat that leaves them with just five points from the past 11 games.

With their points deductions still yet to be finalised ahead of another hearing, Everton simply have to start converting their chances – else the threat of relegation could become very real, very quickly for Dyche’s men.

At the other end of the table, Manchester United’s hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League are still far from certain. Tottenham are three points clear of the Red Devils and have two games in hand; Ange Postecoglou will be determined not to let that lead slip.