Manchester United 4-1 Everton: Toone at the double as Reds return to fourth with comeback win

Marc Skinner’s Manchester United sprung a sublime comeback from 1-0 down on Sunday, beating Everton at Leigh Sports Village courtesy of four second-half goals and returning to the top four in the process.

Everton took the lead within ten minutes after pouncing on a defensive error, but United came out with renewed vigour after halftime, and Millie Turner’s header was swiftly followed by an Ella Toone brace. Leah Galton completed the rout in the dying seconds.

As it happened

An open start to Sunday’s match saw the Toffees remain compact defensively when United went to attack, but the home side still had their chances to strike an early blow – good pressure on Courtney Brosnan by Nikita Parris panicked the Everton keeper into a wild clearance, and moments later United’s top scorer had the first real shot of the game but her powerful effort went wide of the post.

Everton quickly reminded the hosts of their threat on the break, though, with Justine Vanhaevermaet carrying the ball high up the pitch to play in Kathrine Kühl – whose shot drew sharp gasps from United supporters as it clipped the far post.

Though Kühl looked Everton’s greatest threat, it was Katja Snoejis who found the unexpected opener – or rather, was gifted it by the opponents. The Dutchwoman pounced on Maya Le Tissier’s overly casual backpass and had ample time to slot in a straightforward finish past a furious Mary Earps, much to the delight of Brian Sørensen.

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The Reds and their manager were clearly frustrated by their misfortune and looked to immediately respond, but couldn’t break down a buoyant Everton side. United had the majority of possession for the remainder of the half, with their best play coming down the left wing through Lucia Garcia – they created several chances to equalise, but only one of their 8 shots hit the target.

The closest the Reds came to an equaliser in the first half was just after the forty-minute mark through Geyse – the Brazilian had so far been thwarted before she could get a shot off, but this time was able to beat Elise Stenevik to storm into the box. Everton fans had real cause for concern as they saw her one-on-one with Brosnan – but the keeper took the brunt of Geyse’s subsequent shot to keep her team in front, and the underdogs entered the break in the lead.

United re-entered the game with purpose, but at first still struggled to convert their attacking play into attempts on target. The tempo picked up in the 51st minute, with the crowd roaring as Lucia Garcia ran to the edge of the box but couldn’t find her feet to release a shot. The Reds’ attackers continued to knock on Everton’s door and won multiple corners, one causing great consternation as Millie Turner was brought down in the box, but Lauren Impey was unimpressed and play continued.

The pressure finally told after 56 minutes when an attempt by Geyse was once again deflected from a corner. Though they’d failed to convert so many in the first hour, Turner was lurking at the back post and this time her header shot past Brosnan to level the score.

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Only minutes later, the hosts’ new confidence saw them take the lead – Ella Toone, having scuffed her initial shot on the edge of the box, regained composure to slam the ball into the bottom right corner. Everton’s defence, which had held together so well in the first half, had their hard work undone with a rapid two goals.

Though the Toffees made a brief attempt to venture out in search of their own equaliser, the momentum continued firmly in United’s favour. Less than ten minutes after putting her side in front, Toone opened up a more comfortable lead. This time it was a loose touch on Everton’s part that allowed Naalsund to nick the ball on the edge of the area, finding herself with enough time to place a pass to Toone who dutifully buried it past Brosnan.

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None of Everton’s substitutes would prove game-changing – Katrine Veje and Martina Piemonte’s introduction gave United’s defenders something to think about, but Everton’s only real chance to bring themselves back into the game came just at the end of the 90 minutes. Piemonte controlled the ball well and swivelled to shoot from close range – but Earps reacted quickly to push it wide.

The game ended with two highly positive signs for United: Hinata Miyazawa was brought on to replace Garcia, marking the end of an ankle problem that has seen her sidelined since November. Leah Galton, also coming back from injury, announced her return to the team in style with United’s fourth and final goal of the game – a powerful left footed strike into the far corner.

What could have been a death blow to United’s already-slim Champions League hopes was avoided, and they return to fourth in the table. Everton, meanwhile, stay tenth and winless in four games.

The lineups

MUN: Earps; Blundell, Turner, Le Tissier, Mannion; Zelem, Naalsund; Garcia, Toone, Geyse; Parris

EVE: Brosnan; Stenevik, Finnigan, Hope, Galli; Vanhaevermaet; Kühl, Bennison, Wheeler, Payne; Snoeijs