It wouldn’t be the best goal in Anthony Gordon’s career but it could be the most important. Boyhood Evertonian scored a precious victory for his side in their increasingly fraught attempt to avoid relegation as Manchester United’s side suffered a serious setback.
Gordon’s skewed kick in the first half was the difference between Everton The team who gave up their lives and the united side who go through the motions shamefully. They enjoyed plenty of ball possession, but the show without soul and emotion underscored just how much of a job interim manager would bequeath to potential successor Erik ten Hag.
Frank Lampard still faces the big task of keeping Everton in the top flight, but it has been the response he has been craving to accusations that his players lack the character and quality to survive. Ben Godfrey put in a phenomenal performance in central defence, Fabian Delph and Alex Iwobi tirelessly in midfield, while Richarlison and Vitaly Mikolenko did everything to preserve the crucial three points.
Anxiety had haunted Goodison after devastating defeats at West Ham and Burnley pushed Everton closer to the trapdoor and heightened doubts about his players being shot. Lampard responded by calling up Alan and Michael Keane from suspension, bringing down Abdoulaye Doukuri and switching to trying Delph in midfield. It was the 32-year-old’s seventh appearance in another season with injuries but it was his 200th appearance of the season Premier League Total.
Delph and Alan provided a deep but valuable shield for the defense which caused its own problems due to Kane’s tendency to give up possession on the cheap.
It was a game of meager quality, as would be expected from a side mired in relegation problems but not a team looking to qualify for the Champions League. United held out at the start of their Everton career, with the least amount of fuss to control the ball and force their hosts to back down. Jordan Pickford saved well from Marcus Rashford after Delph headed Bruno Fernandes’s dangerous free kick towards the United striker as he vanished unchecked on the edge of the penalty area.
Everton goalkeeper Rashford again blocked, with a clever save low to his right, when Fernandes found a cross that jumped between two defenders.
Everton didn’t threaten much. Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s grueling recovery from a long-term injury tested the patience of the home team’s fans, as did Alan when he was sent off by Cristiano Ronaldo in midfield. However, Everton found a lifeline in the aftermath. Gordon threw himself in defiance to regain control and suddenly his side was on top. Richarlison’s attempt to find Iwobi inside the area was blocked by Nemanja Matic, starting with injured Scott McTominay, but his touch found Gordon alone outside the penalty area. A shot into the net, David de Gea covered it, but she took a huge deflection off Harry Maguire’s hip and sailed behind the wrong-footed goalkeeper. Little bit of the big weight was lifted on Everton.
Kane headed a Gordon free kick moments later. Richarlison almost scored a second when Pickford cornered the long ball beautifully, and his shot over De Gea rebounded through Victor Lindelof’s heel. The bouncer reacted brilliantly to flip over his dick. The same cannot be said of his teammates.
The visiting team lost Fred to a first-half injury, but Paul Pogba’s introduction did nothing to piss or create their performance. Rangnick demanded a response on the touchline, Ronaldo made his annoyance palpable as well, as he got a late booking for kicking a dead ball into the crowd, but the end product wasn’t there. What few promising positions they created were held off by Godfrey and Kane, who put on a greatly improved show in the second half.
Everton sought to protect their lead for most of the second half, but resumed a penalty when Gordon fell into a feud with Alex Telles. Neither referee, Jonathan Moss, nor VAR have been transferred.
There was anxiety in the home team when the fourth official, Martin Atkinson, announced 5 minutes of injury time. Ronaldo had one good chance when Maguire bounced his way but Pickford saved again and Everton was put off.
Richarlison, Iwobi and Mikolenko collapsed to the ground in exhaustion and relief at the final whistle. They are not finished yet.
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