EVERTON 1, MAN UNITED 0
Manchester United can forget about a top-four finish and Champions League football next season on the evidence of their disappointing display and defeat at relegation-threatened Everton.
They will be lucky to qualify for the Europa League or Europa Conference League if they don’t improve as their miserable run continued.
Ralf Rangnick’s Reds, seventh in the table, have won only three of their last 12 matches in all competitions, an unacceptable record for a club of their size and stature.
Everton had won only three of their previous 22 Premier League matches, losing 17. And after their midweek loss at Burnley, you would have thought it ought to have been an away-day banker.
But the Reds, despite enjoying more than two thirds possession, were woeful in the final third of the pitch lacking creativity and ideas.
There were joyous scenes at the end as Everton moved four points clear of the relegation places as they showed the passion, fight and desire if they are to beat the drop.
It was only the third win in 10 league games since Frank Lampard took charge of the Toffees after succeeding Rafa Benitez.
Everton had won only one of their previous 15 games against United in all competitions and in the early stages the tension on the pitch and in the stands was evident.
Once Anthony Gordon scored what turned out to be the decisive goal, albeit with the aid of a huge deflection, it provided a belief they could win the game.Embed from Getty Images
As for the Reds, it was another of those afternoons they will quickly want to erase from the memory.
Rangnick admitted: “If you don’t score a single goal in 95 minutes, we have to be disappointed. We had a good start and should have created more chances out of that domination. Then we concede a deflected shot and lost a bit of our composure.
“The second half we were trying to add creativity with substitutions, but we didn’t always take the right decision.
“We had to do something. We needed a goal and we decided to bring Mata and more verticality with Elanga. They were defending with their players in the last 35 minutes. We didn’t find the right player at the right moment. We didn’t have enough players in the box when we played crosses.”
Asked about a new manager being a distraction, Rangnick said: “I don’t think this should be an excuse. We are Manchester United. We have lots of international players. There shouldn’t be an alibi.
“There will be a new manager next season. If this is announced now or in 10 days, it shouldn’t have an impact.”
Lampard said: “I’m very proud. Pressure times. The reality of the situation. At Goodison we have been good. We are getting clean sheets at home.
“When we come together with fans and players, we are hard to beat here.
“It starts with us. The crowd were great, but they could switch off if they see people not working. When you are not at your best you have to fight through it. You might give a ball away but the only way to get that back is to fly in and make a tackle.
“Beautiful football can come later on. I have ambitions for this club to stay up, play well, but in the position we are in, fighting comes first and foremost.
“It’s one win. We should have got a result in the week but didn’t. You have to keep going. It’s not easy when you wake up the next morning after Burnley. My job first and foremost is to lift everyone. They are a good bunch these players.”
Pundit Michael Brown added: “What a poor day for them. They’ve been nowhere near at it, they lack intensity, pace or any sort of structure. And the main man Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t had any kind of service at the top of the pitch.”
As for Everton, Brown said: “Incredible! You should see the scenes here, remarkable to beat Manchester United under this sort of pressure. Nobody gave them a chance after that defeat in the week – what a special afternoon of football.
“For Anthony Gordon to get that goal – yes it was deflected but forget about Manchester United, this is all about Everton.
“They know there’s still work to do but this was a great stride towards their campaign.”
United made six changes from their 1-1 draw with Leicester at Old Trafford last Saturday, including the return of Cristiano Ronaldo from illness.
Victor Lindelof, Alex Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka came in at the back while Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford were also drafted back in as Raphael Varane, Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw all missed out through injury.
Relegation-threatened Everton made four changes from the 3-2 midweek defeat at fellow strugglers Burnley as boss Frank Lampard set out to arrest a run of three straight defeats in all competitions.
Michael Keane and Allan returned from suspension, while experienced pair Seamus Coleman and Fabian Delph were also brought back in as Jonjoe Kenny, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Jarrad Branthwaite and Mason Holgate dropped to the bench.
There was one minute’s applause in memory of Everton favourite Terry Darracott who has died aged 71.
United carved out the game’s first chances in the ninth minute when Marcus Rashford drew a smart save from Jordan Pickford and Ronaldo fired narrowly wide.
Rashford’s header from Telles’ cross then forced Pickford into action again as United were the livelier attacking threat.
The anxiety among the home fans was palpable as misplaced passes and other errors were greeted by moans.
But the mood lifted when Everton went ahead in the 27th minute with their first goal attempt of the game through Gordon, one of their own.
Richarlison cut in from the left and squared a pass to 21-year-old Gordon whose effort from the edge of the box took a huge deflection off Harry Maguire to beat David De Gea for his fourth goal of the season.
Everton’s confidence soared and moments later Michael Keane headed narrowly over from Gordon’s free kick.
De Gea prevented Everton doubling their advantage with a super save to turn over Richarlison’s deflected effort off Lindelof which was looping in.
United were forced into a change nine minutes before the break when Fred limped off to be replaced by Paul Pogba.
Everton grew in stature as underlined when defender Ben Godfrey headed narrowly over from Gordon’s corner.
United, who were desperately poor, needed new impetus and mid-half Rangnick made two changes as Nemanja Matic and the disappointing Rashford were replaced by Juan Mata and Anthony Elanga.
Everton had a shout for a penalty rejected after Gordon went down as he tangled with Telles for referee Jon Moss waved play on and VAR did not intervene.
United offered precious little, though Pogba’s drive forced a decent save by Pickford.
And in the fourth of five added minutes, Ronaldo had his only chance of the match but was denied by Pickford.