Everton 1-3 Man United: Bruno Fernandes powers Red Devils past Toffees, Cavani opens account
PREMIER LEAGUE By Mirror | November 7th 2020
Manchester United returned to winning ways as Bruno Fernandes steered them to a 3-1 victory over Everton.
The Red Devils fell behind in the 19th minute as Bernard pounced on a limp Victor Lindelof header to fire inside of the near post.
But Fernandes drew his side level just six minutes later, powering a header beyond Jordan Pickford from Luke Shaw's cross.
And the Portuguese midfielder added a second to complete the first-half turnaround, as his cross aimed at Marcus Rashford crept in off the post.
Everton pushed for an equaliser in the second half but United weathered the storm well and grabbed an added-time third on the counter-attack, as Edinson Cavani smashed home from Fernandes' pass for his first goal for the club.
The result sees United bounce back from defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir, and comes as a welcome relief to under-pressure manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Here are five talking points from Goodison Park.
1. Fernandes steps up again
Bruno Fernandes may be renowned for his potency from the penalty spot, but his bullet header to draw Manchester United level was another example of his superb all-round game.
The midfielder burst into the box to meet Luke Shaw's cross, timing his header to perfection to fire beyond Jordan Pickford at full stretch.
Seven minutes later, and perhaps slightly fortuitously, Fernandes grabbed his second of the match as his Marcus Rashford-bound cross hit the post and creeped over the line.
And capping an already complete display, Fernandes fed Edinson Cavani in the fifth minute of added time to seal the victory.
The contributions take Fernandes' tally to six goals in 11 games this the season, while he has also contributed six assists.
The Portugal star continues to show he is the man for the big occasion and a leader in a squad which has at times this season appeared rudderless.
He is also proving why he is anything but a 'penalty merchant'.
2. Returning stars fail to reverse Everton form
It wasn't long ago that Everton were atop the Premier League after their four-game winning run to start to the season.
The 100 per cent run also extended to the Carabao Cup, and progression to the quarter-finals saw many tipping Everton for silverware or European qualification this season.
But Carlo Ancelotti's men have come unstuck in recent weeks and three losses on the bounce sees them drop to fifth in the league having played one more fixture than their nearest rivals.
Injuries and suspensions to vital personnel including James Rodriguez, Lucas Digne, Richarlison and Seamus Coleman have taken their toll.
But with three of those four players back in the line-up, Everton remained far too slow to move the ball and the lacklustre performance was akin to the displays in the defeats Southampton and Newcastle.
With a favourable trip to Fulham in two week's time, Ancelotti will be hoping his players return form the international break revitalised and ready to end their dismal run.
3. Martial falls flat
While the result was a positive one for Manchester United, not every performance was up to scratch.
Victor Lindelof looked susceptible in central defence and, at the other end of the pitch, Anthony Martial struggled.
The Manchester United No. 9 had missed the previous three league games after his early sending off in the 6-1 thrashing by Tottenham.
And he was presented with a golden opportunity to mark his return to Premier League action in the 16th minute as a corner fell to him in the box.
But the Frenchman snatched at his effort, lashing narrowly beyond Jordan Pickford's far post.
Later in the first half, Martial had another great chance to get on the scoresheet but poked timidly straight at Jordan Pickford.
The flag went up after the chance went begging and replays showed Martial poorly mistimed his run.
The 24-year-old does not have the excuse of a lack of match sharpness due to suspension; he has started all three of United's Champions League games.
He has impressed in European competition with goals in each of his last two matches, but his Premier League form is a cause for concern.
And Edinson Cavani is knocking on the door for a first United start.
4. Pickford escapes punishment
Another match, another incredible decision by Jordan Pickford from a set piece.
Having been dropped for Robin Olsen in the previous match, Pickford was recalled by Carlo Ancelotti for the visit of the Red Devils.
With his status as England No. 1 reaffirmed by Gareth Southgate in midweek, this was the chance for Pickford to put his shaky form behind him.
Granted, there was little he could have done for either goal; Bruno Fernandes' header nestled in the top corner and he was fortunate to see his cross go in off the post.
But Pickford produced another jaw-dropping moment in the second half, dropping a free kick on the byline and proceeding to clatter Harry Maguire as he tried to pounce on the loose ball.
The goalkeeper avoided punishment for the challenge and rallied well, making a good save to deny Marcus Rashford and claiming a dangerous cross.
But the error will lead to more scrutiny of his status at club and country.
5. Where does this leave Solskjaer?
With Manchester United behind in the first half, the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to be reaching a critical point.
With defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir fresh in the memory, the trip to Goodison Park was billed as a must-win fixture for the Red Devils.
And after falling behind, they showed the character they have been missing in recent weeks to dig deep and lead by the interval.
As well as reversing the scoreline, United sucked the life out of Everton and showed control and dominance scarcely seen this season.
With Harry Maguire steadfast in defence, United weathered a late flurry of Everton attacks and held on for a vital win which propelled them to 13th in the league.
The victory ensures United head into the international break on a positive note and with home ties against West Brom and Istanbul Basaksehir after the break, the Red Devils have the chance to put together a run of wins.
It could be a defining run for United's season and Solskjaer's future.