Marcus Rashford scored for a fifth successive game as Manchester United increased the pressure on Everton boss Frank Lampard with a deserved FA Cup victory at Old Trafford.
Everton were applauded off by their travelling support for showing admirable character, after their side suffered the shock of going behind after just three minutes when Antony turned home Rashford’s far-post cross but had the character to fight back.
Conor Coady rammed home a 13th-minute equaliser when David de Gea calamitously allowed Neal Maupay’s apparently harmless cross to roll though his legs as he appeared to think it was about to hit the outside of his post.
Even after Alex Iwobi was stretchered off in obvious pain after he suffered an ankle injury in a tackle with Tyrell Malacia, Lampard’s players continued to battle hard.
But once some brilliant approach play from Rashford had deceived Coady into turning the forward’s cross into his own net, the visitors’ character alone was not enough. And after Dominic Calvert-Lewin ruled out an offside goal, Man of the Match Rashford kept his nerve, defeating fellow England international Jordan Pickford on a late penalty in injury time to clinch his fifth consecutive title in his club career. Achieved.
Rashford good, De Gea not so good
It’s ironic that De Gea made a big mistake on the same day that United announced the loan of former England goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Ahead of the match, Ten Hag took the unusual step of talking about Butland before completing his season-ending loan from Crystal Palace. In doing so, the United manager has said many times that it was clear that De Gea was his first choice.
The goal was bad enough, but De Gea, whose form has been good overall this season, nearly gave Everton a second equalizer in the second half.
The former Spanish goalkeeper is still in talks for a contract extension that expires in the summer. Mistakes like this one would strengthen United’s position as they believe they are not worth their current £375,000 a week wage.
Rashford, by contrast, is well-positioned to believe that United’s hierarchy wants him to stay until the end of next season when his current contract is extended.
On top of his goals and his two assists, Rashford pulled out Pickford with excellent fingertip saves and provided a much stronger offensive threat to a team that didn’t always hit highs. .
However, United, who have won 10 of his 11 wins in all competitions, have finished his week, including his EFL Cup quarter-final against Charlton, before facing Manchester City on 14 January.
Everton’s 4-1 home defeat to Brighton saw a defiant atmosphere at Tuesday’s closing whistle at Goodison Park and ‘suck the board’ from a strong contingent of 9,500 visitors 15 minutes earlier. Conceding too early must have been very worrying for Lampard, given the seething frustration that prompted the three chants.
For some time afterward, it looked like Everton would be wiped out as the hosts attempted to repeat their early success.
Kudos to the Lampard players for holding on and starting their way to the competition before De Gea’s mistake leveled the score.
Coady’s character is so positive and his influence is so great that Gareth Southgate has taken this defender to his two tournaments even though he hasn’t given him a single match.
The man many want to be Wolves captain embodies his fighting spirit that Everton are desperately seeking in their current predicament.
It was disappointing that he took charge of second for United, but he usually refused to let setbacks affect him.
After the final whistle, the players’ contributions were highly praised by Everton fans, but club officials were sent off in place of Lampard, who continues to come under pressure after two draws and six defeats in his last eight games. There was another chant that I should.
Man Utd apology
As they celebrated their side’s second goal, a section of the Manchester United fans chanted ‘Sacked in the morning’ at Lampard and followed up with a familiar homophobic chant about Chelsea, the club he had a stellar playing career with.
In October, after a similar song was sung by United fans at Stamford Bridge, the club released a statement condemning the abuse, and after this latest incident they reiterated their position.
“Homophobia, like all forms of discrimination, has no place in football. Manchester United are proud of our diverse fan base and the work we have done to reduce instances like we sadly heard today,” the club said.
“We will continue to campaign for inclusivity and to tackle discriminatory abuse whether inside stadiums or online. This includes working with fan groups to educate fans on the offence which discriminatory language causes.”