Manchester United got its 11th away win in 12 matches as the Reds knocked off Everton with a solid 1-3 result. Bernard scored the first goal of the match before a brace from Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani’s first goal in Red would earn some breathing room for the embattled Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Except for a few chance moments, Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton proved difficult to break down in the first half. The Toffees were well-drilled and in position to keep forward passing lanes minimal with many passages of United possession just involving passes between Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelöf, Fred, and Scott McTominay.
United’s closest scoring opportunity in the early part of the half came in the 16th minute. A United corner was deflected out by Mason Holgate while Fred flailed at the volley but completely whiffed. Still, he managed to create enough space to squeak a ball through to Anthony Martial who beat Jordan Pickford but glided his effort wide of the right post
Disaster would strike in the 19th minute, however. Pickford boomed a ball to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who rose above Lindelöf, who continues to be frustratingly ineffective in the air. DCL immediately headed the ball down to Bernard, and the Brazilian made a move to the left before cutting to the right. Bernard got off a low-driven shot between the legs of Aaron Wan-Bissaka that caught David De Gea off guard and went into the back of the net to break the stalemate.
Minutes later, like he did in January, Fernandes came to United’s rescue again. Luke Shaw played a perfect cross into the center of the box. Fernandes made a clever run that split the center backs and put power behind his header, beating Pickford.
United would find its lead in the 33rd minute as Fred played an incisive ball up the center to Rashford. The forward laid the ball off to the left side to Fernandes before continuing his own run. Fernandes quickly chipped the ball up to a rising Rashford who failed to get his head on the ball, but his presence and impending threat was enough to freeze Pickford. Unable to react quick enough to the chipped ball that was not redirected, it drifted past Pickford and clanged off the right post into the net.
The second half would play out a lot more openly and aggressively as Everton tried to find an equalizer and United tried to kill the game off on the counter.
Some Pickford-related controversy would rear its pale head in the 60th minute as Maguire and Pickford fought for a loose ball in the box. With the ball still in the air, Pickford would go for a high kick that caught Maguire in the side, but the referee determined that Muay Thai is just one more thing Pickford can get away with when he challenges expensive defenders.
In the 95th minute, United would finally find its goal off the counter attack. With Everton pushing forward for a last gasp equalizer, Fernandes gained possession and pushed it up centrally. With United having numbers on the counter, Fernandes waited patiently for the defensive step up and laid the ball off to the left to Cavani. El Matador confidently curled his effort past Pickford to notch his first goal for United.
On top of this being an important result for Solskjaer, this proved to be a strong bounce back for Fernandes who has looked scatterbrained in recent weeks. Involved in all three goals, Fernandes did a much better job of being in the right spaces, and he was active without the ball. He teetered the line of recklessness at times as he continued to aggressively go after Seamus Coleman while on a yellow card, but, ultimately, he set the tone that United were not going to get bossed by Everton and the result showed.
Bruno to Ole after the Bernard goal pic.twitter.com/JuF9mmT9fF— Nathan (@NathanIsRed) November 7, 2020
After a turbulent week that saw United lose back-to-back matches, a result over one of the season’s better teams will provide some respite as United heads into the international break. It’s time for Solskjaer to determine how to string together two important home results against West Bromwich Albion on Nov. 21 and Istanbul Basaksehir on Nov. 24 before United go away to league-leading Southampton on Nov. 29.
It’s nut up or shut up time.