Manchester United win against Everton

Premier League

With a lopsided victory at Old Trafford, Manchester United tightened their hold on a top-four spot and kept Everton mired in relegation jeopardy.

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Anthony Martial’s first Premier League goal since December and a quality first-half effort from Scott McTominay were sufficient for United to win.

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Yet, Erik ten Hag’s team should have won by more since Jordan Pickford made several excellent stops and Aaron Wan-Bissaka inexplicably missed putting the ball in the back of the net after Antony’s attempt came back to him off a post.

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Marcus Rashford being forced to leave the pitch and being seen stumbling through the tunnel to the home dressing room caused late alarm for the hosts.

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The return of Martial and Christian Eriksen, who returned as a substitute after missing two and a half months due to an ankle injury, was appreciated as Brazilian midfielder Casemiro finished his four-game domestic suspension, but it is not what Ten Hag needs before Thursday’s Europa League quarterfinal against Sevilla.

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As for Everton, they are in the uncomfortable situation of having to wait to see how others fare before knowing the full extent of this defeat’s harm while also being aware that there is no simple solution to guarantee their top-flight survival.

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Everton is dependent on Pickford

Ten games have passed since Sean Dyche took over as manager at Goodison Park in lieu of Frank Lampard.

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Everton should survive if they maintain that average over the final eight games, but it would condemn their fans to a repeat of the tense end to the season from a year ago. That period has produced 12 points.

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Obviously, their final four matches against teams still in the fight for survival will be crucial, and everything might still depend on their performance against Bournemouth in their final home game of the year.

Goalkeeper Pickford will need to maintain his fitness in order to even reach that far.

He was the only player who prevented Everton from taking a beating in the first half of this game that could have had a significant negative impact on their goal differential.

Pickford was unaware of one save he made with his trailing leg to stop teammate Rashford for England. Yet aside from it, the hosts were thwarted thanks to a combination of careful posture, agility, and vigilance.

Any criticism of his inability to stop United’s opening goal was excessively fussy. The home team moved the ball across the field with ease from their left, and when the Everton defense failed to clear the ball as it bounced around Rashford on the edge of the area, they found themselves in trouble. Jadon Sancho fed a beautiful pass to McTominay, who finished from close range on the first attempt.

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Pickford was helpless to stop United’s second goal either as Rashford crossed to an unmarked Martial. Within 10 minutes of his entrance, Martial had already scored more Premier League goals in this game than Wout Weghorst had in his entire loan stint at United, underscoring the importance of the Frenchman’s availability to Ten Hag.

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