Man Utd 3-1 Everton

Blues gallant effort falls short in Cup exit.

Everton exited the FA Cup on Friday night despite a gallant effort by the side that lost the influential Alex Iwobi to a second half injury having got back into the game after falling behind early doors. Early goals by the home side at the start of each half proved ultimately crucial as the Blues couldn’t find a second way back – thanks to VAR – and a last minute penalty sealed their fate.

Over nine thousand hardy and ultra-loyal Evertonians made Old Trafford their next port of road travel call as the FA Cup third round pitched the Blues away to Manchester United on Friday evening.

Following the World Cup, the Manchester club have been in good form with four wins from four games, nine goals scored and four clean sheets posted… in a marked contrast to the form of Everton with just two goals, one draw and two home defeats from three games played.

Sitting fourth in the Premier League table and still in the Carabao Cup, United manager Erik Ten Hag was asked in his pre-match press briefing if he expected his side to be where they are at this stage of the season, and he commented, “I don’t know but let’s say this, I think we are in a good position. We are there where we want to be but, still we go from game to game. We play in many competitions so we focus from game to game and don’t think too far ahead.”

Pressed on whether he thinks his side can mount a title challenge he noted, “As I said, we have to go from game to game and still think about and work on that progress, the process. It’s all about that. As a team, first state, and then also as an individual because when the team is performing, also individuals are getting better.”

Looking at the FA Cup tie with the Blues and the Dutchman expects to have Anthony Martial fit and ready to play possibly in a dual striker role with Marcus Rashford. Martial has been a nightmare for Everton, the Frenchman having scored more times against the Blues than any other opposition – seven goals in fourteen games.

Hoping to make the most of home field advantage, Ten Haag named his starting line-up: De Gea, Dalot, Varane, Shaw, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony, Fernandes (c), Rashford and Martial.

For Frank Lampard, the FA Cup might provide some welcome relief from the trials and tribulations of the Premier League campaign as pressure inevitably builds on his position as Everton manager. Addressing the media on Thursday he commented, “We want to go out and perform well, show performance with a real work-ethic and passion. I have always said that ignites fans in the right way. That’s our responsibility.” He continued, “To play for Everton, you can enjoy things like 5,000 people coming before games, something that helped us get victories last year. Sometimes you have to show big courage because they [Evertonians] are a passionate fanbase, and I have got no problem with that. At certain times this season we have done that.”

He’s said it many times before and again re-iterated, “Do we need the fans sometimes when we are below par? Yes, we do. But at this moment it’s on us to bring them with us, to stand up and play for Everton. I want to be a success at this club. Whatever challenges come, I’ll take them head on. It’s an honour for me to work for a great club.”

With right back Nathan Patterson sidelined with injury from the loss to Brighton, Lampard had a choice to make as to who would replace the young Scot, with club captain Seamus Coleman the clear favourite to get the gig.

On his squad availability Lampard added, “Nathan’s out for six weeks, unfortunately. It’s a medial ligament injury. It’s a blow for us. He’s a young full-back who’s come in, broke through and done really well for us. Now it’s time for others to take that mantle and he’ll be back in six weeks – it seems a long time now but he’ll be back.” He expanded further noting, “We’ve had illness with Anthony Gordon and Yerry Mina. Yerry is over it, Anthony is on the back end of it so we’ll have to consider that. Dominic is pretty fatigued after the Brighton game, so we have to consider that as well going into the game so we’ll see whether he’s fit to start. Other than that I believe we are where we were [before Brighton].”

Needing a performance and a result to dismiss the circling vultures, Lampard named his starting eleven in a 5-3-2 formation thus: Pickford, Coleman (c), Godfrey, Coady, Tarkowski, Mykolenko, Iwobi, Gana Gueye, Onana, Gray, and Maupay.

Our referee at a packed Old Trafford was Darren England.

An early charge forward by Rashford saw Amadou Onana track back and put in a well-timed tackle to halt the England forward but, it only took a little over three minutes for the home side to open their account as Antony arrived at the back post to put the finishing touch on a cross from Rashford.

And it was very nearly two-nil inside six minutes as a lazy clearance by Pickford was picked off by Eriksen to find Rashford who pulled his shot from the edge of the penalty area wide of the target. Even as early as ten minutes, United looked quite willing to allow Everton possession, probably confident that the Blues were offensively weak and they had plenty of counter attacking options to employ.

A decent move started by Iwobi finding Mykolenko ended with an exchange of passes and Gray firing in a shot that came back off the post and out for a corner of the back of De Gea. Incredibly, Everton drew level as United failed to adequately clear the corner and De Gea made an almighty faux-pas (French for balls-up) as Onana found Maupay and his cross went through the legs of the Spanish keeper and Conor Coady was on hand with a rapier-like finish to tap in the equaliser on 14 minutes – Woo Hoo!!

Pickford rushing from his line denied Martial with an excellent save as he was played in by Rashford and Ben Godfrey backed off, and the Blues dealt well with the resulting corner to win a free kick. Twenty minutes played and despite their woes and facing a team very much in form, Everton were rewarding the 9,400 Blues in attendance with a show of determination.

Onana went down after colliding with Casemiro and needed some treatment before resuming and Rashford went down briefly after a ball-winning tackle by Godfrey as the Blues employed a resolute approach to the game reminiscent of Joe Royle’s Dogs of War side… that went on to beat Untied in the 1995 Cup Final – our last trophy if we needed to be reminded.

Rashford and Godfrey clashed and tempers frayed a little before both were spoken to by the referee and things calmed down. Fernandes was booked on 28 minutes for standing on the ankle of Onana, as Everton continued to frustrate the home side, much to the delight of the travelling and vocal Blues. Eriksen laid a ball into the path of Anthony, his shot being blocked before Onana broke out of defence to release Gray on the left but, the move broke down as Untied countered and Pickford was happy to push a long range shot from Rashford to safety.

Another decent move by the Blues broke down on the edge of the United area but, their counter attack fizzled out weakly as the Blues funnelled back in numbers to deny them space. The home side were having the better of the possession stats but, Everton were defending well and looking to break when they could and giving their hosts something to think about. Some one touch passing by the Blues at the wrong end of the field broke down and Eriksen curled a shot just too high and the next break by the Blues ended disappointingly as Gray failed to find a team mate and the move broke down.

Inside the final five minutes of the half and Rashford found by Eriksen twisted one way then the other before his shot was blocked and cleared by Tarkowski and Maupay looking to breakaway was fouled by Casemiro. Two added minutes were announced with the home side winning a right wing corner that Shaw took and Tarkowski again got the clearing header, Ben Godfrey then heading the second cross away to safety. And at the whistle to end the half, it was Frank Lampard the manager with the most to be pleased about as his side had responded well to the early setback.

Half Time: 1-1

No changes by either manager for the second half that saw Everton attacking the old Scoreboard End where the massed ranks of travelling Blues were ensconced. United went straight on the attack but, a good interception by Alex Iwobi gave him the chance to race away with Malacia getting back and catching the Nigerians right ankle. With less than three minutes of the half played, Alex Iwobi was clearly in some pain and a stretcher was called for. Abdoulaye Doucoure prepared to come on as Iwobi was carried from the field, a huge blow to both him personally and the team as the last thing Everton and Frank Lampard needed was to lose a player who’s been so influential this season.

And when things go against you, they tend to get worse and when Shaw spread the ball wide left for Rashford, his low cross into the area was sadly turned past Pickford by Conor Coady. Once again, the Blues had fallen behind early and they had to recover as they had in the first half.

Eriksen spread another ball wide left for Rashford as the home side seemed clearly intent of pressuring the right side of the Blues defence, Doucoure and Gray combining to win the ball and a throw-in. The home fans boringly and tediously unimaginatively resorted to chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ aimed at Frank Lampard as their side looked to push forward in search of a third goal.

Passing the hour mark, and Ben Godfrey was yellow carded for a foul on Rashford. Everton were being pinned back in their own half and after Coady blocked a Rashford shot, Shaw fouled Maupay to give the Blues a moment of respite. Breaking out of defence, Doucoure carried the ball forward into the United area with Coleman on the overlap, De Gea clearing with his feet only as far as Mykolenko whose effort was blocked and cleared but, better from the Blues as they tried to find their way back into the game. Dominic Calvert-Lewin began to get ready to come on as a second half substitute while Jordan Pickford was alert to tip a shot from Fernandes over the bar following a free kick taken by Eriksen. Doucoure was next to see a yellow card as Rashford went down, Eriksen sending the free kick straight into the waiting hands of Pickford.

On 68 minutes, Calvert-Lewin replaced Neal Maupay who, to his credit, had battled hard to little effect. United responded a minute later by removing Casemiro and Martial in favour of Fred and Garnacho respectively.

On 73 minutes, incredibly the Blues were level again as Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked a ball around the corner in midfield to find Coleman in space on the right to find Gray who gained the area and cross low for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to turn the ball home… before VAR intervened and ruled Gray to have been offside, and the goal was scratched off.

Malacia was late on Coady with studs up and escaped a yellow card – home bias or what? Everton were not lying down and if anything upped their work rate as we passed the 75 minute mark and Gana Gueye fired a long range effort over the target. The travelling Blues fans were still in good voice encouraging the players to a strong finale.

On 80 minutes, Anthony Gordon replaced Seamus Coleman and Dwight McNeil came on for Vitalii Mykolenko as Frank Lampard went all out for a replay forcing equaliser. Eriksen and Anthony were replaced by McTominay and Maguire for the final eight minutes plus added-on time, Ten Hag clearly feeling he needed to bolster his rearguard for the closing minutes that would surely see Everton throw the proverbial kitchen sink at his side.

Rashford won a corner off Coady that was cleared only for Onana to be the third Everton player yellow carded for a foul on Martinez to give United a free kick 25 yards out that Rashford bent over the wall with Pickford pushing it over the bar for another corner, that was defended successfully.

Six added minutes were announced as the Blues worked the ball forward and De Gea saved low down to his left from Gray. McNeil won a corner on the left that Gray took to find Godfrey at the back post and his chipped cross back into the danger area came to nothing.

Godfrey with a fine sliding tackle denied Rashford at the expense of a corner, that was resulted in Fernandes screwing a shot well wide of the target. Almost inevitably, United were awarded a last minute penalty as Garnacho went down rather softly under a challenge from Godfrey, Rashford slotting the spot kick after a stuttering run-up, sending JP the wrong way..

Full Time: 3-1

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