Everton secured what could prove a priceless victory in their battle to avoid relegation as lacklustre Manchester United were beaten at Goodison Park.
Frank Lampard’s side was plunged into an even deeper crisis when they lost at fellow strugglers Burnley in midweek to leave them facing the prospect of dropping into the bottom three this weekend if results went against them.
In a game low on quality but high in tension, Everton’s victory came courtesy of Anthony Gordon’s 27th-minute drive, which took a heavy deflection off United captain Harry Maguire to leave keeper David de Gea wrong-footed.
Everton keeper Jordan Pickford made two important early saves from Marcus Rashford and a vital late block from Cristiano Ronaldo, but there was rarely any sense of siege as United lacked urgency, failing to break through in another blow to their hopes of making the Premier League’s top four.
This could be a huge result in Everton’s season, stopping the rot and lifting some of those dark clouds that were starting to gather over Goodison.
Everton’s win was as far from a classic as it is possible to be but in the wider context, it could mean more than so many others this season.
Frank Lampard’s side remains in trouble but the psychological lift provided by this victory, which removes the prospect of dropping into the bottom three for now at least, saw an explosion of joy around this famous old stadium when referee Jon Moss blew the final whistle.
Everton dug deep for victory and had several figures who personified exactly what they will need if they are to maintain their Premier League status.
It was fitting that Gordon was the match-winner, the local hero loved by Everton fans for his tireless energy and invention. The supporters warm to him because of his attitude and his deflected strike was a fitting reward.
Richarlison is another who has been exempt from criticism, apart from the fact he might have scored more goals. The Brazil striker’s work rate is exceptional, chasing down every lost cause and he brought Goodison Park to its feet in the second half when he juggled the ball on his head on the touchline before winning a corner. He reacted by pumping his fists at the Gwladys Street End to raise the temperature inside an already frantic stadium.
And, once more, goalkeeper Pickford made a vital contribution, denying Rashford twice early on as well as Paul Pogba and Ronaldo after the break.
The deafening noise at the final whistle told the story, as Lampard joined in celebrations with the fans at the conclusion of a win that cannot be over-valued.
Source – BBC Sport