Manchester United Defeat Everton Aided By Record-Breaking First Half

Manchester United turned a record-breaking first-half against Everton into a comfortable three points in the quest to finish in the Premier League’s top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.

A sixth place finish in 2022 meant United missed out on Europe’s premier continental competition this season, but Erik ten Hag’s side, along with Newcastle, are best placed to join Arsenal and Manchester City in the coveted top four this time around.

United’s 21 shots in the first half was the most for the club in an opening period since Opta began collecting this data in 2003.

The home team created more big chances within half an hour than you would see in many full games, but it took a Scott McTominay effort on 36 minutes, which was far from the easiest of the chances, to open the scoring.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was arguably the man of the match in defeat, such were the frequency of United’s shots on goal in that opening period.

Ellis Simms, 22, came into the Everton side in place of the suspended Abdoulaye Doucoure, and had visitors’ best chance when put through by Seamus Coleman, but dragged a tame shot wide.

United was getting plenty of joy playing long balls over the Everton defence. Ben Godfrey was deemed the weak link, withdrawn at half time by his manager Sean Dyche and replaced by Vitalii Mykolenko, but Michael Keane and Coleman had also struggled on occasion, suggesting it was also a tactical issue.

Everton looked much more solid in the second half, still pressing but less susceptible to the odd man rush as United broke.

The second goal was the result of an individual error by Coleman, losing the ball in the presence of Marcus Rashford who squared to substitute Anthony Martial to seal the win for the home side.

One of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for the returning Christian Eriksen who had been out with an ankle injury since January.

Ten Hag is enjoying an impressive first season as United boss. Having already lifted the League Cup in February, they remain in the FA Cup and the UEFA’s secondary competition the Europa League.

But it is the Champions League places that are all-important for a team like United, especially with the club’s current owners, the Glazer family, reportedly looking to sell. A prospective place among Europe’s elite will only be a positive for the club’s value, and help maintain its reputation among the best clubs in the world.

Protests against the club’s current owners are ongoing, and reflect similar discontent at today’s opponent Everton, whose fans have also been voicing their concerns at how their own club is run.

Both clubs remain supportive of their team and the club’s players and staff despite the protests against those at ownership and board level, but it is United’s who leave the happier of the two sets of fans today.

The one worry from today from a United point of view might be the departure of Rashford later in the second half with what looked like a groin ijnury. It remains to be seen how long it will keep him out for.

The win moves United six points clear of Tottenham in 5th, and well-placed to secure a berth in the top four.

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