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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Manchester United 3-1 Everton: Rashford and friends kick off FA Cup with a win over Everton

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Manchester United started their FA Cup campaign as they will hope to go on, with a win. They defeated Everton 3-1 at Old Trafford with a little help from the out of form Blues, but the goals all count the same.

It was a fast start for United, scoring in just the third minute. A run by Rashford down the left led to a nice ball across goal for Antony to tap in at the back post. It set the tone for the half, as United would continue finding fast break opportunities, but the lead didn’t last long.

Everton had a brief spell where they looked like responding, and found an equalizer despite not really showing much attacking quality. A Demarai Gray shot was blocked wide for a corner, and the ensuing play presented Neal Maupay with some space on the right. The Blues forward dribbled to the byline and played a cutback pass back across goal for Connor Coady. The pass was poor, right at David De Gea’s legs, but the Spaniard let it slip through for the centre back to tap in easily.

The howler is poorly timed for De Gea, who’s contract runs up at the end of June, and is another example of recurring problems with his game.

United quickly got back in control of the game, with Rashford and Martial combining well on the left to create chances. The Frenchman had a good opportunity blocked by Pickford, and Christian Eriksen had a good look at goal as well, but they couldn’t take the lead again before the halftime interval.

The Reds kept up the pressure after the break, and were rewarded with Coady’s second of the game. This time he turned it into his own net after Rashford dribbled past Seamus Coleman and played a powerful ball across goal. There were no United teammates running onto the end of it, but Coady was poorly positioned and his touch sent it past Pickford to put the home side back in front.

From then United looked to kill the game, but were unable to create similarly dangerous chances. Shots from distance by Bruno Fernandes and Antony gave Pickford no trouble, and they weren’t as effective finding quick breaks in behind the lines.

Everton thought they’d found an equalizer with a quarter of an hour to play, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin scoring with his first touch after coming on. VAR quickly intervened however, showing Demarai Gray was offside in the build up to the goal.

Substitutions made Everton more attacking and United more defensive, but the Reds still found an opportunity to add a third goal in the final minutes. A free kick for Rashford dipped just too close to Pickford, and the England no. 1 tipped it over the bar. A couple minutes into stoppage time he had a chance on the break, but was chased down just in time by Ben Godfrey.

With the game seemingly settled by the end of stoppage time, Alejandro Garnacho got a chance to stretch his legs with a run at goal. He was brought down by Godfrey as he was setting to shoot, and was awarded a penalty. United’s no. 10 was given the ball, and converted calmly with the Stretford End singing “Rashford is Red” for him.

Game, set, match, onto the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.

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