United recorded their first away victory back in the Premier League thanks to a superbly organised performance at Goodison Park. The Blades won for the first time at this level since winning at Wigan in December 2006 and the first victory by two clear goals in the top flight since a win at Everton in 1993!
An own goal from Yerry Mina and a Lys Mousset strike saw United take the three points back to Sheffield. In truth it was the poorest United have played and certainly with the ball, they were careless or lacking in control. We created barely a chance but were clinical when we did and defended superbly with an organised and resolute display.
United made changes with David McGoldrick ruled out with a groin strain and Callum Robinson coming back in. There was no Billy Sharp (suspension) or Mo Besic (ineligible) in the squad but Phil Jagielka was on the bench against the club he used to skipper. Kieron Freeman also was named as a substitute for the first time this season.
Everton began with former Blade Dominic Calvert Lewin but had a side packed full of quality, experience and internationals both in the starting line up and in reserve.
United fans were in good voice as the Blades kicked towards the Gwladys Street End. Everton began well though knocking the ball about well and forced an early corner. Richarlison and Sigurdsson were getting into little pockets and looking to make things happen but United kept a good shape. The home side won a free kick and then a corner before Basham and Kean tussled and much to the anger of the home side the free kick went United’s way. United had struggled to see much off the ball and the front two were starved of possession. Most of the game was being played in United’s half and Norwood tripped Delph by illegal means, leading to a booking after the game was eventually stopped.
Everton had a few efforts well off target with Richarlison shooting over and then Bernard had a shot go wide. The first effort on target came when Digne had a shot that Henderson pushed away
A few moments later Baldock let the ball go out and took objection to Richarlison barging into him and tempers became brayed with the United man responding and Bernard getting into his grill and a number of players surrounding the scene. Baldock and Bernard were booked and Henderson also got a yellow card. Quite how Kean escaped as he had shoved the United keeper and Egan is anybody’s guess.
Everton continued to dominate and United were doing well to restrict them to any clear-cut chances but were not getting out at all with a rare O’Connell raid ended when he overhit the cross. Everton came again and Richarlison tried an acrobatic volley that went over before Kean blazed over the bar. United managed to win a corner after a brief and rare bit of possession.
From the Norwood delivery United took the lead against the run of play. The ball was swung over into the near post and in a sea of bodies Pickford missed it and it went in off MINA’S (OG) head as he stopped near the line. It seemed a while before people had realised it had gone in and then even after this, we had a signal for VAR from the referee. The fans in the ground had no idea what was going on with nothing shown on the big screen to indicate a review after the referee had made the clear signal. Finally, the referee pointed to the centre circle and United were ahead and had scored in the first half of a game; something they had not done so far before today.
Everton could not really mount any meaningful attacks before the break and United went in with an unlikely lead.
After the break, the Blades seemed to be making a conscious effort to play higher up the field and Fleck and Lundstram got more involved. McBurnie also was holding the ball up better. O’Connell advanced and won a corner that Everton cleared. The home side came back and Bernard linked with Kean but Egan stepped in. The same man cleared a header when under pressure moments later as United’s defence continued to hold firm.
Everton did create a chance when the ball somehow found its way through and Kean was in on the angle but Henderson smothered from point blank range. This was probably Everton’s best chance of the game and the only real time Henderson had been troubled despite a number of attempts on goal.
Schneiderlin and Bernard were given the hook from Marco Silva as he brought on two forwards in Iwobi, Tosun and were now really going for it with four strikers on the field.
The game was more even this half and United were keeping the ball better and were winning more of the loose stuff. Mousset came on for Robinson to give United another outlet and then Jagielka came on for Norwood with Basham switching into the centre of midfield. All four sides of Goodison gave Jags a he ovation as he entered the field. Egan and then O’Connell made timely interceptions but Everton were not really penetrating the United backline. More good work from Lundstram saw him hold off a challenge and advance but Stevens could not make hay down the left-hand side.
Walcott came on for Coleman and Everton now had effectively five attackers/wingers on the pitch! United continued to take the sting out of things with Henderson claiming a through ball and then Baldock and Lundstram tidying up.
Egan made another superb tackle as United kept a really solid shape but then Fleck got around the back and stood up a cross which Basham headed wide in a rare chance for United. Mousset’s pace and touch was already causing problems for Keane who got turned twice in quick succession.
With the clock on 78 minutes United got the vital second goal. Lundstram strode away and clipped a beautiful ball down the inside right channel which saw MOUSSET run beyond the defence. The striker coolly skipped the ball under Pickford’s legs and into the net. He sprinted towards the delirious United fans and was joined by his teammates.
Osborn came on for McBurnie as United sought to slow things down further but Everton were now making mistakes all over the field and often overplayed final balls. Some home fans had seen enough and were starting to leave. Egan got his foot in again to clear and then Walcott ran the ball out. United were now sensing victory was theirs as the game went into four minutes of stoppage time. Everton won a free kick in a dangerous position but the free kick was wasted. The final moments saw United see things out in relative comfort before the final whistle saw the players and management head to the away fans to celebrate with them.
Words by Deadbat