Manchester United’s final tuning match before their Premier League opener next week was a complete success. The Reds were able to score four goals against Everton as they controlled the majority of the game.
Goals from Mason Greenwood and Harry Maguire gave United an early two-goal lead, before a stunning free-kick from Bruno Fernandes gave the hosts a three goal lead going into the break, where they then continued to show a good performance in the second half and Diogo Dalot managed to find the back of the net in the last moment of the match after an impressive cameo from the bench.
It was perhaps the best possible way to end pre-season and will give The Reds confidence ahead of their opener against Leeds United in seven days.
Story of the game
United started the game sharply. After just three minutes Harry Maguire found Luke Shaw with a nice pass to the left-flank. The left-back crossed the ball towards Anthony Martial, however the ball was cleared well. The early exchange between our two defenders was something that has been missed by every Manchester United supporter.
While we looked sharp, Everton certainly didn’t and just four minutes later, some miscommunication between Lucas Digne and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford gifted Mason Greenwood an open goal and he was never going to miss.
After Alex Iwobi headed back towards his own goal it wasn’t quite making it back to his goalkeeper so the Everton left-back tried to help it on. However, Pickford had already started coming out and couldn’t react to the situation quickly enough and the pressure that Greenwood placed on the opposition backline was rewarded with one of the easiest chances he’s going to have all season.
United continued to make things tick with some impressive one and two touch passing, with the midfield three of Nemanja Matic, Donny van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes impressing in the early stages. Fernandes decided to test the goalkeeper after 10 minutes with a longshot from the left hand side. It caused Pickford trouble as he spilled the ball, but Martial couldn’t react quickly enough to punish the goalkeeper.
United’s lead was doubled four minutes later when Shaw and Maguire combined yet again. This time the left-back put in a teasing cross from the corner spot, and Maguire timed his header brilliantly and got great pace and direction to guide the ball into the top right corner. One of the few criticisms of the United captain is that he doesn’t score enough headers considering his aerial threat – hopefully we see more of this in the upcoming campaign.
The Reds continued to strut their stuff and give the 55,000 fans at Old Trafford a great display. There was a de ja vu moment after 18 minutes where our Magnifico almost recreated his wonder goal against Everton the last time the two teams faced, however, his shot went just slightly over the crossbar.
However, Bruno wasn’t going to let the spotlight leave him after the first 18 months of his United career. After Maguire found a beautiful pass to Daniel James on the left, the ball ended up with Matic, who won a free-kick around 25-yards out for United.
It was almost no surprise when Bruno Fernandes stepped up and found the top left hand corner from the spot-kick, sending the United fans into avid celebrations. It was a classic Bruno moment and it gave United their third of the afternoon.Embed from Getty Images
It was clear for the rest of the half who looked more prepared for the Premier League and United rolled into the break with a three goal lead, as well as a brilliant display.
Just after half-time, United’s no.18 looked to double his lead after he was gifted an opportunity when Digne gave him the ball but his driven shot from the right side went just past the left-hand post.
Everton began to stamp some kind of authority on the match as United started to make changes and rotate the side. The Blues had two chances in quick succession, both landing at Andros Townsend’s feet. Firstly, on 52 minutes, the winger won the ball on the edge of United’s area but shot straight at David de Gea, then five minutes later he was on the end of a beautiful low cross from Digne but his stinging shot smashed against the crossbar.
It was not too long until United took control yet again and Juan Mata was quick to show some magic after he came on from the bench. He skipped past a man in the midfield and played a perfect ball over the top of the Everton defence towards Greenwood, but the 19-year-old wasn’t able to get a proper shot away after he drove into the box.
Five minutes from time, Fred found Diogo Dalot with a great cross-field pass and the right-back done well to get past his marker and find Greenwood on the edge of the box. The teenager’s shot was blocked well but it was brilliant work from the Portuguese defender off the bench.
The right-back topped off his cameo with a goal in the last minute of the game. Fred crossed from the left side after a corner moments before, Dalot flicked the ball over the top of Asmir Begović and the ball looped into the back of the net.
The midfield three looks well-tuned
It was a phenomenal first-half display from The Reds with some beautiful football in the middle of the park. The initial midfield trio of Matic, Van de Beek and Bruno was dismantled at half-time due to rotation, with Paul Pogba and Fred taking to the field.
However, it seemed that the hybrid 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 that was implemented with the first-half midfield was very impressive and worked very well. It very well could be the midfield that we see in the opening fixture of the season next weekend.
While the former-Ajax midfielder is more accustomed to a role higher up the pitch, the solidity of his Serbian teammate behind him might allow him to occupy more of a box-to-box role in the side. Speaking of Matic, he has perhaps had the best pre-season of any United player baring the youth and he will feel well prepared to start the season for The Red Devils next week.