Manchester United missed the chance to top the Premier League and needed a late VAR call in their favor to avoid another home defeat as Everton emerged from Old Trafford in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Yerry Mina’s late winner for the Toffees was ruled out by an offside review after Andros Townsend canceled Anthony Martial’s opening game for United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s decision to give Cristiano Ronaldo a break from the start will be questioned as the Red Devils have now won just two of their last six games in all competitions.
One point is enough to level both sides with league-leader Liverpool, who face champions Manchester City on Sunday.
Ronaldo’s exploits well into stoppage time against Villarreal on Wednesday saved United from a mountain to climb to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.
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But Solskjaer didn’t risk the 36-year-old with a third start in a week as he took his place on a star-studded bench alongside Jadon Sancho and Paul Pogba between five changes.
Martial’s involvement was the surprise with Jesse Lingard and Donny van de Beek also remaining on the sidelines.
The Frenchman struggled to impress in his few previous appearances this season and missed a glorious early opportunity when he mistimed his jump for a free header off the back post.
Everton doesn’t have the same depth in attacking areas that Rafael Benitez had to deal with again without his two main sources of goals, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, due to injury.
The visitors created plenty of opportunities when Michael Keane missed a Townsend free kick just wide, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s attempt was blocked by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Demarai Gray tested David de Gea in the first half.
Everton’s good work before halftime, however, was undone at 43 minutes thanks to a moment of inspiration from Bruno Fernandes as he perfectly propelled Martial to blast past Jordan Pickford thanks to a slight deflection.
Solskjaer then called out Ronaldo and Sancho 10 minutes into the second half as he looked forward to taking the game past Benitez’s men.
But it was Everton who then struck to expose United’s weakness in the counter-attack.
Gray won the ball back on the left, freeing Doucoure in acres of space in midfield, the latter playing at Townsend to score his fifth goal in nine appearances for the club.
Solskjaer responded by adding another creative threat in Pogba for Fred. England manager Gareth Southgate admitted on Thursday that Sancho’s performances since his £73million transfer from Borussia Dortmund were not worth keeping his place in the national team.
But Sancho was the most dangerous of United’s star replacements, as he constantly demanded the ball in search of a winner.
Ronaldo’s only chance to be the hero again came from Sancho’s reverse pass as the Portuguese shot over the goal.
Pogba then curled wide from another promising Sancho break to destabilize Everton’s defence.
Yet United would have succumbed to a second home league defeat eight days after Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Old Trafford last weekend.
Mina tapped on from a Tom Davies cross, but the Colombian had wandered just offside to United’s relief.