Everton have landed a massive win in their fight for Premier League survival while further harming Manchester United’s flimsy top-four hopes with a hard-earned 1-0 victory.
Anthony Gordon’s shot from the edge of the penalty area in Saturday’s early match at Goodison deflected into the net off the outstretched leg of United defender Harry Maguire in the 27th minute.
It was another lacklustre performance by United, who brought two great saves out of Jordan Pickford – both from efforts by Marcus Rashford – early in the match but were frustrated by some obdurate and at times desperate defending by Everton in the second half.
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Whoever becomes the full-time replacement for interim manager Ralf Rangnick – Ajax’s Erik ten Hag is favourite for the job – is likely to arrive at Old Trafford with United out of the Champions League and potentially not even in any European competition.
United stayed three points behind the teams in fourth and fifth place – Tottenham and Arsenal, respectively – and the two London clubs have games in hand.
Things look much more positive, though, for Everton, who bounced back from a demoralising loss at relegation rivals Burnley on Wednesday to move four points clear of the bottom three.
It’s bolstered their hopes of avoiding relegation from the top flight for the first time since 1954.
Everton’s home form raises their chances of staying up, with Frank Lampard’s team having won five of their last seven matches at Goodison in all competitions.