Cristiano Ronaldo proves himself in Man United’s much-needed win over Everton

After a thorough dismantling at the hands of Manchester City in their last Premier League outing, Manchester United bounced back on Sunday at Goodison Park against Everton, earning a 2-1 win.

Everton’s Alex Iwobi and United’s Antony exchanged goals inside the first 15 minutes, until an injury to Anthony Martial changed the course of the game.

Martial came off in the 29th minute and on came Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the eventual game winner in the 44th minute.

ESPN’s Rob Dawson has reaction and analysis from Goodison Park.

Rapid reaction

Ronaldo hits No. 700 to boost United
It’s a sign of Cristiano Ronaldo’s status now that at Goodison Park he made a fifth consecutive appearance as a substitute in a league game for the first time since he was a teenager at Sporting Lisbon.

But at 37 years old, he still has a deadly ability in front of goal and showed it when he raced onto Casemiro’s pass to shoot low underneath Jordan Pickford.

It was Ronaldo’s 700th goal of his club career, and it was the latest evidence that there are likely to be a few more yet. It was only Ronaldo’s second goal of the season as he battles to win a regular place in Erik ten Hag’s team, but it was a crucial one, helping Manchester United to a vital win in a game that felt it could have been another banana skin after the derby mauling to Manchester City and the awkward trip to Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League.

There is a gap starting to open up between the top three of Man City, Arsenal and Tottenham and everyone else, and it was important United bounced back from the result at the Etihad Stadium and kept up the pace in the race for the top four.

More Martial injury woes
There was no surprise that Anthony Martial was handed his first start of the season after scoring three times off the bench against Manchester City and Omonia Nicosia last week — but it didn’t go the way he would have wanted.

Martial set up United’s first goal with an inch-perfect pass for Antony, but his evening was over inside the first 30 minutes when he hobbled off with another injury.

It’s been a frustrating season for Martial, who looked sharp in preseason before picking up a hamstring problem prior to the campaign kicking off and then got an Achilles injury after making his return as a substitute against Liverpool in August. That saw him miss the next five games, and he can only hope the latest setback isn’t serious.

Martial’s injury problems will also have a knock-on effect for Ronaldo, and not just because he replaced the French player against Everton. Ten Hag can’t rely on Martial to be available, and the United boss is already reluctant to consider letting Ronaldo leave in January over fears it would leave him short of options up front during the second half of the season. The only other recognised striker in the squad is Marcus Rashford, and he’s been injured already this season as well.

Everton miss opportunity to rattle United
Man United arrived at Goodison Park after a difficult week courtesy of Manchester City and Omonia Nicosia, but Everton missed a golden opportunity to pile on more pressure.

Everton were gifted the opening goal thanks to Antony playing Casemiro into trouble and Amadou Onana robbing the Brazilian player of the ball, but they were then guilty of throwing away their advantage.

United don’t always deal well with setbacks, and when Alex Iwobi scored, Goodison was bouncing — but they were quickly let off the hook with two mistakes in midfield that allowed United to score twice before halftime and removing any anxiety Ten Hag’s players might have been feeling.

The equaliser from Antony — the first United player to score in his first three Premier League appearances — came just 10 minutes after Iwobi’s goal — but if Everton had kept their cool for a little longer, it would have become a very uncomfortable night for United at a ground where they have had some poor recent results.

Frank Lampard has quietly made his team hard to beat since it lost the first two games of the season, and he will be frustrated that they didn’t make United work harder for the points. Everton have made progress since last season’s flirt with relegation, but Lampard might feel his team missed a chance to make a statement against United.

Source: ESPN

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