Manchester United claimed a much-needed win at Everton with a second-half performance as good as they have produced in several months. Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard provided ruthless and superb finishes that led Jose Mourinho’s team to a 2-0 victory at Goodison Park, with the visitors being rewarded for their assertiveness after a frustratingly reserved first half. United, ponderous till the break, were unrecognisable afterwards.
Paul Pogba played with freedom, several of Luke Shaw’s runs were excellent, and the duo of Lingard and Martial grew in confidence throughout and were eventually decisive.
Some of United’s attacking, particularly down the right in the first half, was slow and predictable, and their defending down the same flank was uncertain against the pace of Yannick Bolasie.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Mourinho eventually got this one absolutely right as he allowed his players to play with greater creative licence. The team he has is an effective one, it just needed to be allowed to play to its full attacking potential.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 6 — Was not too often called upon. Made one poor clearance when under little pressure but was otherwise largely untroubled.
DF Victor Lindelof, 6 — Had a difficult evening against Bolasie, who exposed him for pace at times, and did not have Antonio Valencia’s drive forward down the right. Largely competent in possession, though.
DF Marcos Rojo, 6 — Struggled a little in the first half but recovered smartly and ended the game strongly. Seems to be recovering match sharpness and form.
DF Phil Jones, 6 — Like Rojo, a touch unsure of his footing early on but gained assurance as the game proceeded and saw the game out calmly enough.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 — Some very promising signs in attack, with a cluster of excellent runs in both halves. Two of his clearances were poor and put his team under unnecessary pressure but he was a decisive influence, stretching the play beautifully.
MF Nemanja Matic, 7 — His passing was not as incisive as it has been at his best, nor was his positioning, but he gradually helped United to assert control over the midfield.
MF Ander Herrera, 7 — Far more proactive in attack than he has been in weeks, forcing the play into the final third but helping his team to retain a patient tempo.
MF Paul Pogba, 8 — Offered much of his spellbinding best and was often devastating in the inside-left position. Pass selection could have been a touch better on occasion, but for the most part he ran riot.
MF Juan Mata, 7 — Found space carefully throughout, with some of his vision a delight, and unlucky not to score a magnificent effort from distance.
MF Jesse Lingard, 8 — Reminiscent in so many ways of the best qualities of Chelsea’s Pedro. Very strong in pressing high up the field, excellent on the break and with his movement in general, and the scorer of sensational goals, like his effort on Monday night.
FW Anthony Martial, 8 — Was rewarded for a first half of constant toil with a fine goal, the game’s opener, and his movement was a continual problem for Everton’s massed defence.
MF Marcus Rashford, NR (for Martial, 77) — Came on and used his quick feet to put immediate pressure on Everton, forcing them back just as they were growing in self-belief.
DF Daley Blind, NR (for Lingard, 87) — Helped to run down the clock, replacing Lingard after the forward had decided the game.
DF Axel Tuanzebe, NR (for Mata, 90+2) — Was barely able to get involved with the match at its very close.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC’s Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.