Man United beat Everton to maintain top-four push

Scott McTominay and Anthony Martial gave United victory.

In Summary

• Jordan Pickford made a string of fine saves.

• Everton reliant on Pickford.

Scott McTominay celebrates scoring against Everton at Old Trafford
Scott McTominay celebrates scoring against Everton at Old Trafford
Image: /BBC

Manchester United strengthened their grip on a top-four place and kept Everton deep in relegation trouble with a one-sided victory at Old Trafford.

Scott McTominay's well-taken first-half effort and Anthony Martial's first Premier League goal since December were enough to give United victory.

However, it should have been more for Erik Ten Hag's men, with Jordan Pickford making a string of fine saves and Aaron Wan-Bissaka somehow failing to finish into an empty net after Antony's shot had bounced straight back to him off a post.

There was also a late concern for the hosts when Marcus Rashford was forced to leave the field and was pictured walking very gingerly up the tunnel to the home dressing room.

That is not what Ten Hag needs before Thursday's Europa League quarter-final with Sevilla, although Martial's return, along with that of Christian Eriksen, who made his return as a substitute after two-and-a-half months out with an ankle injury, were welcome as Brazilian midfielder Casemiro completes his four-match domestic suspension.

As for Everton, they are in the unsatisfactory position of having to see how others do before knowing what the full damage caused by this defeat will be but knowing - again - there is no easy way to secure their top-flight survival.

Everton reliant on Pickford

It has been 10 games now since Sean Dyche replaced Frank Lampard in the Goodison Park hot seat.

That period has yielded 12 points and should Everton continue with that average over the final eight games, they should survive - although it would condemn their supporters to a repeat of the nervy end to the season from 12 months ago.

Evidently, their four remaining games against fellow sides in the relegation scrap will be key and all could yet hinge on the final game of the season at home to Bournemouth.

But to even get that far, goalkeeper Pickford will have to stay fit.

In the first half of this contest, he alone stood between Everton and a hammering that could have been very damaging to their goal difference.

There was one save with his trailing leg to deny England colleague Rashford which Pickford knew nothing about. But apart from that, it was a combination of good positioning, agility and alertness that denied the hosts.

Any criticism of his failure to keep out United's opener was picky in the extreme. The home side smoothly moved the ball across the field from their left and once the Everton defence failed to clear as the ball bobbled around Rashford on the edge of the area, they were on the back foot as Jadon Sancho fed a superb pass to McTominay, who finished first time from close range.

And there was little Pickford could do to prevent United's second either as Rashford squared to an unmarked Martial, who, within 10 minutes of his introduction, had scored more Premier League goals in this game than Wout Weghorst has managed in his entire loan spell at United, emphasising why Ten Hag is so keen to have the Frenchman fit.