Scott McTominay scored his first Premier League goal of the season as Manchester United stayed on course for a top-four finish by beating Everton 2-0.
United dominated the first half at Old Trafford on Saturday, with the outstanding Jordan Pickford making a string of saves before McTominay found the back of the net.
Relegation-threatened Everton made more of a game of it in the second half, but Anthony Martial came off the bench to double United’s lead as the visitors were consigned to a first defeat in five matches.
Victory for Erik ten Hag’s side moved them above Newcastle United into third place ahead of the Magpies’ trip to Brentford later in the day, but a late groin injury sustained by Marcus Rashford will be a cause for concern.
United started strongly and Rashford shot straight at Pickford after racing clear of a static Everton defence.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka inexplicably failed to hit the target with the goal gaping when the ball rebounded to him after Antony struck the post, before Ellis Simms missed a great chance to put Everton in front against the run of play, scuffing his shot wide.
Pickford thwarted Antony, who was also denied by a great last-ditch tackle from Ben Godfrey as the Red Devils continued to get in behind far too easily.
The busy Pickford prevented Rashford from opening the scoring yet again, but McTominay drilled in with his right foot from just outside the six-yard box nine minutes before the break after Jadon Sancho picked him out.
Pickford palmed a measured strike from Antony around the post late in a one-sided first half that somehow ended with United only one goal up.
United had breathing space in the 71st minute, though, Martial drilling home with his right foot after Rashford pounced on a mistake from Seamus Coleman to set his fellow forward up.
Christian Eriksen returned from injury with a substitute appearance, but the sight of leading scorer Rashford limping off late on will be a worry for Ten Hag.
Manchester United player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: David De Gea – 6/10 – Comfortable but wasn’t asked to do much.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6/10 – Solid enough in defence, didn’t offer too much going forward and produced one of the misses of the season.
CB: Harry Maguire (C) – 6/10 – Did nothing wrong but again was not tested too much.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – No mistakes. Did allow Simms too much from for one of Everton’s only real chances, but he barely broke a sweat as he commanded the United back-line.
LB: Tyrell Malacia – 5/10 – Struggled at times to cope with Iwobi and Gray.
CM: Scott McTominay – 7/10 – Solid and competed well against Onana and Gueye – crucial goal to break the deadlock.
CM: Bruno Fernandes – 8/10 – Enjoyed his deeper role, saw more of the ball and drove the team forward – excellent.
RW: Antony – 6/10 – Could have had a hat-trick in the first half alone – his misses could have proved costly.
AM: Marcel Sabitzer – 7/10 – Played in an advanced role, had a couple of decent chances and worked his socks off.
LW: Jadon Sancho – 7/10 – Looked bright on the counter attack and brilliant ball for McTominay to open the scoring.
CF: Marcus Rashford – 7/10 – Bright and had numerous chances, found Pickford in good form but should have scored, although he did well to create winner for Martial.
Anthony Martial (60′ for Antony) – 6/10 – One chance and scored.
Christian Eriksen (77′ for Sancho) – N/A
Fred (77′ for Sabitzer) – N/A
Wout Weghorst (80′ for Rashford) – N/A
Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – Playing Fernandes in deeper role with Sabitzer in the CAM role worked well.
Everton player ratings (4-4-2)
GK: Jordan Pickford – 9/10 – Outstanding from Pickford as numerous saves kept Everton in the game.
RB: Seamus Coleman (C) – 3/10 – Struggled at times with the pace of Rashford and Sancho and then made a bad error for Martial’s goal.
CB: Michael Keane – 4/10 – At least one missed header in the first-half – fortunate, more than anything else, that United didn’t score more.
CB: James Tarkowski – 4/10 – Caught out by pace and movement all too often.
LB: Ben Godfrey – 3/10 – Looked OK going forward but caught out over and over again by long balls to Antony over his head. Taken off at half-time.
RM: Alex Iwobi – 5/10 – Worked hard but didn’t see enough of the ball and game generally passed him by.
CM: Idrissa Gueye – 6/10 – Sat in midfield and tried break up play when he needed to.
CM: Amadou Onana – 7/10 – Was all over the pitch, did everything he could. Like Pickford and Gray, he can’t take much responsibility for the loss.
LM: Dwight McNeil – 3/10 – Did very little, saw little of the ball and, when he did, did little with it.
CF: Demarai Gray – 7/10 – Started the game really well and never gave up – a constant menace.
CF: Ellis Simms – 4/10 – Was always going to have limited chances at Old Trafford but he had a great opportunity to score in the first half and woefully put it wide.
Vitalii Mykolenko (45′ for Godrfey) – 5/10 – Did OK and shored up the left side of Everton’s defence.
James Garner (60′ for Onana) – N/A
Tom Davies (60′ for Gueye) – N/A
Neal Maupay (70′ for Simms) – N/A
Nathan Paterson (87′ for Coleman) – N/A
Sean Dyche – 6/10 – Should have lost by more but the defence was far too open and flat-footed, but he did make right change at the break.