Five games, five goals. Marcus Rashford has returned from the World Cup in rare form and if the man whose name was imprinted twice on this scoresheet was Conor Coady, who struck at either end, Everton were eliminated from the FA Cup by Rashford. He played a huge part in all three Manchester United’s goals and, composed as his 97th-minute penalty was as he extended his record of finding the net in every game since he came back from Qatar, his crossing proved more significant than his shooting. Two inviting low crosses that only required a touch: first Antony and then the luckless Coady obliged and United became the first side to enter the fourth-round draw.
In the process, they ensured Everton’s wait for major silverware, which dates back to their 1995 final win over United, will extend at least until 2024. Whether Frank Lampard is in charge to oversee their next FA Cup campaign, or indeed next week’s relegation six-pointer with Southampton, remains to be seen but this was the kind of spirited display to suggest he retains his players’ backing.
There was a chorus of “sacked in the morning” but it came from the Stretford End. The vocal contingent of 9,000 travelling Evertonians instead chanted: “Sack the board.” They gave no indications they hold Lampard responsible for Everton’s plight and, indeed, there was plenty to admire about a gutsy display at Old Trafford. He had celebrated a second equaliser, only for Demarai Gray to be ruled offside before Dominic Calvert-Lewin chested in his cross. There was no second draw in seven days in Manchester but, once again, Everton acquitted themselves well. The problem, augmented by the midweek meltdown against Brighton, is the bigger picture of six defeats in seven games and no wins since October.
In contrast, United have now reeled off seven successive victories. Winning is becoming a happy habit for Erik ten Hag and even the sort of howler David de Gea seemed to have consigned to the past did not prove costly. Rashford’s revival is a reason for their renaissance. Besides an assist – the fact United’s second strike was an own goal denied him another - his evening also included a defence-splitting pass when Anthony Martial was denied by Jordan Pickford, a rasping shot that the goalkeeper parried and a free kick his England teammate tipped over.
Rashford eventually won their duel when Ben Godfrey nudged the substitute Alejandro Garnacho over and the Mancunian casually converted the spot kick. Everton had two players booked for fouling Rashford but they did not succeed in stopping him. He was too quick, too relentless, too confident to contain.
He is scarcely the type of winger who is invariably described as a crosser but set up both goals with low centres early in each half. First he accelerated past Godfrey and Antony slid in to apply the finishing touch. It was the Brazilian’s first goal since United’s previous encounter with Everton, three months earlier.
Then Rashford twisted and turned past Seamus Coleman, looked to find Martial and Coady instead turned the ball into his own net.
If it took until injury time for a second United player to find the net, they certainly created enough chances before then. Christian Eriksen curled a shot just over and the excellent Pickford repelled a long-range strike from Bruno Fernandes.
This was more eventful than Everton’s draw at Manchester City, though Lampard had seemed to seek the same formula by reverting to a back five and recalling Godfrey. If a blueprint of safety in numbers in their own box appeared redundant when his side conceded inside three minutes, Everton then defended with great determination, with James Tarkowski making his usual host of blocks, and got a defender turned scorer, albeit with the aid of United’s goalkeeper.
There was a freakish element to the leveller, Neal Maupay’s low shot from an acute angle going through De Gea’s legs and leaving Coady with a tap-in. The Spaniard tends to stop more shots with his legs than most keepers but acted as if unaware he could use his hands. But De Gea’s footwork was altogether better when he saved Coleman’s shot in the second half and if Everton’s veteran captain had some awkward moments against Rashford, he led the charge in their bid to draw level for a second time. It was the rampaging Coleman who fed Gray before the substitute Calvert-Lewin put the ball in. With Gray excellent, Everton contributed to a rousing tie but while Ten Hag finished with five defenders, his attacking replacement, Garnacho, helped seal victory.
Everton’s losses extended beyond the result. Alex Iwobi was stretchered off after a challenge from Tyrell Malacia, the midfielder’s foot catching in the turf after he had charged 40 yards on a typically wholehearted burst. Iwobi had been an emblematic player for Lampard’s Everton. With the immediate impression being that he could be out for quite some time. He may have played his last game for Lampard.