LONDON: Bruno Fernandes eased the pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær, inspiring a Manchester United fightback to beat Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park in the Premier League.
Fernandes’s first half double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for the club helped struggling United to their first Premier League win since October 17, while condemning an unimpressive and toothless Everton to a third straight loss.
After defeats to Arsenal in the league and Basaksehir in Europe in the last seven days a third reverse was unthinkable for Solskjær as question marks grow about his tenure at Old Trafford and he would have feared the worst as United’s defensive frailties were again exposed to allowed Bernard to put Everton ahead after 17 minutes.
But Fernandes, the man who spearheaded the Manchester club’s late charge into the top four last season, dragged his team up by the bootlaces again, first firing a running header passed Jordan Pickford, before his cross aimed for Marcus Rashford went directly in off the far post. Fernandes then unselfishly setup Cavani to wrap up the contest in the 95th minute from a brisk counteract.
Solskjær has guided United to a better start than last season, earning 10 points after seven games compared to nine points at the same mark 12 months ago. He now has the international break to fix his leaky defence before facing West Brom, Basaksehir and Southampton, while Everton will hope to get back on track against new boys Fulham and Leeds.
Solskjaer was unhappy with the fixtures scheduling since United were made to play only 48 hours after returning from Turkey.
Solskjaer said: “We were set up to fail, simple as that. How can you expect players to perform to the best of their ability when you send them out at 1230? Absolute joke.
“A month ago we tried to move this game. What sense is there for us to play on a Saturday when we could play on the Sunday and there is an international break afterwards?
“I can’t say enough how hard these times are for everyone, not just footballers, and we want to see football with quality.
“Our players were set up to fail today with the schedule. I pushed my club to really fight the kick-off time on this one to give us at least half a chance but it was quashed.
“Luke Shaw was injured today, Marcus Rashford the same, because we’ve been to Turkey on Wednesday night, got back in Thursday morning and are playing Saturday lunchtime. It’s an absolute shambles.
“I want to praise the boys for the character they’ve shown. They deserve better than being thrown out here to fail today. The authorities set us up to fail.
“How can I set us up today for a 1230 kick-off? City and Liverpool played on Tuesday and play again on Sunday. Who’s responsible? We’ve had enough of that. I’ve had enough.
“Set us up on a Sunday. It’s an international break after. No argument.”
Keen to emphasise his point, a clearly angry Solskjaer continued: “They have to understand in these times, a pandemic, how mentally and physically draining it is for the players. They deserve all the praise. They were fantastic.”
Chelsea are just one point away from Premier League leaders Southampton after a stunning 4-1 demolition of struggling Sheffield United, as they extended their winning run to four matches.
David McGoldrick’s first league goal of the season will have raised Chelsea fans’ fears of another home defeat to the Blades, before Tammy Abraham made it four in four against Chris Wilder’s outfit to level it up.
Ben Chilwell’s second Chelsea goal restored order before half-time and the hosts were rewarded for a controlled and dominate second-half display through late goals by Thiago Silva and Timo Werner.
But while Blue faces were smiling, the pain was etched all over Wilder’s face as his side failed to register a single shot on goal in the second period, leaving the South Yorkshire club bottom of the table and still winless since beating the Blues 3-0 in July.
Both sides started brightly and positivity with Abraham firing wide and Chilwell forcing a save from Aaron Ramsdale early on.
But it was the Blades quick thinking that caught Chelsea cold for the opening goal. A quick short corner found Sander Berge free just inside the box, his shot as he fell headed towards goal and McGoldrick’s quick and clever reaction saw him deflect the ball into the net, to be the first player to score passed Edouard Mendy in a Premier League game.
The game remained open with both keepers called into action with Ramsdale saving from Abraham and Mendy from Max Lowe from range.
So it was no surprise another goal came before 25 minutes. Mateo Kovacic made a superb run to lose his marker and get into the box, squaring into the area before the ball went out of play. Abraham unmarked scuffed his finish, hitting it into the ground, but it somehow had the accuracy to bounce over and out or reach of the Blades keeper to fall into the far corner.
The home continued their positive start and their push for a second was rewarded as they gave the visitors a taste of their own medicine.
A short corner allowed Hakim Ziyech the freedom to cross to the back post. It looked to have missed everyone, but as Ramsdale stayed on his line, when he should have come out to claim the free ball, Chilwell arrived to see the ball deflect off his hip and in.
Ramsdale atoned minutes later, diving smartly to his left to push another Chilwell effort wide
Wilder’s side refused to lie-down, continuing to cause problems from set pieces, while John Lundstram stung the palms of Mendy with a fierce shot from the edge of the area just before the break.
Chelsea were controlled and calm in the second half, dictating the pace, flow and possession of the contest, not allowing their visitors one single attempt on goal.
After a host of half chances, Silva’s late arrival in the box provided a free header from a Ziyech corner for goal number three to finally seal the contest on 78 minutes.
Moments later, man of the match Ziyech sprayed a 40-yard ball over the top to Werner, who lobbed over the onrushing Ramsdale only to see his effort scrap the wrong side of the right post when he should have been celebrating.
But the German was not to be denied, scoring just a minute later, racing onto a loose ball and firing home from 12 yards to seal a near perfect evening for Blues, who have only lost to Liverpool in the league this season.