Manchester United substitute Mason Greenwood scored a 77th-minute equaliser to deny Duncan Ferguson a second successive win as Everton’s interim manager.
Everton looked set for back-to-back league victories for the first time since April when Victor Lindelof turned Leighton Baines’ first-half corner into his own goal after VAR ruled David de Gea had not been impeded by Dominic Calvert-Lewin as they jumped at the near post.
It took 18-year-old Greenwood to come off the bench and rescue a point for United with a fine shot from the edge of the area to follow up his two goals in the Europa League against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday.
Everton’s fans were delighted at the end though, singing Ferguson’s name in tribute to the Scot’s impact since replacing sacked Marco Silva.
Despite the cold and rain, Ferguson spent most of the game in nothing more than a shirt and tie, and long after the final whistle went over to acknowledge the visiting fans.
The result means United have collected 25 points from their first 17 games, one fewer than they had at the same point last season when Jose Mourinho was sacked.
What now for Everton?
Evidently, Everton’s hierarchy have some thinking to do.
Owner Farhad Moshiri and chairman Bill Kenwright sat side-by-side in the Old Trafford directors’ box. Kenwright chewed furiously on a piece of gum as the stresses of the game took hold.
Ferguson has stressed repeatedly he does not wish to be considered for the manager’s job full-time. Yet it is clear the Everton fans love him and the Scot’s exuberant goal celebrations prove he loves the club. More importantly, their players have a sense of purpose that so often seemed to be lacking during Silva’s reign.
The notable draw was achieved without the experience of Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott, who were ruled out with calf injuries, and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was taken ill at the team hotel.
It included a brutal substitution of substitute – and big-money signing – Moise Kean, who had only been on the pitch 18 minutes, and ended long after the final whistle when Ferguson – after applauding the Everton fans – saluted the directors’ box, where Kenwright remained, applauding enthusiastically back.
With a Carabao Cup quarter-final against Leicester on Wednesday to come before the packed Christmas schedule, there must be a temptation for Moshiri and Kenwright to leave things as they are and reassess in the New Year.
Greenwood a United star
Solskjaer spent a large chunk of his post-match press conference on Thursday talking about Greenwood.
However this season turns out for United, it will be remembered as the campaign they unearthed a star.
It was fitting on the day they achieved the remarkable feat of selecting a 4,000th consecutive matchday squad with an academy player in it that Greenwood should find the net in a league game at Old Trafford for the first time.
Only Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck have done so at a younger age in the Premier League for United. Greenwood has already scored more goals than Macheda and will hope to stay clear of the injuries that dogged Welbeck at United.
With seven goals to his name, Greenwood is now clear as United’s second top scorer behind Marcus Rashford this season.
United’s creative gap
There was plenty of talk about Solskjaer’s trip to Austria to see Red Bull Salzburg’s Erling Haaland on Friday in the build-up to the game.
Haaland is evidently of interest to United, who will try to sign pre-existing targets when the January transfer window opens, and Solskjaer’s positive relationship with the 19-year-old, who played under him at Molde, is an advantage. It is a lack of creativity in midfield that really needs addressing though.
United have managed to amass 14 points from six games against the remainder of England’s ‘big six’, plus current title challengers Leicester, with getting only 11 from their other 12 matches, against teams less likely to attack them and leave spaces for the counter.
Paul Pogba is Solskjaer’s most creative player but the Frenchman has played twice since August and not at all since the draw against Arsenal on 30 September. He is due to start training again this week after ankle surgery amid continuing speculation about a move away from Old Trafford next summer.
Man of the match – Tom Davies (Everton)
Manchester United are next in action against League Two Colchester in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday (20:00 GMT) before a Premier League trip to bottom side Watford on 22 December (14:00 GMT). Everton are also in the Carabao Cup last eight and entertain Leicester on Wednesday (19:45) before hosting Arsenal on 21 December (12:30).