LEAGUES

Man Utd trio Maguire, McTominay and Fred catch the eye for Solskjaer

3 months ago
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Manchester United captain Harry Maguire and midfield duo Scott McTominay and Fred all impressed in a crucial win at Everton.

Harry Maguire's dominant display in Manchester United's 3-1 win over Everton drew praise from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who also lauded Fred and Scott McTominay's midfield partnership.

United bounced back from successive defeats to Arsenal and Istanbul Basaksehir by claiming a vital win at Goodison Park, relieving some of the mounting pressure on Solskjaer.

Bernard put Everton ahead, but a quickfire double from Bruno Fernandes turned matters around before the break.

Everton toiled for an equaliser in the second half, but the contest was settled in added time when Fernandes, who has now been involved in a Premier League record 15 goals (10 scored, five assisted) in his first 10 away games in the competition, teed up Edinson Cavani for his maiden United goal.

MAGUIRE LEADS UNITED DEFENCE

While Fernandes made United's attack tick, captain Maguire put in an excellent performance at the other end, standing firm against the league's joint-leading scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Maguire was dominant in the air as Everton – still shorn of the suspended Richarlison – attempted to pick out their often-isolated forward, with the England defender making one tackle, one interception and seven clearances, the most he has managed in a league match this term.

After a difficult start to the season for Maguire, it was a display which delighted Solskjaer, who told a news conference: "I thought Harry's performance was top, of course.

"Against for me one of the best in the world for aerial play – Calvert-Lewin, with his timing in the air, his jump, his spring, his athleticism.

"I thought we defended very well against him. Really pleased with Harry, and the rest of them back there." 

Having used a midfield diamond in United's defeat to Arsenal last Sunday, Solskjaer switched to a 4-2-3-1, with Fred and McTominay in a double-pivot.

The duo excelled, attempting a combined 112 passes and making three tackles between them, with McTominay also intercepting two passes – a game-high.

Fred had the most passing attempts (63) and completed passes (57) of any United player, with his 90.5 per cent success rate the best among their starters.

"Scott and Fred have done brilliant together, they're a great partnership," said Solskjaer, who left Paul Pogba on the bench until the 82nd minute.

"Of course, they didn't play during the week, Scott played 45 minutes in Turkey, but you can see they had fresh legs. 

"We had Bruno and he scored his goals, but Scott and Fred, with that energy, in that engine room, they're always key for us so our creative players can go on and create chances, show their magic.

"They're so disciplined and I'm very pleased with the two of them."

TOFFEES COME UNSTUCK YET AGAIN

While Solskjaer revelled in a much-improved performance, Ancelotti was left to reflect on a third straight league reverse.

November 2006, at Milan, was the last time Ancelotti endured such a run, while Everton have conceded at least two goals in each of their last five league games.

"The problem was that after we scored we were not able to defend well, and they took advantage," Ancelotti told BT Sport.

"They were able to score easily. We said before the game we had to defend better and we did not defend good enough. We were slow at the back, we have to improve.

"I hope that after the international break we will back in a different shape. It is not only a problem of the defenders, it is all of the team.

"I know how to manage difficulties, every year you have them. We can start again after the break, we are really bad at the moment but we started well."