Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard’s fine second-half strikes delivered a first win in five for Manchester United as they lifted the gloom of their festive period by beating Everton 2-0.
Jose Mourinho’s men had signed off 2017 by exiting the Carabao Cup to Championship side Bristol City prior to three successive draws, yet a stirring second-half performance at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day meant they got back on track.
Following a dull first 45, Martial, playing up front in the absence of injured duo Romelu Lukaku and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, curled home a 57th-minute opener before Lingard smashed in his seventh goal in nine games nine minutes from time.
It was Wayne Rooney, United’s all-time record scorer, who lost the ball in the build-up to Martial’s strike and the 32-year-old endured an evening to forget having been booked and taken off as the hosts lost control of the contest in the second period.
Neither side could lay claim to dominance in the fragmented early stages, with both guilty of ponderous build-ups that missed end products.
A loose Nemanja Matic pass in midfield – not the sole one in the opening period – led to an Everton break that required a sliding Marcos Rojo intervention to stop Oumar Niasse’s shot.
Rojo registered an effort on target with a 27th-minute header that was easy for Jordan Pickford before the Toffees stopper was forced into a more strenuous save when Martial fired across the six yard box.
It came with the Frenchman familiarly cutting in off the left flank, yet as the lone striker he was not where his team needed him to be when Pickford pushed out.
Life was injected into the contest within 75 seconds of the restart as Juan Mata forced Pickford into a fingertip save.
The Spaniard pulled the trigger again from range with a swerving left-footed attempt that struck the outside of a post as United continued to increase the tempo.
Martial nearly reached a Paul Pogba cross after the United skipper had coasted into the Toffees box via a one-two before the visitors got their reward, thanks to a helping hand from their former captain.
Rooney lost possession on the edge of United’s box and a counter led by Mata went through Pogba before Martial, who had dropped to the edge of the box, placed his shot into the corner.
United were a different animal now and Sam Allardyce felt the need to stop the hosts being overrun in midfield, withdrawing Rooney, to a smattering of boos, and Yannick Bolasie just after the hour mark.
It did not stop Pogba’s growing influence and a fine Pickford save prevented him from rifling home a second before United’s record buy nearly reached Martial’s cross.
For all the second half momentum, United’s lead was still slender and the Goodison Park crowd was stirred by Niasse heading just wide.
Yet the in-form Lingard put the game to bed, collecting a pass from Pogba, driving at Michael Keane and then curling around both Ashley Williams and Pickford for his 10th goal of the season.