Man Utd lose to Everton: Five things we learned as Cristiano Ronaldo struggles yet again

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Manchester United suffered a major blow to their hopes to qualifying for next season’s Champions League as they failed to beat Everton over the course of a scrappy encounter at Goodison Park. Anthony Gordon’s deflected opener gave the hosts all three points to boost their own hopes of securing Premier League survival while condemning the visitors to yet another lacklustre defeat at the hands of weaker opposition.

United went close through Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo during the early stages of the match, with Everton stopper Jordan Pickford producing a number of high-quality saves to keep his side on level terms. The Toffees were eventually rewarded for their resilience when Gordon’s first-time effort took a heavy deflection on its way towards goal, leaving David de Gea helpless to prevent the ball from bouncing over the line.

The result saw United remain seventh in the Premier League table and gave the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham a golden opportunity to pull away in the race to secure a fourth-placed finish at the end of the campaign. It was largely a story of same old, same old from Ralf Rangnick’s side, who were painfully lethargic throughout the encounter and will surely fail to make the Premier League’s top four if things do not improve as a matter of urgency over the coming weeks.

Express Sport takes a look at five talking points in the immediate aftermath of United’s latest defeat at the hands of Everton at Goodison Park.

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Ronaldo struggles again

Ronaldo was forced to miss out against Leicester City with an illness earlier this month but was restored to United’s starting side for the trip to Goodison Park. However, it was yet another muted performance from the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who spurned a couple of half-chances to give the visitors an early lead while also failing to contribute enough when out of possession.

The 37-year-old was virtually anonymous for large parts of the match in a lacklustre showing for a player of his calibre, although he did lack adequate service from his team-mates on more than a few occasions. It remains to be seen whether he will seek a move away if United fail to secure Champions League qualification over the coming months, with a clean break potentially able to represent a favourable solution for all parties at this stage.

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Time for Dalot?

Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be kicking himself after he was to blame for a crucial lapse in judgement in the build-up to Everton’s opening goal. The former Crystal Palace right-back was nowhere to be seen as Richarlison zipped down the left flank before taking his time to fire the ball across the box prior to Gordon’s decisive strike.

It seems as though Wan-Bissaka is still yet to iron out the mistakes that have plagued his efforts since the beginning of the campaign, potentially leaving Diogo Dalot as the best option to come in at right-back as things stand. The 23-year-old has come on leaps and bounds over the last two years and could be ready to feature on a consistent basis for United if he is given an extended run in the side over the coming weeks.

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From bad to worse

United’s day took another negative turn just ten minutes before half-time when Fred was forced off with a knock and replaced by Paul Pogba in the middle of the park. The Brazilian has emerged as one of his side’s better performers in recent months and will ideally be required to provide some much-needed balance in midfield between now and the end of the season.

The Red Devils will be desperately hoping that Fred’s apparent injury is not too serious, with the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal set to face Ralf Rangnick’s side over the course of the Premier League run-in. It remains to be seen whether or not the 29-year-old will be ruled out for any length of time but he will undoubtedly be missed if he is forced onto the treatment table in the wake of the club’s latest defeat.

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Everton’s turning point?

Everton went into Saturday’s match under the crippling weight of expectation to pick up some much-needed points after their crushing defeat at the hands of relegation rivals Burnley in midweek. They did not exactly play well against United but were the better team on the day and emerged as the rightful victors once all had been said and done.

Frank Lampard’s side will now be desperate to build some winning momentum in order to maintain their efforts in securing Premier League survival over the coming weeks. Their run-in will see them face a number of top-half teams before the end of the season, but winning breeds confidence and they will be desperate to make the most of it in their next few outings.

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Merson proven right

United’s abject display against Everton was all too predictable for Arsenal icon Paul Merson, who tipped the Red Devils to succumb to yet another damaging defeat as a result of their lack of cohesion before kick-off.

“Everton could be in the bottom three by Saturday evening, but something tells me they’re going to beat Ralf Rangnick’s men,” Merson told Sportskeeda on Thursday. “This is a cup final for Frank Lampard’s side, and they [United] will have to play consistently across 90 minutes to get a result, which has been a major problem for them in recent weeks.

“Manchester United are just all over the place at the moment. They weren’t good enough against Leicester City last weekend.”

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