Saturday, April 13

Everton 0 Manchester United 3: Was Garnacho’s overhead kick Premier League’s greatest?

Alejandro Garnacho’s stunning overhead kick helped Manchester United maintain their status as the Premier League’s form team with victory over Everton at a feisty Goodison Park.

Everton supporters staged protests against the club’s 10-point deduction before and during the game, holding up posters saying “corrupt” before kick off and in the 10th minute.

After being stunned by Garnacho’s acrobatic opener, Everton carried the greater attacking threat but went 2-0 down when Ashley Young fouled Anthony Martial in the box (VAR Chris Kavanagh prompted referee John Brooks to review his decision to book the United striker for a dive) and Marcus Rashford (not Bruno Fernandes) converted the penalty.

Martial scored his ninth goal against Everton for United’s third in the game to ensure a first Premier League win of the season by more than a single goal. They have now won five out of their last six games, the 15 points gained being more than any other side during this period.

Everton, meanwhile, are second-bottom on four points.

Here The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell and Sebastian Stafford-Bloor analyse the match.


Was Garnacho’s overhead kick the best the Premier League has seen?

Sitting high in the Goodison Park commentary booth, Gary Neville knew he was sparking debate by hailing Garnacho’s acrobatic strike as the best of its kind he had seen. Even better than Wayne Rooney’s, he insisted. That Rooney goal needs no further description for people to know the moment in question — a sign of its unique quality. But instinctively it feels like Garnacho’s will gain the same cachet.

In terms of technique, both are similar, with the player shuffling backwards and flipping their body on an angle to connect with the ball, but Garnacho’s was a cleaner hit, with Rooney’s famously coming off his shin. There was a bit of this with Garnacho’s, but some boot, too. Garnacho also had less time to react, with Diogo Dalot’s cross fired quicker than Nani’s, which took a deflection.

Perhaps this is a separate argument but the build-up arguably gives Garnacho’s extra edge too. Victor Lindelof’s pass to Marcus Rashford to start the move was sublime.


Garnacho’s wonderful overhead kick (Getty Images)

Rooney’s had greater context, winning a Manchester derby in a season United went on to lift the Premier League title. But Garnacho’s was important too — quelling the hyped Everton start in a game Erik ten Hag’s side needed to win to stay close to the Champions League places.

Ten Hag got a good view of the goal, serving his touchline ban by watching from the directors’ box in between technical director Darren Fletcher, who played in that Rooney game in 2011, and new interim chief executive Patrick Stewart.

As for all the other contenders for best overhead kick the Premier League has seen, Sebastien Haller’s (vs Crystal Palace) in 2020, Dimitar Berbatov’s (vs Liverpool) in 2010, Christian Benteke’s (vs Manchester United) in 2015, Andy Carroll’s (vs Palace) in 2017, Emre Can’s (vs Watford) in 2017 are all worthy of mention. But Garnacho’s had a special blend of power, distance and speed.

Laurie Whitwell


How did Mainoo do on his first Premier League start?

Had pre-season gone differently, Kobbie Mainoo would have started a Premier League game before now. He started against Arsenal in New Jersey and was excellent, then again for the friendly against Real Madrid in Houston in a sign of how highly Ten Hag regards the 18-year-old. But a knee injury sustained in that game in July kept Mainoo out until recently.

Selecting Mainoo in feverish Goodison Park was a statement by Ten Hag of the midfielder’s qualities and his composure stood out starkly. As a schoolboy, Mainoo was a star of the United team who won the FA Youth Cup in 2022, but this was another level. Despite the hectic nature of the contest he was never rushed, even when receiving the ball in deep positions from Andre Onana. He looked to turn and play forwards too, rather than pass back.

He sensed danger wisely, sliding in to scoop away a certain goal from Idrissa Gana Gueye when Dwight McNeill’s shot rolled towards the line, and flying to block a shot by McNeill a short time later as Everton ramped up the pressure.

Mainoo was effective higher up too, at one stage picking up the ball from Dalot in a pocket of space and getting into the box after an exchange of passes with Marcus Rashford.

When Mainoo was substituted on 72 minutes, he received congratulations from Harry Maguire and Scott McTominay, and Ten Hag will hope he now has a mobile player for that No 6 position.


Mainoo clears the ball off the line (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Laurie Whitwell


How did Everton respond on the pitch to their 10-point penalty?

The tone of Everton’s response was as everyone knew it would be. The crowd was furious and partisan. Placards decrying the Premier League’s decision decorated the stands and fireworks crackled in the skies above Goodison Park. The tenor of the day turned this into a football match played inside a protest.

On the pitch, the players were animated too. Garnacho’s fabulous goal may have been good enough to drain the oxygen from the day but Everton quickly rebuilt in the aftermath — to the extent that United spent the rest of the half barely clinging to their lead. They failed to move, or even retain, possession in any meaningful way during the first half, resorting to long, direct exits which invited Everton back towards them.


Referee Brooks checks the VAR screen (Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

And that should have been costly. There was heart to Everton’s football, but imagination too, and they created enough chances to at least be level at the interval, perhaps even ahead. The VAR review that led to Manchester United’s penalty dimmed some of the belief among Sean Dyche’s players in the second half, understandably so, but Goodison continued to boil and bubble long after the points were lost.

Sebastian Stafford-Bloor


What did Ten Hag, Dyche and Garnacho say?

Erik ten Hag: “The start of the game, very good. A very good team goal, the finish was incredible — world class. Probably already the goal of the season. Magnificent moment.

“Then we went passive and Everton were in the game. At half-time we corrected it and were very good. We were proactive, taking the initiative and scoring great goals.”

Garnacho, who was named the player of the match by Sky Sports, said: “I can’t believe it to be honest. I didn’t see how it went in. I just listened around. I said, ‘Oh my God.’ For me, (it is) one of the best goals I have ever scored. Yes, probably (one of the goals of the season) but is only November.”

Sean Dyche: “They started the game with a worldie which put us on the back foot. We played well in the first half and had good chances so I was pleased at half-time.

“Then they get a penalty early on and the VAR is being made so complex. I feel for the fans and the referee stares at the screen and we know the outcome.

“The way the modern game is they say it is a penalty. But we see it all the time and it is what the game has become now.”


What next for Everton?

Saturday, December 2: Nottingham Forest (A), Premier League 5.30pm GMT, 12.30pm ET


What next for Manchester United?

Wednesday, November 29: Galatasaray (A), Champions League, 5.45pm GMT, 12.45pm ET

United travel to Turkey desperate for three points to get their Champions League campaign back on track. Defeat could see them eliminated from the competition.

Saturday, December 2: Newcastle (A), Premier League, 8pm GMT, 3pm ET


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(Top photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)