Manchester United’s Premier League title ambitions took a “big blow” against Everton according to Paul Scholes, who picked out Paul Pogba’s injury as the turning point.
United looked to be on course for a victory against the Toffees on Saturday evening which would have moved them level on points with rivals Manchester City.
Edinson Cavani’s header and Bruno Fernandes’ brilliant strike from the edge of the box had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side 2-0 up at half-time at Old Trafford as Pogba was forced off with what looked like a thigh problem.
He was replaced by Fred in the 39th minute and Everton came out on the front foot after the break, scoring two quick goals to pull level.
Abdoulaye Doucoure tapped in after David De Gea parried Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s cross into his path and James Rodriguez powered into the bottom corner minutes later to make it 2-2.
Scott McTominay headed a free-kick into the bottom corner to restore the hosts’ lead at 3-2, but Calvert-Lewin netted in the 94th-minute to dent United’s title hopes.
The result leaves United two points behind City, who have a further game in hand and can increase their lead at the top with victory over Liverpool at Anfield this afternoon.
Former United midfielder Scholes thought United’s midfield struggled to deal with Everton after Pogba’s departure.
“That’s a big blow. If you’re talking about title hopes, it’s a big blow for them, of course it is,” he told Premier League Productions.
“I just feel Paul Pogba going off was a big moment in the game. I thought they had complete control up to that point.
“Fred coming on, they lost control in the middle of the pitch. [Andre] Gomes, Doucoure and [Tom] Davies really started to take control of the game and that was a big blow for United. “Conceding a goal that late, it’s not a good look. Are they totally out of it? It’s going to be difficult from now on I think.
“But they’ve got to keep going, they’ve got to keep fighting, they’ve got to keep believing.”
Pogba is to be assessed today as United attempt to discover how serious his muscle injury is, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remaining positive post-match.
Scholes liked what he saw from United’s attack, but believes Solskjaer’s side could be left to reflect on a “what if” season if they don’t improve their form at Old Trafford.
“There was a lot of [positive] stuff in the game, of course there was, to get in the position they were in but they’ll be very disappointed,” he added.
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Manchester United smashed nine goals past Southampton on Tuesday night as they bounced back from disappointing results against Sheffield United and Arsenal in emphatic fashion.
The game was effectively over as a contest inside the first two minutes as Southampton were reduced to 10 men, but United still had to find the goals and they did exactly that, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial (two), Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James all getting on the scoresheet.
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“And again it’s at home, dropping big games at home. I think they’ll get to the end of the season and think ‘what if?’ because it’s so many stupid points they’ve dropped at home. “They’ve lost four games at home, now these stupid points they’ve dropped, Sheffield United last week, Tottenham, Crystal Palace, losing to an Arsenal team who are nowhere near the team they were.
“It’s looking like it’s going to be a ‘what if?’ season for them.”
United face West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday before a trip to play struggling West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League next weekend.