Zlatan Ibrahimovic saves Manchester United F.C., Leicester City F.C. surge ahead
Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned from suspension by saving Manchester United F.C. with a 94th-minute goal as Jose Mourinho’s side escaped with a 1-1 draw against Everton.football Updated: Apr 05, 2017 10:59 IST
Zlatan Ibrahimovic marked his return from suspension with a 94th-minute penalty to earn Manchester United a 1-1 draw against Everton at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
A deliberate handball by Ashley Williams, who was sent off, allowed Ibrahimovic to cancel out Phil Jagielka’s opener and extend United’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to 20 matches.
But it remained an unwelcome result for Jose Mourinho’s side, who have now drawn nine games at home this season and trail fourth-place Manchester City by four points.
“The performance from a football point of view was not good, but I am very pleased with the effort,” said Mourinho, whose team had drawn 0-0 at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. “It is an amazing run of 20 matches unbeaten, but too many draws at home. We don’t kill off enough opponents and at the end of this season I think we will be punished by that.”
Elsewhere, Leicester City’s resurgence under Craig Shakespeare continued as they beat bottom club Sunderland 2-0 to record a sixth successive win since the dismissal of manager Claudio Ranieri.
Ibrahimovic’s last-gasp spot-kick -- his 27th goal of the season -- meant United held on to fifth place, three points above Arsenal and Everton having played a game more than the former.
But the Europa League looks increasingly like their best hope of securing a return to the Champions League next season.
They face Belgian side Anderlecht in a two-legged quarter-final later this month, with the winners of the competition assured of a place at Europe’s top table.
United manager Mourinho welcomed top scorer Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera back from suspension, while Paul Pogba returned to the bench following a hamstring injury.
His side fell behind in the 22nd minute when Williams flicked on Kevin Mirallas’s right-wing corner and centre-back Jagielka held off Marcos Rojo to poke a volley between David de Gea’s legs.
Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles, much criticised after his side’s 3-1 derby loss at Liverpool, produced flying saves to repel a Daley Blind free-kick and a rasping Herrera drive.
Pogba came on at half-time and headed against the bar from an Ashley Young free-kick, while Ibrahimovic had a 71st-minute header chalked off for a marginal offside.
“With the VAR (video assistant referee), we win this game 2-1 because it’s not an offside,” Mourinho told BT Sport.
But in the fourth minute of injury time, Williams was penalised for parrying a shot from substitute Luke Shaw -- brought in from the cold by Mourinho -- and Ibrahimovic dispatched the penalty.
“It was really disappointing not to get the win,” Everton manager Ronald Koeman told BBC Sport. “The penalty was the right decision, but it was really hard to take.”
Champions Leicester are now 10th, a healthy nine points above the bottom three, after sinking Sunderland to record a fifth league win in a row.
Substitute Islam Slimani opened the scoring with a 69th-minute header before the revitalised Jamie Vardy smashed in his sixth goal in seven games from Marc Albrighton’s pass.
Defeat completed a miserable few days for Sunderland manager David Moyes, who had to apologise after being caught on camera threatening to “slap” a female television reporter.
“I’m just grateful for the club’s support,” Moyes said. “As far as I’m concerned the matter’s finished.”
Sunderland lie eight points from safety with eight games of the season remaining.
George Boyd struck as Burnley boosted their survival hopes by beating Stoke City 1-0, while goals from M’Baye Niang and skipper Troy Deeney earned Watford a 2-0 home win over West Brom.
First Published: Apr 05, 2017 10:35 IST