Ole Gunnar Solskjaer matches Alex Ferguson's record as Bruno Fernandes galvanises Manchester United against Everton

United register seventh successive Premier League away win

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Strange as it sounds, Manchester United equalled a record of excellence. A club that can teeter on the brink of crisis registered a seventh successive Premier League away win.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer matched Sir Alex Ferguson’s best from 1993 and, while he tries to emulate his mentor in grander respects, he illustrated the dangers of writing him off prematurely and seemed to borrow from the great Scot’s playbook in his post-match grievances.

Solskjaer’s United can veer between highs and lows, sometimes without warning, but they show an expertise in escapology.

Mediocre against Arsenal and miserable versus Istanbul Basaksehir, they needed a result and inflicted just Everton’s second home defeat under Carlo Ancelotti on Saturday.

Solskjaer was never likely to be sacked in the international break; now he won’t be, but United are still in the lower half of the table.

Perhaps it was a trick from Ferguson’s manual, perhaps a sign the pressure is telling but the often amiable Solskjaer complained about the authorities.

“We are playing Saturday lunchtime,” he said. “It’s an absolute shambles. We tried to move this game a month ago. The boys deserve better. We don’t look after the players. They are not robots. Luke Shaw got injured because of it, a hamstring which might be a long one.”

Marcus Rashford’s shoulder problem will also be assessed. United were hurt physically, but not in another respect.

“The kick-off time set us up to fail,” Solskjaer added. But they did not fail. A redemptive 3-1 triumph served as a microcosm of last season.

Bruno Fernandes salvaged that campaign and a talisman had another catalytic impact. He had delivered an equaliser at Goodison Park in March. He went further on his return to Merseyside, transforming an early deficit into a win with a quick brace and an injury-time assist for Edinson Cavani’s first United goal. “I am very happy with Bruno’s performance,” said Solskjaer.

Fernandes received assistance as when the Norwegian’s choices were justified. In a midfield minus the benched Paul Pogba, the excellent Fred and Scott McTominay offered a more solid platform.

As United prospered on their left, Shaw exploited James Rodriguez’s reluctance to track back. Ancelotti switched the Colombian to the other wing in the second half, but by then the damage had been done.

“It was not a good performance,” said the Italian, after a third straight loss. Initially, though, he had more to savour. Two of the six men he recalled contributed to the opener.

Jordan Pickford, whose distribution can feel his strongest suit, played a long ball. Dominic Calvert-Lewin won a flick-on and Bernard jinked inside Aaron Wan-Bissaka to place a shot beyond David de Gea.

While Everton had struggled without the suspended Richarlison, his fellow Brazilian deputised adeptly. Bernard was the supplier when Calvert-Lewin glanced a header over and again when he found the overlapping Lucas Digne, whose shot rattled the frame of the goal.

And yet there were hints of Everton’s fragility. “We were slow at the back,” Ancelotti said bluntly.

“The problem was that after we scored we were not able to defend well.” Anthony Martial, with a scuffed shot, and Marcus Rashford, with a looping effort, had threatened early goals before Fernandes struck twice in eight minutes.

Shaw got a second assist in four days, crossing for Fernandes to evade a static defence to head in. Everton’s aversion to marking was apparent again when Fernandes crossed, an unchecked Rashford rose and, seemingly, did not actually make contract as the ball curled into the far corner.

Certainly the ever unselfish Rashford did not claim it, pointing to the Portuguese in celebration. “It can be his goal,” said a similarly generous Fernandes.

Rashford was denied a strike of his own by Pickford, with a sharp save when the forward sprung Everton’s offside trap, but the recalled goalkeeper’s was far from a flawless comeback. He spilled a free kick, both seemingly fouling Harry Maguire in the box and allowing the United captain to hook the ball on to the roof of an unguarded net.

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