He might not have been on the pitch with the rest of his Everton team-mates on Saturday but Yerry Mina really might have had a lasting influence. Thankfully, Frank Lampard will be able to welcome the centre-back to action very soon – potentially for the home clash with Leicester City after the upcoming mini-break – but despite still being injured, the Colombia international made himself seen on the touchline ahead of the match, standing near the tunnel and watching the rest of the Blues squad as they warmed up.
And, before the players went back down the tunnel and into the dressing room for their final preparations, they had to walk past their charismatic team-mate.
Mina made sure to give each of them a high five and a big hug as they went past him, giving them as much motivation as he possibly could ahead of what he knew was a crucial game. On the field, earlier this season, Mina certainly showed his developing leadership qualities – and his actions in the tunnel were just another example.
By the end of the game, the defender cut a delighted figure. A fantastic video shared by the club showed Mina in the tunnel after the full-time whistle had sounded, congratulating each of his team-mates in turn as they walked past and back to the changing room.
And he could be heard by those still in the stands a good few minutes after the full-time whistle. Walking down the side of the pitch to make his way out of the ground, a distinct shout of “yeah!” could be heard by Mina as he continued to celebrate the victory.
Harry Maguire might have kept Dominic Calvert-Lewin quiet for the majority of the match but the Manchester United captain’s most decisive contribution eventually led to his side’s defeat. Unfortunately from his perspective, he was the man who deflected Anthony Gordon’s effort beyond his own goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
From that moment on, the Blues looked to press home a little bit of momentum for the rest of the first period. That involved Calvert-Lewin running the channels a little bit more and taking his game away from Maguire.
One particular moment saw the striker in the corner before putting a cross into the box, which United dealt with. He then chased the ball running from his position near the byline, beyond the visiting defence, to try and challenge for possession once more.
That led Maguire to raise his hand asking for offside before turning around and looking toward the linesman in front of the Main Stand to ask for the decision. Clearly he got rather confused in the pressure of the game, as he didn’t realise Calvert-Lewin was chasing his own ball into the box.
Speaking of confusion, it was Lampard’s turn to be a little perplexed by one particular moment in the second half. Having given his side their team talk at the break, it was actually United who came back into the fray on the front foot.
In many ways, that might not have been surprising. Everton were playing their third game in the space of seven days, and so tiredness might have been creeping into a few legs.
Nevertheless the manager wanted to see more from his side than he was getting in the opening stages of the second period. So, when the ball went back to Jordan Pickford, he was probably expecting the goalkeeper to produce a precision pass out to one of the flanks – which the England No.1 had been doing for most of the game.
Instead, Pickford hoofed the ball into a position up the other end of the pitch where no Everton player stood within 20 yards of the landing ball. That left Lampard to turn toward his goalkeeper, shout something in his direction, and raise his arm quizzically at the decision he had made.
Thankfully, that was about the only error of judgement Pickford had all afternoon. For the rest of the match he was fantastic, and played a crucial role in Everton securing those three points.
It was not a good game for Cristiano Ronaldo. For the most part, Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey perfectly stood up to the challenge presented by the striker as he attempted to have any sort of impact on the game.
Of course, it took a great save from Pickford late in the match to deny the Portugal international what would have been an undeserved equaliser for the visitors. But that was far from the United man’s only frustration.
He picked up a booking in the second half for petulantly kicking the ball away, which was met by ironic cheers from the home fans. Ronaldo didn’t even look at the referee as the yellow card was shown to him, such was his annoyance at the situation starting to build.
And he might have been a little more frustrated by the time the final whistle went. Ronaldo was pictured with one of his socks off and the effects of what looked like a tough challenge from an Everton player at some stage of the match.
The post-match reaction from Everton’s players couldn’t have been further from frustration. As soon as the final whistle sounded out around Goodison Park, you could see the relief and the release of emotion both in the stands and on the pitch.
Richarlison was already on the floor having gone down under a challenge having tried to close down the United defence. But, honestly, he could have stayed on the turf for that little bit longer thanks to the incredible shift he had put in for the previous 90 minutes of the game.
Eventually it was David De Gea who picked the Brazilian up as the celebrations started in the opposite half of the pitch. Anthony Gordon then took his shirt off and gave it to a lucky young supporter in the crowd, before stopping to take a picture with the fan as well.
Alex Iwobi, another who gave his heart and soul to his performance, instantly dropped to his knees in celebration, while a few United players around him hit the ground in despair. Lampard was back onto the pitch to give out huge hugs to his players before they left the field, and give the supporters the well-deserved appreciation their noise warranted.
All in all, they were scenes which were much more welcome at Goodison Park.
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