Ibrahimovic salvages a point as Man Utd thwart Everton
An injury time penalty maintains United's unbeaten run, but Jose Mourinho is left to lament another frustrating evening
Manchester United 1 Everton 1
A ninth draw in 16 Premier League home games this season cost United the opportunity to close the gap on Manchester City, but after equalising in the 94th minute they will be grateful to have salvaged a point against Everton.
The result leaves Jose Mourinho's side in fifth, four points adrift of the neighbours and three ahead of Arsenal, who will climb above them on goal difference if they beat West Ham this evening.
It was another frustrating performance for the United manager, who has seen his team score just 21 league goals at Old Trafford this season, fewer than Burnley, Bournemouth, Leicester, Watford and West Brom. Asked to explain the poor return, Mourinho admitted there was a problem with the "confidence levels" of his players. "How many goals have Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba scored? How many goals from the attacking players? Not enough."
The Special One was also quick to apportion blame elsewhere: "We've had lots of unlucky decisions by referees," he said. "We've had lost of amazing performances from opposing goalkeepers. We've had lots of ultra-defensive teams coming here, but we need to score goals. We have chances and we need to score goals."
One player who definitely is scoring goals for United is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and it was his stoppage time penalty that levelled the scores after Phil Jagielka had given the visitors the lead when he got on the end of a flick from Ashley Williams.
It was Ibrahimovic's 27th goal of the season and but for his contribution United would be a long way off qualification for next season's Champions League. There was a hint in the post-match interview that the Swede, who stroked home his spot kick on 94 minutes after Williams was sent off for handling the ball, wants his teammates to roll up their sleeves between now and the end of the season.
"We have to do more," he said. "We need to keep focus, we cannot afford these mistakes, especially now in the end [of the season] because it's very important points especially when the table is like it is. We are close, but still we don't get the points that we need."
Ibrahimovic thought he had equalised for United earlier in the game but the effort was disallowed for offside, a decision he cast doubt on. "I thought it was goal because I came from the right side of the defender when he played back and I thought it was a goal, " he said.
Characteristically, Mourinho believed the goal should have stood, saying: "We scored two legal goals but I tell you with a smile on my face because I am not upset with the linesman. A really difficult decision for him, only video assistant replay could help this."
Nonetheless, United didn't deserve the three points after another shapeless performance in which they dominated possession - 61.5 per cent - but managed only three shots on target. It's not good enough for a club with Champions League aspirations and in terms of points amassed this season, Mourinho is trailing the number accumulated by Louis van Gaal in his first season at Old Trafford.
"I am very pleased with the effort," said Mourinho, "but the performance from a football point of view was not good."