Mason Greenwood came off the bench to rescue Manchester United as the teenage striker’s late equaliser secured a 1-1 draw against Everton on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fell behind to Victor Lindelof’s controversial first half own-goal after United’s appeals for a foul on David de Gea were ignored by VAR.
“It was a clear foul but there’s no point me complaining. It (VAR) will be better next year. They’ll have to look at it,” Solskjaer said.
But Greenwood, introduced in the second half, underlined his vast potential with a clinical strike 13 minutes from full-time.
The 18-year-old is the third youngest player to score a Premier League goal at Old Trafford after former United forwards Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck.
Bradford-born Greenwood, a product of United’s youth academy, now has seven goals in his breakthrough season after netting twice in his previous appearance against Alkmaar in the Europa League on Thursday.
This was his second Premier League goal after his strike against Sheffield United in November and his rapid progress is a bright spot in a difficult season for Solskjaer’s sixth placed team.
It was fitting that Greenwood scored in the 4,000th senior match in succession in which at least one youth graduate was represented in United’s first-team or matchday squad, an extraordinary record stretching back over nine decades.
After their impressive wins over Tottenham and Manchester City in their last two league games, United’s frustrating draw reaffirmed how much improvement is still needed under Solskjaer despite Greenwood’s ascent.
“Today is not a big step backwards, it’s more of a stand still, not improving,” said Solskjaer.
United have been linked with a January move for Salzburg striker Erling Braut Haaland and Solskjaer said: “He knows what he wants to do and he knows what he’s going to do. So I don’t have to give any advice to any other teams’ players.”
For Duncan Ferguson, Everton’s caretaker manager, this spirited performance built on the momentum from last weekend’s win over Chelsea.
Hit by injuries and illness, Everton were more solid than under the sacked Marco Silva.
– Buying time –
But Ferguson, a popular club legend, insisted he isn’t the right man to lead Everton in the long-term.
“I think it’s buying them a bit of time until they can get the right man in. That’s what a couple of results does, so we can make that process more diligent,” he said.
“We need the best manager in the world to manage Everton Football Club and I’ve not got the right experience. I’m all for us bringing in a top manager and if I can be part of it, brilliant.”
Everton took the lead in bizarre fashion in the 36th minute.
When Leighton Baines sent over an inswinging corner, De Gea came and missed as he tried to punch clear, with the ball bouncing off Lindelof into his own net.
United protested that Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin had fouled De Gea by putting an arm across his face, but although the goal was reviewed by VAR it was allowed to stand.
Solskjaer introduced Greenwood with 25 minutes left and it proved an inspired move.
Greenwood immediately had an effort saved by Pickford and, with United firmly on the front foot, the teenage starlet equalised in the 77th minute.
Picked out by James, Greenwood steadied himself on the edge of the area with a perfect first touch before drilling his low left-foot shot through a crowd of Everton defenders and past Pickford.
In a tense finale, Alex Iwobi almost won it for Everton with a dipping shot that De Gea pushed away before Ferguson hauled off substitute Moise Kean only 18 minutes after putting him on.
“I was just doing it for fresh legs. Unfortunately he was the one I decided to bring off. I see why he’s upset, but it’s about the team,” Ferguson said of the unusual Kean substitution.