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Sunday 28 May 2017

Iibrahimovic saves point for United

Manchester United 1 Everton 1

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores from the penalty spot
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores from the penalty spot

Manchester United drew yet another league match at Old Trafford - but the overriding emotion at the final whistle was relief rather than frustration after Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck a stoppage-time penalty against Everton.

Home toil has become a familiar theme for Jose Mourinho during his first season in the hot-seat and Ronald Koeman's men looked set to compound matters in last night's Premier League match.

Phil Jagielka's hooked first-half effort put Everton on course for a win that would have seen them usurp United in fifth place, only for second-half pressure to finally pay dividends in stoppage time as Ibrahimovic's penalty secured a dramatic 1-1 draw.

It was a remarkable end to an enthralling encounter in which United struggled to turn dominance into goals, like so many matches this term.

Everton captain Jagielka appeared to have struck the decisive blow with his first goal since May 2015, with Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba hitting the crossbar as the hosts looked to respond.

However, United's intent finally came good in stoppage time as second-half introduction Luke Shaw - just days after being publicly criticised by Mourinho - saw a goalbound shot handled, leading to Ashley Williams' sending off and Ibrahimovic's successful spot-kick. The result - United's ninth home league draw of the campaign - is far from ideal in the fight for the top four, but extends their unbeaten Premier League run to a 20th match.

United edged the early exchanges, but Everton were playing with more attacking verve than plenty of Old Trafford visitors this term.

They soon kicked on and Kevin Mirallas fired a shot across the bows, forcing David de Gea into action at his near post with a fizzing, low effort from an acute angle.

The Spaniard pushed wide for a corner, but moments later saw the ball squirm through his legs. Jagielka was the unlikely scorer after Williams flicked on a corner, with the Everton captain hooking home under pressure.

Herrera then saw a long-range strike tipped wide fantastically by Robles before a smart free-kick fooled United, only for Mirallas to slip.

Everton had looked the more assured side approaching the break, with Mourinho reacting by bringing Pogba on for the second half - a change that almost worked within 10 minutes.

Gareth Barry was booked for wiping out Rashford and Ashley Young's free-kick was met from close-range by Pogba, only for his header to rattle the crossbar.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan came on to freshen up the attack at the same time Shaw replaced the injured Ashley Young, while Mirallas threw his hands up in anger after being taken off for Matthew Pennington.

United's second-half pressure look to have finally told in the 70th minute. Ibrahimovic wriggled free to turn a cross pass Robles, only for celebrations - and the goalkeeper's embarrassment - to be cut short by the assistant referee's flag.

Just as hope looked to have been squeezed out of United, an attempt from Shaw led to a change in fortunes.

Williams handled the left-back's shot and referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot.

Ibrahimovic duly dispatched the penalty, earning a share of the spoils on a night that looked set to end in defeat.

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