Boss Proud Despite 'Painful' Late Blow

by Mike Taylor
@Everton

Ronald Koeman described the last-gasp penalty that denied Everton three points against Manchester United as “painful”, but declared himself pleased with the overall performance of his side.

Phil Jagielka’s improvised flick midway through the first half earned the Blues a deserved lead at Old Trafford.

It looked as though that effort would be enough to secure victory, until Ashley Williams was adjudged to handle the ball inside the box deep into second-half stoppage time, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic converting from 12 yards to earn a share of the spoils.

Speaking after the game, Koeman bemoaned his side’s lack of clinical work on the counter-attack in the second half but praised the organisation shown in defence.

“We lost two points, because we did a really good job tonight,” he said. “I think we controlled the game, maybe in the first 10-15 minutes United were the better team with one open chance for Ibrahimovic. They started fast, but I think we controlled well, defended well and we made some mistakes in the second half.

“We had to score the second goal because we had so much space but we didn’t always take the right decisions. Even not scoring the second, I was comfortable because, of course, we know we need to defend and we did a great job defensively. It is always difficult with Fellaini, Ibrahimovic and Pogba - tall people in the box, working for second balls but the team was well organised defensively.

“It is always hard to take. Of course, it is the right decision for the penalty at the end but it is painful when you are just one minute away from winning the game. It is really painful because the boys did a great job, they showed everything but it is one point. Okay, if you can’t win then don’t lose.”

After starting the contest with a flat back four, Koeman opted to switch to three centre-backs with 25 minutes remaining.

“I brought Pennington on and we defended well again, but we also had a lot of space on the counter-attack,” he added.

“They started straight with Fellaini and Ibrahimovic in front, then you know they are two players who are good in the air. I think it was the right decision [to go to three at the back] at that time and even with one more defender at the back, we had a lot of counter-attacking movements but our last ball was not the best. If it was, we would have created more chances to score a second.”

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