Grumbling to himself and shaking his head, Cristiano Ronaldo went straight toward the tunnel at the final whistle of Manchester United’s latest slip-up at Old Trafford.
He had plenty to be aggrieved about.
Not only had his team dropped more points at home in the Premier League, the 36-year-old Ronaldo had been given barely a half-hour on the field against Everton after starting as a substitute following two 90-minute displays in the past week.
Perhaps adding to Ronaldo’s frustration, the scorer of the goal that denied United a victory had the temerity to copy the Portugal star’s famous celebration.
In what he said was a tribute to his “idol,” Everton winger Andros Townsend performed a Ronaldo-style pirouette after his equalizer in the 1-1 draw as United failed to win at home for the second straight Saturday in England’s top division.
A week after a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, United was sloppy and ill-disciplined against Everton in a performance that hardly showed off its title credentials and perhaps will increase the scrutiny on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about whether he is the manager to get the best out of United’s star-studded squad.
Chelsea, another title contender, also looked like dropping points at home until Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell scored late goals to seal a 3-1 win over Southampton.
The turning point came in the 75th minute when James Ward-Prowse, who equalized for Southampton from the penalty spot in the 61st, slid dangerously from behind into the ankle of Jorginho and was sent off after video review with the score at 1-1.
Chelsea dominated the final minutes at Stamford Bridge and Werner tapped home in the 85th before Chilwell added a third in the 89th.
The win put Chelsea in first place ahead of Sunday’s game at Anfield between Liverpool and Manchester City, who came into the seventh round as the top two.
Leeds claimed its first league win of the season by beating Watford 1-0 at home thanks to Diego Llorente’s goal at a corner, while South Korea forward Hwang Hee-chan scored twice for Wolverhampton in a 2-1 victory over Newcastle.
Arsenal continued its recovery from losing its opening three games of the season with a 0-0 draw at Brighton, while Burnley and Norwich also drew 0-0.
Ronaldo started among the substitutes with Solskjaer looking to manage the striker’s minutes given the effort he had put in over the last seven days, including scoring the stoppage-time winner against Villarreal on Wednesday.
The game against Everton came less than 72 hours later so Solskjaer made five changes — and one of them scored the opener, with Anthony Martial powering home a first-time finish from the left after an exquisite touch and pass from Bruno Fernandes.
Everton was always dangerous on the counterattack and scored from one of those breaks. In fact, it stemmed from a corner that was cleared by Everton. United midfielder Fred twice failed to regain possession, leading to Abdoulaye Doucoure playing in Townsend for a low shot from the edge of the area.
“These last two games at home was not good enough in the Premier League,” Fernandes said. «If we want silverware at the end of the season, we have to do much better.”
Ronaldo only had one chance to add to his five goals since moving to United for a second spell, but he lashed a left-foot shot wide from a narrow angle.
Werner’s 85th-minute go-ahead goal proved vital for Chelsea in overcoming Southampton, with the Germany forward scoring in the league for the first time since February.
Werner has seen a league-high 16 goals disallowed since joining Chelsea in 2020, the latest of which came in the first half on Saturday.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he was impressed with Werner’s persistence.
“We are all relieved, him and me and the whole club,” Tuchel said. “Every time he scores we have the feeling there is a VAR decision to take it away from him. There have been a lot of very narrow decisions. He has to keep on going and a lot of things to improve.»
Trevoh Chalobah, a 22-year-old backup defender, put Chelsea ahead in the ninth minute with his second goal of the season.
It was a successful end to a tough week for Chelsea, which lost to Manchester City in the league last Saturday and Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.
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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80