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Other SportsMan United penalty taker: Rotation for goals vs Everton shows 'team spirit',...

Man United penalty taker: Rotation for goals vs Everton shows ‘team spirit’, says Ten Hag

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag says his players showed “team spirit” by switching penalty taker from Bruno Fernandes to Marcus Rashford during their Premier League win over Everton.

Captain Fernandes fired in the 12th-minute opener but United made the unusual move of entrusting a new taker with their second spot kick of the game, Rashford stepping up to curl in an equally assured finish in the 36th minute of the 2-0 victory at Old Trafford.

“Bruno took the first but we have more very good penalty takers,” Ten Hag told TNT Sports after a result which eased the pressure on him following two successive defeats.

“It shows the team spirit. In this moment, [Rashford] is good, in the team and a threat. We had to put this right and keep the pressure on the teams above us. There are many games to play. Now we are back.”

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United are three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham and have two fewer games to play than the side occupying the position which is likely to ensure Uefa Champions League qualification in 2024/25.

Man United vs Everton: Ten Hag praises defending

While the result was welcome after a surprise last-gasp winner for Fulham in their last home game, the 20-time champions were put under pressure at times by the relegation-threatened Toffees, who have not won in 11 matches.

Everton became the fifth team of the last six United have faced to send in at least 20 attempts at goal – a statistic that could be considered worrying with league leaders Liverpool awaiting Ten Hag’s side in the FA Cup in eight days’ time.

“We defended very well,” said Ten Hag. “We could have been a bit better in the build-up. We could have scored three or four goals, not just the two penalties.

“We could have been calmer and more composed on the ball. Everton did well. They pressed high, which gave us lots of chances in behind.

“Our expected goals [count] is much higher than theirs. We are defending low-quality chances. Sometimes we are defending very low and we can do that very well.

“We can make better choices to rest on the ball, choosing when to break. “Every game we have to win, so every game is a must-need.

Alejandro Garnacho won both penalties, drawing fouls from James Tarkowski and Ben Godfrey. “He’s progressing very well and we are very pleased,” Ten Hag said of the 19-year-old winger.

“His contribution today was huge – his runs, his dribbles. It’s attractive as well for the [fans]… they were well-deserved penalties.”

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