Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho admis that members of his side are suffering from a crisis of confidence after they again failed to seal maximum points at home during a draw with Everton.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic stroked home a stoppage-time penalty – his 27th goal of the season – to cancel out Phil Jagielka’s inventive close-range strike which had Everton on course for just their second win in 24 league visits to Old Trafford.
United have now drawn nine home league games this season and 12 overall, although this particular point prevented seventh-placed Everton displacing them in fifth. The Red Devils trail Manchester City, who are fourth, by four points.
“The performance was not very good,” said Mourinho. “But the spirit in the second half was phenomenal and with some players really in trouble, some from the physical point of view but others clearly with confidence levels low.
“It was deja vu in many things but I must admit we played better football in some other matches. Did we have chances? Yes. Did we hit the post as always? Yes. Did the opponent’s goalkeeper play very well as always? Yes.
“One decision went against us and the opponent was ultra-defensive as always, but we didn’t play very well. Some players are in trouble, especially in confidence. Some players are suffering a little bit.
“But the spirt was good and the pride was there and the Manchester United way of fight was there.”
Despite their myriad draws, United entered the clash on a 19-match unbeaten run in the league and started brightly as Ibrahimovic, back from a three-match domestic suspension, saw an early shot blocked by Everton centre-half Ashley Williams.
It was Williams who flicked on a 22nd minute corner and Jagielka, while wrestling United defender Marcos Rojo, acrobatically diverted the ball through the legs of goalkeeper David de Gea to hand Everton the lead.
United’s Daley Blind had a free-kick clawed away on the half hour mark by Everton stopper Joel Robles, before midfielder Ander Herrera clipped the crossbar with a rebound effort from a narrow angle.
United threatened again 10 minutes after the restart as substitute Paul Pogba flicked an instinctive header against the woodwork from Ashley Young’s inswinging free-kick, which took a touch off Romelu Lukaku.
Ibrahimovic, however, who had an earlier headed goal ruled out for offside, had the final word as he converted a last-gasp penalty after Williams was dismissed for deliberate handball.