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Benitez proud of Everton effort, defends Davies’s decision to pass

The depleted Blues had to dig deep to pull level against Manchester United

Manchester United v Everton - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Everton were without five injured players - arguably four of them starters - for Saturday’s early fixture at Old Trafford, but were still able to come away with a 1-1 draw after coming from behind to level against Manchester United.

Speaking after the game, the manager Rafa Benitez was proud of how hard his team had worked throughout.

“I am really pleased to come here and perform the way we did – we were nearly there, very close [to winning]. The chances we had and the way we defended, against a very good team, you have to be really proud of the players.

“It is a good draw, mentally like a victory, with the players who aren’t playing. If we have everybody available and continue with the same team spirit, we can win more games.

“Hopefully, we can bring back some players but be sure that we keep the same mentality, the same commitment, the same intensity. Then, after, we go little by little, progressing in the season, and we’ll see where we are.”

United had taken the lead just before the break after a defensive lapse, but Benitez was satisfied with how his side had fought back.

“We were doing well and it was a pity we conceded in the last three minutes on the first half because the team was working hard. I was a little bit worried because United have players on the bench who can make the difference.

“We needed to keep the intensity and that was not easy against a very good team. In the second half, the team reacted well and we had chances to win the game.

“Andros is doing well, his commitment and quality is there. But this was a team effort, it is not one player doing well. Andros was fantastic but the rest of the team worked so hard to get a point that could have been even better.”

Tom Davies had an opportunity to win all three points late on, but chose to pass to Yerry Mina to slot home. Unfortunately though the defender was deemed offside and the winner was chalked off.

“In terms of the chance for Davies, I think he saw the position of Yerry and thought it was much better than his position. That’s it.

“You can’t blame a player for making this kind of decision. If he doesn’t have anyone and he’s looking for someone then ok you can say he doesn’t want to score, or he was a little scared.

“But that’s not the case, you can’t blame him. He was in the right place at the right time, he felt that Yerry was in a better position. That’s it. He was unlucky it was just some centimetres offside.”

Benitez also commended youngster Anthony Gordon who had a good game along with the rest of the front four, making his first Premier League start of the season on the left.

“The four offensive players – Gordon, it was not easy for him to play in this stadium, Gray, Rondon and Townsend, were working really hard. It’s not just that they have to create something in attack, they have to help the team in defence and with the full-backs going forward.

“It was not easy for Demarai in the last game [victory over Norwich seven days ago] because he was tired but he did well. To play the level he played in this game was impressive… the players up front were fighting.

“Rondon was holding the ball, with the midfielders supporting, and the defenders dealt with Manchester United’s very good players.”