Garnacho’s sensational overhead kick stuns protesting Everton fans and helps Man United earn 3-0 win

Manchester United needed to produce something extraordinary to quieten a home crowd at Goodison Park seething with anger and resentment.

Alejandro Garnacho did just that by scoring one of the greatest goals ever seen in the Premier League.

Leaping high in the air with his back to goal, the 19-year-old Argentina winger produced a spectacular bicycle kick from 15 yards (meters) that sent the ball flying into the top corner and — if only briefly — muted tens of thousands of protesting Everton fans.

“A goal like this has to silence the crowd — even this Everton crowd,” United captain Bruno Fernandes said.

The outrageous third-minute strike set United on course for a 3-0 win over Everton but the score will not be the thing people remember from this fiery, volatile occasion on Merseyside.

The match was played to a backdrop of protests by Everton supporters furious at what they perceived to be an over-the-top sanction — a record 10-point points deduction — for financial mismanagement issued by a disciplinary commission last week.

This was the first game since that punishment and Everton fans marched in their thousands to the stadium, holding up pink cards featuring the word “corrupt” and the logo of the Premier League, and chanting “We shall not be moved.”

On one huge banner read the message: “Where there is power, greed and money … there is corruption.”

The protests continued inside the stadium and it was into this cauldron that United’s players walked, ahead of what would be a real test of character for Erik ten Hag’s team.

Garnacho’s goal was crucial in dampening the atmosphere somewhat, even if those pink cards stayed aloft for much of the game and there was a huge chant in the 10th minute — marking the 10 points docked — accusing the league of corruption.

“It changed the feel of the early part of the game,” Everton manager Sean Dyche said of Garnacho’s goal.

Marcus Rashford — from the penalty spot — and Anthony Martial added more goals in the second half for United, which has won five of its last six Premier League games and is six points behind leader Arsenal after 13 games.

Everton, hit by the points deduction, is in next-to-last place and above Burnley only on goal difference. The team is now five points from safety and potentially destined for another season fighting relegation after only preserving its 69-year top-flight status on the final day of the 2022-23 campaign.

“The signs were there today showing how we’ll fight for this club,” Everton defender James Tarkowski said, “and we’ll continue to do that.”

TOTTENHAM IMPLODING

Not so long ago, Tottenham was top of the league and playing such good soccer under Ange Postecoglou that there was talk of a potential challenge for the title.

Three straight losses later and injury-hit Spurs’ campaign is in danger of unravelling.

A 2-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa on Sunday saw Tottenham squander another 1-0 lead, suffer another injury to a key player and raise concerns about the squad’s depth and ability to sustain a bid for Champions League qualification this season.

Ollie Watkins’ seventh goal of the season won the game in the 61st minute for Villa, which climbed to fourth place and just two points off leader Arsenal in a bunched-up summit of the standings after 13 games.

Giovani Lo Celso lashed in a deflected shot from the edge of the area for the opening goal for Tottenham in the 22nd, only for Pau Torres to head in an equalizer from Douglas Luiz’s free kick.

Rodrigo Bentancur, making his first start for Tottenham after eight months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, was forced off midway through the first half after a foul by Matty Cash. He returns to an injury list already containing Micky van de Ven, James Maddison and Richarlison while suspended center back Cristian Romero will still be missing when Tottenham travels to Man City next weekend.

The win lifted Villa above Tottenham, which dropped to fifth place having lost its previous matches to Wolverhampton and Chelsea.

VENABLES TRIBUTES

There was a minute’s applause ahead of the Tottenham-Villa game and both sets of players wore black armbands as a tribute to Terry Venables, the former England and Tottenham coach whose death was announced Sunday. He was 80.

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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