Cavani and Man Utd ride their luck as Everton left floored in VAR’s absence

Yes, he might have been sent packing early had VAR not been excused duty in this particular competition.

There was probably an element of provocation but grabbing an opposition defender by the throat does not normally go down well at Stockley Park.

And Edinson Cavani was certainly fortunate the real-time referee, Andrew Madley, did not deem the Uruguayan’s part in a minor spat with Yerry Mina as violent conduct.

But there was no injustice about this result, no role for fortune in the outcome.

United were comfortably better and Cavani, strictly in a footballing sense, a class act epitomised by the late left-foot finish that sent United towards the semi-finals.

Cavani fires home the opener

And Cavani’s performance here was a reminder of the riches Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has at his disposal.

The assist for Cavani’s hit was made by Anthony Martial, who then scored a breakaway second with the last kick of proceedings.

Martial, along with Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw, had come on during the second half.

And there is United’s strength in depth.

Solskjaer was able to make nine changes from his Leeds-bashing eleven and could still not be accused of taking the tie or the competition lightly.

On the other hand, Carlo Ancelotti sent out what looked like a Premier League starting line-up.

With United engaged at Leicester City at Boxing Day lunchtime, it was a pragmatic move from Solskjaer but the quality throughout his squad is undeniable.

Three United players made a bee-line for Ancelotti before kick-off, warmly shaking him by the hand.

Paul Pogba, Cavani and Nemanja Matic – three players not guaranteed a starting place at Old Trafford.

Cavani celebrates his strike

Ancelotti would love those sort of options and by the time Farhad Moshiri has finished spending, he might have.

But for now, Everton are always going to have a real fight against the very top teams.

So it proved here.

Throughout an uneven first half, United – with Pogba and Bruno Fernandes particularly instrumental – seemed to slip through at will.

The only surprise was that, after the display of finishing at the weekend, it took them so long to make a breakthrough.

The different personnel had not been watching and learning, clearly.

Headers from Mason Greenwood and Pogba kissed the post and landed in Robin Olsen’s midriff respectively and the Swedish keeper made a decent double save from Cavani.

Pogba and Solskjaer at full-time

You know if Cavani was starting game in, game out, he would be prolific.

But he just seemed a little over-anxious in the opening exchanges, although he did try his luck from 45 yards, which tells you of a player who is never going too be short of confidence.

And never short of a combative moment, hence the tangle with Mina in the second half.

There were Everton complaints at the time and Solskjaer will no doubt have a quiet word with his experienced striker to try and ensure there is no repeat in the Premier League.

Edinson Cavani of Manchester United and Yerry Mina of Everton react

But Cavani and Mina’s disagreement was a trivial coming-together compared to the collision that ended Richarlison’s night.

A nudge from Bruno Fernandes and a flying, reckless challenge from Eric Bailly that concussed the Brazilian.

It was obviously not malicious but there was obvious danger in the United pincer movement and when he finally left the field – probably unadvisedly on foot – Richarlison could not walk in a straight line.

Along with the apparent fortune of Cavani’s let-off, that certainly riled the small contingent of home fans and the Everton players.

But thanks to that man Cavani’s class, any sense of injustice, however misguided, was not enough to see Everton through.

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