Veteran midfielder Michael Carrick insists Manchester United can still target a top four finish despite being plagued by poor home form this season.
With Saturday’s goalless stalemate against West Brom fresh in the mind, things looked set to get even worse at Old Trafford as Jose Mourinho’s men trailed Everton 1-0 through Phil Jagielka’s hooked first-half effort.
United struggled to find an equaliser, but in stoppage time Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted a penalty to earn a 1-1 draw.
The overriding emotion was relief after the Red Devils extended their unbeaten Premier League run to a 20th match – albeit half of those have been draws, meaning they face a fight for the top four.
Europa League glory offers another route to the Champions League, but Carrick has not given up on securing a return to European football’s top table through the league.
“I see it as two points dropped,” Carrick said. “It’s not easy when it’s not going well, especially after Saturday, but the boys kept trying.
“They kept going and kept going and obviously gave us that goal to give us the point. It’s a point but it’s nowhere near enough.
“You can’t give up on anything and results can go funny ways sometimes.
“We’re obviously giving ourselves the tougher task, but we’re not giving up.”
If results go against United on Wednesday, they could enter the weekend in sixth place and as many as seven points off a Champions League berth.
Things would have been much different had Mourinho’s side managed to turn dominance into goals, especially at home, where their 21-goal haul is the same as relegation-threatened Hull and Swansea.
“We just can’t find a way to find that first goal and to break teams down and make it easier for us,” Carrick told MUTV.
“Obviously, it’s something you look at and you try to improve on and it’s not just an easy thing you can try and just switch on. I’m sure we’ll get there. I’m sure we’ll improve.
“Generally, the performances have been very good at home. I think it probably wasn’t so good (on Tuesday night) but I thought the lads showed character to keep trying things.
“In the end, we got a goal but, yes, it’s not enough.”
It was not only United players left disappointed, with defender Mason Holgate among the Everton players reeling from the late leveller at Old Trafford.
“Of course, it’s disappointing at the end of the game,” the 20-year-old told evertontv. “We felt like we could have taken all three points and it definitely feels like a case of two points dropped.
“It’s always difficult coming away to Old Trafford, but we sat back a bit in the second half and let them bring the game to us.
“We’re a bit disappointed with that because, of course, we would have liked to keep the momentum going forward.
“With that said, I think we showed great team spirit to put in a performance like that after Saturday (3-1 Merseyside derby defeat at Liverpool).
“We showed that throughout the second half to hold out until the penalty – and we’ve come away disappointed at the end.
“The games are coming thick and fast, so we’ll get ourselves back in training and ready to go again against Leicester on Sunday.”