Blues put Champions to the sword

By Michael Kenrick 09/04/2017  124 Comments  [Jump to last]

Romelu Lukaku surges ahead as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals this season
Everton 4 - 2 Leicester City

A crazy goalfest in the first half at Goodison Park began inside the first minute as Everton took the game to the reigning Premier League Champions.

Morgan Schneiderlin was back in the starting XI after recovering from a calf strain while Matthew Pennington started at centre-half in place of Ashley Williams who was suspended after picking up a red card in the final minute at Old Trafford. Kevin Mirallas also started.

The visitors kicked off but from a deep throw-in, Mirallas scampered up the field and the ball ran to Tom Davies as Mirallas was fouled on the edge of the area and Davies beat two defenders and Schmeichel to bury it inside 31 seconds. Brilliant! – and very good advantage played by referee Robert Madley.

Mirallas was next to come close but the attack broke down and the Foxes tore through the entire Everton midfield and defense, Slimania in acres of space with time to slide it through Robles and into the Gwladys Street net. Crazy defending!

Everton continued to press, undaunted by the vim and vigour of their opponents who were keen to deny them much space, Pennington getting himself into trouble against Vardy, and giving up a free-kick that was converted brilliantly by Albrighton. A cross perhaps mis-hit, and definitely misread by Robles.

Everton won a corner taken by Mirallas that pinged all round the Leicester box, Davies's shot blocked and Mirallas's cross over-hit... like Gana's awful forward ball. At the other end, Robles had to save from Gray with his feet and the Blues reverted to slower, more considered build-up that came to nought.

Dreadfully laboured possession football ensued that went precisely nowhere, Lukaku finishing it by passing the ball behind for a goal kick. But it was much crisper with the next attack, Barkley swinging in an absolute peach from the touchline and it was simple for Lukaku to convert, nodding past Schmeichel.

Davies was so alert, knew exactly where he was playing the ball before it was passed to him — a contrast to Barkley's occasional hesitations. Mirallas and Huth had a set-to, for what looked like an attempted stamp, both earning yellows.

The home side tried to play through the middle with intricate passing that was destined to break down. They reverted to the wing, where Holgate was fouled by Slimani as he set to cross. Barkley cut it back from the byeline with a low drive but it was intercepted.

The Foxes won a corner at the other end that Mirallas hoofed up field but of course all 11 blue shirts were in their own penalty area; advantage lost. Barkley tried for once to shoot from outside the area but gave his marker too much sight of the ball. Lukaku then beat Chilwell but spooned his shot well over.

Barkley set up Gueye for a shot that was deflected wide for a corner that was cleared but came straight back for Barkley who had the easiest of jobs to go around Schmeichel and slot home — only for a desperate outstretched arm from the keeper that he failed to anticipate as it was pushed past the post. But the corner was delivered superbly with pace and swing and accuracy from Mirallas and headed home brilliantly by Jagielka, skipping around to position himself perfectly for it at the far post.

Baines was a little too aggressive again and gave up a dangerous free-kick while picking up a yellow card, leading to another Leicester corner that Lukaku cleared before the break.

The game restarted and Lukaku played a nice back-heel that Barkley looked to profit from but he was closed down before he could shoot. Slimani got forward on the break, his shot deflected into the side netting, Huth then handling the corner.

Holgate was a little too keen to hoof the ball forward aimlessly, which did not help matters as they looked too open on the turnovers. It was lively stuff in midfield, however; both sides keen not to surrender the sixth goal. Would that be influenced by the introduction of Riyad Marhez? Not before Mirallas won a smart corner, driven home at the far post by Romelu Lukaku, now on 23 goals!

Barkley tried to pick out Lukaku with a good forward ball but Schmeichel was out too quickly. Madley was playing advantage again, letting a poor foul by King on Gueye seemingly go before he did finally show him the yellow card when there was a break in play, but the crime had been committed for many unforgiving Blues fans.

Barkley and Lukaku looked to combine well into the Foxes area but Chilwell was in smartly to challenge. The Blues were controlling the game as Barry replaced Schneiderlin, who had brought exceptional solidity to the middle of the park.

Everton were conceding possession to the visitors, who nevertheless were having little success getting into the Everton penalty area. Musa won a corner before Ulloa came on for Albrighton. Mahrez delivered a superb corner that Ulloa headed straight at Gueye and away. But Barkley fouled Mahrez rather poorly, setting up another chance for the visitors, who kept probing away.

But Everton had been comfortably in control since Lukaku's second goal and were determined to play the rest of the game out without further incident. But it needed a brilliant goal-line clearance from Jagielka to prevent Musa from scoring after Robles had blocked a point-blank header from Ulloa.

It ended in a fine victory by the Blues over the reigning Champions, and the first loss for their new manager, Craig Shakespeare.

Scorers: Davies (1'), Lukaku (23', 58'), Jagielka (45'); Slimami (4'), Albrighton (10').

Everton: Robles, Holgate, Pennington, Jagielka, Baines [Y:45'], Schneiderlin (73' Barry), Gueye, Davies, Barkley, Mirallas [Y:28'], Lukaku.
Subs: Stekelenburg, Kenny, J Williams, Lookman, Valencia, Calvert-Lewin.

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Amartey, Benalouane, Huth [Y:28'], Chilwell; Albrighton (78' Ulloa), King [Y:64'], Drinkwater, Gray (61' Mahrez); Slimani, Vardy (61' Musa).
Subs not Used: Zieler, Kupustka, Simpson, Wasilewski.

Referee: Robert Madley

Attendance: 39,572

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