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Venue: Elland Road, Leeds
Premier League
Saturday 21 August 2021; 3:00pm
Leeds Utd
2 2
Klich 41'
Raphinha 72'
Half Time: 1 - 1 
Calvert-Lewin (pen) 30'
Gray 50'
Attendance: 36,293
Fixture 2
Referee: Darren England

Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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  Cooper booked
  Firpo (Shackleton 60')
  Klich (Roberts 60')
  Barmford booked
  Subs not used

  Coleman booked
  Mina booked
  Digne booked
  Doucouré booked
  Iwobi (Townsend 75')
  Gray (Deph 83')
  Calvert-Lewin (Kean 90')
  Subs not used
  Rodriguez (isolating)
  Gomes (isolating)
  Godfrey (isolating)
  Tosun (injured)
  Simms (injured)
  Gibson (loan)
  Virginia (loan pending)

Match Stats

Shots on target

Premier League Scores
Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle
Brighton 2-0 Watford
C Palace 0-0 Brentford
Leeds 2-2 Everton
Liverpool 2-0 Burnley
Man City 5-0 Norwich
Arsenal 0-2 Chelsea
Southampton 1-1 Man United
Wolves 0-1 Tottenham
West Ham 4-1 Leicester

1 West Ham United 6
2 Chelsea 6
2 Liverpool 6
4 Brighton & Hove Albion 6
5 Tottenham Hotspur 6
6 Manchester United 4
7 Everton 4
8 Brentford 4
9 Manchester City 3
10 Aston Villa 3
11 Watford 3
12 Leicester City 3
13 Southampton 1
14 Crystal Palace 1
15 Leeds United 1
16 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
17 Burnley 0
18 Newcastle United 0
19 Arsenal 0
20 Norwich City 0

Match Report

After 18 long months of almost exclusively empty stadia, away days are back. That means a much-anticipated return for thousands of Evertonians to the incomparable experience of travelling the length and breadth of England to cheer on the Blues from packed away ends. It also returns to the players, however, the challenges of playing teams in their own arenas, replete once more with their own raucous, baying faithful and all the noise and intimidation that comes with it.

Everton won 11 times on the road last season in 18 games played in empty grounds (the 19th was at Manchester City in front of 10,000 where they were humiliated in Carlo Ancelotti’s last match in charge); there is almost no way they will win that many this season but they could have repeated the result they achieved at Elland Road earlier this year had Dominic Calvert-Lewin been more clinical at one end and the defence been more resolute at the other.

As it was, Rafael Benitez had to be content with a point, again nothing to be sniffed at in the context of Leeds United’s first Premier League match in front of a full house since 2004, but he and his players will feel disappointed they didn’t come away with all three points.

The travelling Blues will, no doubt, feel the same way but they will have been encouraged by another performance that suggests Benitez’s Everton are a lot more effective going forward than the version that struggled in that respect so often last term under Ancelotti. Calvert-Lewin played despite an ongoing toe problem, scored an excellent penalty but might have put the game beyond Leeds just before the hour mark. Abdoulaye Doucouré again revelled in his more box-to-box role, picking up an assist and almost bagging a stoppage-time winner via a heavy deflection. But it was Demarai Gray who further underlined what a bargain buy he could be by grabbing his first goal for Everton.

If he added nothing else, the former Leicester winger would have been a decent acquisition purely for his pace. Everton had so little of it last season that it felt like mana from Heaven when he arrived over the summer with plenty to prove

for himself but fairly low expectations on the part of the Blues’ faithful. Thankfully, he also adds close control, trickery and an eye for goal which he proved with another superb outing.

If things are looking good in attack — another attacking signing before the transfer deadline feels like an imperative but we’ll have to see what happens — the defence is a cause for concern, particularly without Ben Godfrey who missed a second successive game, presumably because he is isolating in line with Covid-19 protocols.

With Yerry Mina now deemed to be match fit following his late return to training following the Copa America, Benitez deployed the Colombian alongside Michael Keane in place of Mason Holgate as one of two changes to the team that started against Southampton last week. Keane’s error was a potentially damaging cause for concern against the Saints and he had another costly slip this afternoon that will only deepen the yearning for Godfrey’s immediate return.

That would come just before half-time with Everton already a goal to the good having weathered the early storm from Leeds. The Blues had the game’s first chance when Doucouré bounced a shot wide as early as the first minute but the hosts soon assumed control of possession and Raphinha put their first effort on target in the 10th minute while Richarlison’s drive at the end of a purposeful run was charged down at the other end.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men forced a couple of corners off deflected shots from distance but it was the Blues who were making better inroads into the opposition box, with Gray almost finding Calvert-Lewin’s out-stretched boot with a low cross from the right and Lucas Digne then attempting to find the striker near the penalty spot with a delivery from the left.

Calvert-Lewin was visibly tugged back by the shirt by Liam Cooper during the latter incident but it took a trip to the pitch-side monitor by referee Darren England before the penalty and yellow card were eventually awarded.

Calvert-Lewin assumed responsibility for the kick himself and buried it into Illan Meslier’s net to give Everton a 30th-minute lead.

Raphinha tried to bend one around Jordan Pickford shortly afterwards and dragged another effort even further wide in the 40th minute but Everton were pretty comfortable until Keane was caught horribly flat-footed and was unable to cut out a ball aimed at Patrick Bamford which allowed the Leeds striker to race towards goal and set up Mateusz Klich to fire past Pickford and make it 1-1.

Doucouré, alongside Gray Everton’s stand-out performer on the day, tested Meslier with a low drive and Alex Iwobi lashed an ugly half-volley over as the visitors finished the first period the stronger of the two teams.

That continued into the second half which was less than five minutes old when the Blues struck again. Doucouré played a tempting ball into the box to pick out Gray who stepped over it and appeared to have let the chance go begging but, instead, he cut a shot back across the keeper with his left foot and found the inside of far side of the goal.

Keane blocked a goal-bound volley from Raphinha after Calvert-Lewin had forced a save from Meslier as Leeds tried to respond but it was Everton who might have put the match beyond the home side had Calvert-Lewin been more clinical with a sublime through-ball from Iwobi. The pass was perfect for the England man but instead of dinking it over the advancing keeper, he fired straight at Meslier and the chance was lost.

Successive Leeds corners with around 20 minutes to go were cleared but when the second was swung back into the box, Digne and Seamus Coleman got in each other’s way, Bamford was able to lay it back to Raphinha and the Brazilian, who scored in both games against Everton last season, curled an impressive shot around the players in front of him and inside the post to level things up again.

Still, despite Leeds having more of the ball, it was Everton who looked the more likely to win it with Calvert-Lewin making a bit of a mess of a header from Iwobi’s centre and Richarlison going agonisingly close with a bending effort from the edge of the box.

The final chances fell to Doucouré and Keane in injury time but the Frenchman’s shot took a heavy deflection and Elland Road held it’s breath as it bounced past the wrong-footed keeper and wide of his right-hand post. Keane got his head on the resulting corner but could only put it into Meslier’s arms and both sides had to be content with a point.

Again, given the return of supporters and, with them, a truer reflection of the demands of playing away from home, a point was a decent result for Benitez and his men. Leeds were energetic and inventive but, in the final reckoning, failed to cause the Toffees any real problems other than the ones they created for themselves with questionable defending.

The three points eluded Everton but their directness and purpose from an attacking perspective offers hope that this will be a much more productive season than many fans believed possible. Benitez arrived with a reputation among some as a defensive, overly pragmatic coach but the Blues have exhibited a much more positive posture when they have the ball under the Spaniard so far.

Where under Ancelotti, the first instinct was to play the ball sideways and backwards, under Benitez they appear to be encouraged to go forward and, importantly, trust their own ability to do so. That faith in the players has translated into a more pleasing team to watch and with tighter defending at the back and more deadly finishing up front, might have yielded back-to-back wins to start the new season. As it is, an unbeaten start is still a positive and provides a platform from which to further build as the new boss gets his feet under the table.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Everton played a difficult game very well to get ahead twice through a Calvert-Lewin penalty and an excellent finish by Gray only to end up drawing at Elland Road.

Everton are again without James Rodriguez, who was still 'isolating' as a precaution in line with Covid-19 protocols, but Moise Kean was available, despite continuing speculation over the Italian striker's future. Jean-Philippe Gbamin trained with the squad this week and was also named amongst the substitutes as Yerry Mina and Alex Iwobi replaced Mason Holgate and Andros Townsend in the starting line-up.

No live coverage of the game on TV in the UK but the match was screened live in various markets around the world, including on Peacock in the USA (7 am PDT / 10 am EDT).

Elland Road was in celebration mode, awash with yellow flags as the ground welcomed back a full house of fans in the Premier League for the first time in 17 long years.

Everton kicked off, Doucouré with an early shot, weak and wide. And the first exchanges were lively, the ball zipping around on the wet turf, possession hard to maintain. Bamford delivered an early soft-slap to Mina's jaw over some silly side issue, miking the mood of the crowd.

Richarlison was very easily knocked off the ball as the Blues seemed a little rattled by the atmosphere. Richarlison looked to advance with the ball and was again easily robbed by Dallas, ending with almost a shot by Bamford, Keane blocking it.

Third time and Richarlison was deemed to have been fouled but Everton completely wasted the free-kick, delivered long to nobody. Leeds attacked and Raphinha fired in a shot to Pickford. Richarlison then tried a shot for himself but it was blocked.

Richarlsion then dribbled along the Leeds 18-yard line with Gray in support but was crowded out. Leeds attacked and Ayling saw his fierce shot deflected behind for the first corner that Phillips tried to put into the top corner but that too deflected wide for another corner, cleared.

A fantastic pick-up and run saw Gray steaming down the right into the Leeds area and firing his cross 3 feet in front of Calvert-Lewin, who had powered forward strongly but just could not connect. Digne tugged on Raphinha's shirt to give away a cheap free-kick. Allan tried to battle down the left but had no-one to pass to.

Gray switched to the left and put in another testing cross, with Cooper pulling Calvert-Lewin over, resulting in a VAR check for what should be an obvious penalty. Darren England consulted the monitor... and eventually decided that a penalty was the right decision. Dominic Calvert-Lewin finally got the ball and looked suitably determined, firing with the shortest of run-ups past Meslier and into the corner, a very well-taken penalty.

Leeds were livid but only had themselves to blame for an obvious foul, and desperately wanted to respond but Raphinha could only fire wide. The game now looked a little different as Everton sought to frustrate their hosts at every turn. A ridiculous comedy exhibition fight developed between Bamford and Mina, both players getting the yellow card.

Raphinha had another chance and drove this one even further wide of Pickford's goal. Another horrible misjudgement by Keane allowed Bamford to evade Mina and play in Klich who had no trouble in beating Pickford, who dived early to the wrong side, rather than advancing and making himself big. Doucouré forced a save at the other end but Everton were stretched as the corner was cleared. Iwobi got a half-chance that he wellied well wide.

With 6 minutes of added time before the break, the lively tempo of the game was maintained, Everton having all-too meekly surrendered their hard-won initiative. They tried to build an attack but found it just too busy around the Leeds area to make any meaningful progress as the whistle finally blew for half-time.

The home side got things restarted and won an early corner that Everton cleared. Richarlison again had his pocket picked far too easily by Phillips. But then, Iwobi and Doucouré manufactured nothing more than a half-chance for Demarai Gray who slotted a superb finish from a difficult angle. Great goal.

Gray was at it again, switching sides, and feeding Calvert-Lewin who shot a little too close to Meslier, without enough power in the shot to beat him. At the other end, Keane made a huge block to deny Raphinha.

Cooper rather roughly dragged down Calvert-Lewin — very close to another yellow card. Digne delivered the free-kick but too low and behind the Everton line of attack. Richarlison was dispossessed again so easily... But Iwobi slipped a wonderful pass to Calvert-Lewin who seemed not to expect it and could only poke it at the keeper, earning a corner that Digne delivered well into a crowd of Everton players, Richarlison looking the most bemused as it flew high over the Leeds goal.

The key to this game was continuing to break up Leeds's play and frustrate them at every turn. Everton were now controlling the play but another dangerous mistake could never be ruled out. And it was well beyond the time when Richarlison should have been hauled off and replaced by Moise Kean. But Benitez showed little sign of making any changes.

Of course, Richarlison then ran at his marker and won a corner, Digne putting in another low one that did not beat the first defender. Digne, annoyed with a throw-in decision, threw the ball away petulantly and saw an immediate yellow. Keane cleared the throw-in but then Gray had to put it behind for a corner.

Leeds produced more pressure and won another corner that Richarlison headed away. Roberts then fired a wicked cross-shot that Pickford needed to bat behind for another corner. But Leeds kept recycling the ball and Raphinha finally lined one up just right and lashed it through the crowd, curving wickedly into the far corner of Pickford's goal.

Benitez's response was finally to switch Iwobi for Townsend. Richarlison looked tired as he dug out a shot that was always going wide. Dallas went down easily and Coleman was deemed to have kicked the ball away, also for another yellow card.

Leeds now had the bit between their teeth, and Everton were rocking a little, unable to break out as the home side looked for the winner, and Benitez had made no further changes as the game entered the crucial final 10 minutes. Doucouré held on to Rahinha and he too saw yellow. Benitez finally acted to pull off Gray and bring on Delph (seriously?).

Mina had to get across and block a critical shot from Bamford as the pressure on the Everton goal continued. Richarlison again cleared the corner with Raphinha still keen on scoring the winner... At the other end, a good-looking attack ended abruptly with a terrible shot by Coleman.

Calvert-Lewin ran at the Leeds defence but chose to shoot a little too early, Meslier down well to smother it. Moise Kean was indeed the final change made by Benitez, ridiculously in the last minute. Doucouré came close to glory with a shot that spun off Cooper and just outside the post. From the corner, Keane's header was on target but not powerful enough.

A couple of late items were checked for VAR (Keane handball, Delph challenge, Mina with a brilliant defensive header to deny Bamford) and the final whistle blew on a creditable if a little frustrating draw that could and perhaps should have been an Everton win.

Scorers: Klich (41'), Rpahinia (72'); Calvert-Lewin (pen:30'), Gray (50')

Leeds Utd: Meslier, Ayling, Struijk, Cooper [Y:28'], Firpo (60' Shackleton), Phillips, Raphinha, Dallas, Klich (60' Roberts), Harrison, Bamford [Y:37'].
Subs not Used: Forshaw, Klaesson, Helder Costa, Rodrigo, Summerville, Cresswell, Drameh.

Everton: Pickford, Coleman [Y:77'], Keane, Mina [Y:37'], Digne [Y:68'], Doucouré [Y:82'], Allan, Iwobi (75' Townsend), Gray (83' Delph), Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (89' Kean).
Subs not Used: Begovic, Kenny, Holgate, Gbamin, Davies, Branthwaite.

Referee: Darren England
VAR: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 36,293

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

Everton travel to Elland Road today hoping to build on the stirring comeback win over Southampton they achieved in Rafael Benitez's first match in charge.

The Blues recovered from the concession of a first-half goal against the Saints to win 3-1, thanks in large part to an impressive performance from Richarlison, and they will make the trip to Yorkshire in good heart even if they will be short of a full complement of players.

Everton will again be without James Rodriguez, who is still isolating as a precaution in line with Covid-19 protocols, but look set to have Moise Kean available, that despite continuing speculation over the Italian striker's future. Jean-Philippe Gbamin has trained with the squad this week but was rated as doubtful by his manager in Benitez's pre-match press conference.

Benitez stressed that both Kean (who has restored the Everton-related photos he recently removed from Instagram) and James will be part of his plans until 31st August at least and that the former could be called upon if needed before then. It wasn't a definitive statement on the likelihood that either player will still be at the club beyond the deadline and it's unlikely Kean will start even if he is included in the travelling party.

Indeed, it's difficult to see the new boss making many changes to the side that lined up against Southampton, although the uncertain first-half performance from Mason Holgate and Michael Keane — it was the latter's error that gifted the Saints the lead — may prompt him to start Yerry Mina in one of their stead given that the Colombian has had the benefit of another week's training following his return from Copa America duty. Ben Godfrey is believed to still be self-isolating.

Fitness permitting, the rest of the team should be the same and Benitez can draw on Everton's performance at Leeds under his predecessor for inspiration. Back in February, Carlo Ancelotti took his charges to Elland Road and came away with a handsome 2-1 win that went a long way to atoning for what was a poor display in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park the previous November.

Goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin put the Toffees into a 2-0 lead in the second game, enough to earn one of those eleven away victories under the Italian despite Raphinha's goal early in the second half. It was a performance of rare hunger and energy from the 2020-21 edition of Everton, one closer in character to last week's opening-day victory and the best moments from the team's two friendlies in Orlando last month. That bodes well.

Leeds, who finished last season strongly and eventually placed above Everton on goal difference, come into this fixture nursing some wounds from a 5-1 drubbing at Old Trafford in their season-opener. Manchester United ruthlessly exposed some of the defensive frailties that Marcelo Bielsa's side exhibited last term and there was precious little attacking penetration of the kind that saw the Lilywhites announce their return to the top flight with a 5-4 defeat at Anfield in the first match of 2020-21.

Bielsa will be without Diego Llorente but is expected to have Kalvin Phillips available now that he is fully integrated back into Leeds's squad following his post-Euro 2020 break.

Benitez will expect a response from Bielsa's men but will look to exploit all of Leeds's weaknesses at the back while impressing on his own defence to be stronger than was the case last week. A win would provide another injection of belief and momentum into the team as it heads into the final 10 days of the transfer window and the upcoming challenges posed by Huddersfield in the EFL Cup and Brighton at the Amex Stadium beyond that.

No live coverage of the game on TV in the UK but the match will be screened live in various markets around the world, including on Peacock in the USA (7 am PDT / 10 am EDT).

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 21 August 2021
Referee: Darren England
VAR: Kevin Friend

Last Time: Leeds United 1 - 2 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Mina, Keane, Digne, Allan, Doucouré, Townsend, Gray, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin

Lyndon Lloyd

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