Captain Coleman wins it with a bolt from the blue

18/02/2023 comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 0 Leeds

Seamus Coleman's first goal since this fixture a year ago proved to be the difference in this relegation "six-pointer" against Leeds

Sean Dyche registered his second successive home win as Everton manager and the Blues lifted themselves out of the bottom three thanks to Seamus Coleman’s stunning second-half strike.

The veteran Irishman scored the opener in this fixture a year ago and this time he surprised Illan Meslier by hooking the ball into the goal from an improbable angle on the right side of the penalty area.

Everton were the better side on the day but frequently let themselves down in final third, although Meslier had to be at his best to deny James Tarkowski a first-half opener from a corner, Max Wöber headed out from under his own bar from Conor Coady, Weston McKennie cleared a Neal Maupay header off the line, and Abdoulaye Doucouré made a mess of a gilt-edged chance to put the game to bed at the end.

Leeds, for their part, failed to unduly test Jordan Pickford in the Blues’ goal despite being giffed a number of chances to put the hosts’ back line under pressure in the latter stages of the game.

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With Dominic Calvert-Lewin still out with a hamstring problem, Maupay was preferred to Ellis Sims up front and while Everton did employ plenty of direct balls forward, it was their passing through midfield and attempts to get the ball in quickly from the flanks that seemed the most likely avenue to a goal in the first half.

Nevertheless, it was Maupay’s presence challenging for a ball forward that saw the ball break to Amadou Onana but the Belgian spurned a decent opening by dragging a weak shot well off target in the fifth minute.

Vitalii Mykolenko went down in the box amid vain appeals for a penalty in the 18th minute and a mistake by Meslier three minutes later when he dropped the ball on the 18-yard line should have been punished but Dwight McNeil elected not to shoot and Onana was robbed of the ball as he tried to engineer space for an effort his own from 10 yards out.

Idrissa Gueye then popped up on the right flank where he collected a pass from Alex Iwobi and cut it back for Onana but the midfielder skied a first-time shot into the Park End. And when McNeil curled a corner to the back post eight minutes before half-time, Tarkowski looked to replicate his goalscoring feat against Arsenal a fortnight ago but Meslier was equal to his header, batting it away from the top corner with two hands.

A skirmish on the touchline then erupted as McNeil and Tyler Adams squared up to each other and melée ensured that saw the Everton winger shoved into the advertising hoardings but a couple of yellow cards for each team was the only result.

Leeds, meanwhile, had seen their best chance passed up by Bamford who air-kicked a cross by McKennie, managed their only effort on goal in first-half stoppage time as Crysencio Summerville headed narrowly over Pickford’s crossbar.

The visitors were markedly better after the break but it was Everton who continued to carve out the better openings, their lack of an efferctive striker and reliable creative presence in forward areas painfully evident.

McNeil tried a cushioned volley that ended up being a pass that eluded Maupay in the box five minutes after the restart, the Frenchman failed to work the goalkeeper with a shot on the turn eight minutes later and Mykolenko had another effort comfortably saved before Coleman broke the deadlock in stunning fashion.

Iwobi chipped the ball over the last defender down the right flank to find the skipper’s run and with no blue shirts gambling in the centre, Coleman appeared to chance his luck by going for goal, the ball arrowing behind the keeper and inside the far post to light up what had been a nervy Goodison Park.

Tarkowski met a McNeil corner with a near-post run but couldn’t keep the ball down while Onana was forced off with a knock with 17 minutes to go and Everton began to be pegged back by an increasingly desperate Leeds side.

Jack Harrison wasted two promising set-piece opportunities, however, by depositing the ball straight out of play on both occasions and the Yorkshiremen weren’t able to muster a decent goalscoring chance while Everton really should have killed the game in the 88th minute.

Ellis Simms, on for Maupay, did superbly to loft the ball over the top for Doucouré to gallop towards the Leeds box but rather than gamble with a left-foot shot, he tried to bring it back into his right and it ended up getting caught under his feet and it was hacked clear.

Then Doucouré cut the ball back from the right for substitute Tom Davies but his shot was blocked and Gueye volleyed the rebound wide before referee Andy Madley blew for full-time after four minutes of added time.

Though there were wins for all three teams that had begun the day in the bottom three of the Premier League for the first time in eight years, the win vaults the Toffees out of the relegation zone and into 16th place with another home game to come next weekend against Aston Villa.


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