02/09/2023 0comments  |  Jump to last
Sheffield Utd 2 - 2 Everton

Arnaut Danjuma's second goal in four days earned Everton a 2-2 draw in another game Sean Dyche will feel his side should have won

Everton finally got off the mark with their first goals and point of the Premier League campaign but it took a brilliant save from Jordan Pickford deep into bafflingly long stoppage time to ensure that the Blues left Bramall Lane with a 2-2 draw.

Sean Dyche’s men had given up the first-half lead given to them by Abdoulaye Doucouré and went into the half-time interval 2-1 down to Sheffield United thanks to what was, at times, their cavernous midfield and sloppy defending but Arnaut Danjuma’s second goal in four days was enough to salvage a point.

Beto made his full debut and impressed leading the line but Dyche will rue some missed opportunities in the first period and be angered by the refusal by the horrendous Andy Madley and Video Assistant Referee Simon Hooper to award Everton a second-half penalty.

The manager had no more new faces added to his squad before last night’s transfer deadline but he was at least able to name Dwight McNeil as a substitute for the first time this season following his return from injury.

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Jarrad Branthwaite, James Tarkowski, Ashley Young and Idrissa Gueye returned to the line-up after either being rested or only used off the bench for the Carabao Cup tie at Doncaster Rovers in midweek and the Blues made a spirited start.

However, it was the Blades who had the first chances when John Egan’s back-post header was saved and an awful pass by Danjuma was intercepted and Tarkowski had to make an excellent saving tackle to deny Cameron Archer.

Everton’s first real chance eventually yielded the opening goal with a quarter of an hour gone. Beto’s shot deflected wide off Jack Robinson’s arm and, on another day, might have yielded a penalty but the referee only awarded a corner.

Young drove the resulting set-piece to the back post, Amadou Onana headed it down and though Wes Foderingham got a hand to the ball after it had bounced off Doucoure’s knee, he could only palm it back to the midfielder who knocked it home.

Three minutes later, it really should have been 2-0 as Everton raced away in a four-on-two breakaway but Danjuma elected not to square it to a team-mate, went for goal himself and Egan got a crucial block to divert the ball wide of goal.

Another dreadful cross-field pass, this time by Gueye, was cut out but Pickford was on hand to save, as he was a minute later with a superb one-handed stop at his near post to turn Gustavo Hamer’s effort behind.

At the other end, Danjuma profited from an error by Robinson but shanked a left-foot shot wide and four minutes later the visitors were pegged back. A cross was allowed to come in from the right by Onana, it fell invitingly to Oliver McBurnie with his back to goal who laid it off for Archer to sweep wide of Pickford and bulge the net.

Beto forced a corner trying to squeeze a shot inside the post from a seemingly impossible angle in the 36th minute and eight minutes after that, the powerful striker played Danjuma in behind the full-back but the Dutchman’s heavy touch took it into the keeper’s arms, spurning a great chance to retake the lead.

It would prove costly because two minutes into first-half stoppage time, Sheffield United took the lead. Just as they were at Villa Park a fortnight ago, Everton were opened up all too easily down the middle where Hamer hooked the ball over his shoulder to Archer who bent a shot that rattled off the post and bounced back into the goal off the unwitting Pickford’s head.

Everton responded to their dual set-back well when the teams came back out for the second half and Beto romped away immediately after the restart but dragged a left-foot shot well wide of goal.

The Portuguese then found Danjuma with a sumptuous back-heel that allowed the latter to drive towards the box where his progress was stopped by a visible pull on the shoulder by Anel Ahmedhodzic that appeared to carry on into the box. Madley only awarded a foul on the edge of the box, though, and Hooper failed to recommend the penalty that the rules state should have been given and Danjuma could only drive the free-kick into the defensive wall.

Another potential spot-kick went un-awarded a few minutes later when Branthwaite’s shirt was practically pulled over his head by his marker and Beto’s header dropped wide but Everton were level again soon afterwards.

Beto laid off a forward pass to Nathan Patterson and the Scot delivered a teasing first-time cross to the back stick where Danjuma arrived to deftly convert from close range.

Doucouré had a tame shot easily saved and Young fired a direct free-kick straight at Foderingham at one end while Patterson got away with a poor clearance straight to Lanoucie when he skied a shot into the stand and Pickford was in the right place to repel Luke Thomas’s volley at the back post.

McNeil replaced James Garner with a quarter of an hour to go but Everton had largely run out of steam and ideas by this stage and it was the home side who carried the greater threat in the closing stages.

Tarkowski was forced off after taking a shot full in the face at close quarters to be replaced by Ben Godfrey but a succession of dead-balls launched into the Toffees’ area seemed to have been dealt with as the game dragged three minutes past the five originally signalled by the fourth official.

That gave the Blades one more chance to swing in a corner from their right that McBurnie with a firm downward header that was heading for the back of the net before Pickford reacted superbly to first push it onto the crossbar, then deny McBurnie from the rebound with his head while prostrate on the ground and then pounce gratefully on the loose ball.

The result represents what may prove to be a valuable point for Everton and there were plenty of encouraging signs from an attacking standpoint but the Blues remain worryingly vulnerable from a defensive standpoint, an area on which Dyche will need to work during the international break before the visit of Arsenal in two weeks’ time.


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