Cup dreams ended as Everton fall at the first hurdle

Saturday 7 January 2017  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton 1 - 2 Leicester City

Ronald Koeman was not impressed with the manner in which his players dropped back after going 1-0 up
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Everton were dumped out of a second cup competition on their home turf this season as Leicester City hit back from going a goal down to win 2-1.

The Blues had largely dominated this FA Cup third round tie for an hour and finally made the breakthrough against a defensively-minded Foxes side when substitute Gerard Deulofeu set up Romelu Lukaku to open the scoring.

Ahmed Musa, an introduction from the bench himself, had Leicester level within three minutes, however, as Everton lost their concentration and, five minutes later, the Nigerian fired home what would prove to be the winner.

With Idrissa Gueye on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations and both James McCarthy and Aaron Lennon missing through injury, Ronald Koeman made changes to the side that had started against Southampton last Monday.

Gareth Barry returned in midfield to partner Tom Davies in the centre while Mason Holgate was deployed at right back and Seamus Coleman pushed forward into right midfield. Enner Valencia was also recalled following his exploits off the bench against the Saints.

For their part, Leicester were without three of their biggest stars in the form of Jamie Vardy and AFCoN-bound Islam Slimani and Riyad Mahrez and they settled into a counter-attacking posture from the off that allowed Everton the bulk of possession for much of the contest.

They struggled to create meaningful chances, however, despite having the Foxes penned into their own half at times, the final ball letting them down in promising positions.

Valencia shot wide from Barry's knockdown while Lukaku went closest in the first half with a close-range header that just missed following great work by the Ecuadorian.

Koeman altered his formation at half-time, withdrawing Holgate, pulling Coleman back to his familiar right-back position and introduced Deulofeu and after Danny Simpson had blasted over and Wes Morgan had headed straight at Joel Robles, the Spanish winger engineered the long-awaited breakthrough.

Accelerating to the byline in the 63rd minute, he whipped a cross to Lukaku who couldn't miss in front of goal.

While Everton sat back, Leicester responded immediately and after Demarai Gray had broken away, Musa eventually scrambled the ball home to make it 1-1.

Kevin Mirallas came on for Valencia and had an effort parried away by Schmeichel but Musa struck again in the 71st minute, his pace causing all sorts of problems before he banged home to make it 2-1.

Koeman took Ross Barkley off and threw Arouna Kone on but apart from one great Mirallas shot that Schmeichel tipped behind, the Blues couldn't muster the invention or pressure to force home an equaliser of their own and rescue the tie.

The dismal defeat against a team they handily beat away just two weeks ago postpones hopes for an end to Everton's trophy drought for yet another year following the disappointingly early exit from the EFL Cup last September. It forces Koeman to now put all his focus on trying to close the gap between the Toffees and the top six in the Premier League between now and mid-May.

More immediately, attention is sharpened on the January transfer window and the reinforcements that are needed to address what this result appears to say about the quality and depth of the Dutchman's squad.

Full details: ToffeeWeb match page

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