It felt like time had stood still for a few seconds as referee Lee Probert brandished the red card in the direction of Richarlison late in the first half of what became another lively, goal-infused encounter between these two teams at Vitality Stadium.
Surely Everton couldn’t have been reduced to 10 men for the second away game in succession and in precisely the same minute of the match? The prospect of another 55-plus minutes of action stretched out ahead in the imagination, thoughts turning to another grind as the Blues dug in to try to avoid defeat and move on to the next home game where they could make amends.
They had indeed suffered the same fate, of course, albeit in somewhat less controversial but no less maddening circumstances. The letter of the law could be said to be similarly clear where both Phil Jagielka’s tackle at Wolves two weeks ago and Richarlison’s tête-à-tête with Adam Smith are concerned. Likewise the intent of the law: to avoid serious injury to players and the elimination of a culture where head-butting players is accepted conduct.
The spirit and application of those laws offer considerably greater leeway for more common-sense refereeing, however, but both Craig Pawson and Probert elected not to apply any judgement of their own. In Richarlison’s case, while the law is quite clear — even if it is increasingly loosely applied, as the World Cup, where a number of head-to-head flare ups went unpunished, showed — he should have known better and he was clearly in violation of it by pushing his head into Smith’s. But you find yourself asking if Probert could have taken a more pragmatic approach, booked the Everton player, told Smith to stop being such a tart for his pathetic reaction, and just got on with the game.
As it turned out, Everton had the wherewithal and the guile to render the dismissal of their star player meaningless by the time 25 minutes of the second half had elapsed. Already a goal to the good, the Blues saw parity of numbers restored when, in a moment of delicious karma, Smith was shown a straight red card of his own in the 61st minute before Michael Keane headed home to make it 2-0.
It felt in that moment like Everton had won a big psychological victory and taken a significant step forward under the new regime. Unfortunately, though, some of the mental and defensive frailties that have dogged them for years still prevail and they would ensure that a hugely important lead was squandered in the space of four minutes later in the half.
As expected from a visit to a ground where the Toffees have yet to record a win in the League, nothing about the game was easy in the first half but Everton had, on the whole, looked the more assured of the two teams even if there were three or four players who never really got going and it was Bournemouth who had the two best chances.
Both were gilt-edged opportunities but, thankfully, Callum Wilson side-footed over after arriving in oceans of space in the Blues’ right-back spot to collect Ryan Fraser’s pass, and Nathan Ake made a mess of a free header six minutes before the interval, the ball bouncing off his shoulder in front of goal when a better contact would surely have beaten the stranded Jordan Pickford.
Everton, for their part, were better in possession but struggled to create opportunities of their own. With three goals in his first two games and one of the clear creative outlets in the Blues’ team, Bournemouth had clearly made nullifying the threat of Richarlison a clear priority. It worked; there were times when the Brazilian was suffocated by three red and black shirts and his inability to provide a reliable outlet had obvious implications for Leighton Baines going forward.
On the other flank, Seamus Coleman was having one of those days. He twice let the ball run under his feet for a throw-in after taking his eyes off it and the propensity he has shown thus far this season to overhit his crosses was still in evidence today. In central midfield, meanwhile, today was a big one for Tom Davies playing in place of the injured Morgan Schneiderlin but it’s fair to say he didn’t grab it with both hands as he was a little disappointing.
The best chance for Silva’s men in the first half fell to Theo Walcott when he latched onto a poor pass in front of his box by Steve Cook but the forward elected not to take the direct route to goal and was eventually crowded out.
Still, Silva was no doubt content that things were going to plan as half-time approached. That was until Richarlison reacted to some verbal sniping from Smith, squared up to the Cherries’ defender and picked up the first red card of his Premier League career for “violent” conduct. He's young and he will need to learn from this, particularly if he continues to pull up trees in the Premier League and becomes a marked man.
As was the case for much of the second half at Molineux, Everton acquitted themselves very well with only 10 men and in one of those moments where you found yourself wondering how a team with an extra man can find themselves so badly exposed at the back, Walcott scampered through to put the Blues 1-0 up.
Gylfi Sigurdsson did well to find the industrious Cenk Tosun, he sent Walcott away down the channel and the former Arsenal man did the rest with a thumping finish past Asmir Begovic from the angle.
Walcott threatened to repeat the feat five minutes later from another of those pin-point missiles forward by Pickford. The No.11 breezed past Smith who extended an arm to check his progress and Walcott crashed to the turf. Probert, citing the denial of an obvious goalscoring opportunity, sent him packing and Baines stepped up to take the resulting free kick. His shot had the accuracy but lacked power and Begovic clawed it away.
Five minutes after that, it was 2-0. Keane, who was in the Bournemouth box for a quickly-taken set-piece that caught the home side napping, was in the right place when Sigurdsson sent a perfect cross into the box and the defender rose highest to power a downward header under the ‘keeper.
That should have been that but Everton failed to really settle the game down and shut up shop and their lead was halved just eight minutes later following a clumsy challenge by Baines on Wilson. The fullback came together with the striker as a cross from the Bournemouth left fell between him and Keane and Wilson, feeling the contact, made the easy decision to crumple to the turf.
The referee pointed to the spot, Pickford guessed the right way but couldn’t reach Josh King’s spot kick that was placed inside the post. Everton had 15 minutes to try and see out the victory but their worrying susceptibility at set-pieces reared its head again just four minutes later.
Wilson got his head to a corner, guiding the ball past Pickford but onto the post and the positioning of the Blues’ defenders all outside the six-yard box meant that three Bournemouth players were queuing up to slot home the rebound. Ake did the honours and it felt then as though the pendulum had swung decisively in the home side’s favour.
Wilson popped up again at another corner a couple of minutes after that before a solid penalty claim at the other end where Tosun appeared to be dragged down by his shirt was waved away by the referee. (An even clearer incident in the first half where Coleman's legs were taken from underneath him was also not given by the officials. What consistency?)
Any momentum the game might have had going into the six minutes of time added for stoppages was largely dissipated by a lengthy delay following a heavy clash of heads between Keane and Idrissa Gueye, the latter coming off the worst as he came to meet a cross from the right and caught his team-mate full on after making the clearance. The centre-back was eventually carried off strapped to a stretcher with his neck in a brace to a pitch-side gurney whereupon he was rushed to hospital.
Yet Sigurdsson would have one last chance to win it for Everton when the space opened up for a shot from 20 yards following Gueye’s intercepting tackle but the Icelandic midfielder’s rising effort cleared the crossbar.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and Everton won’t be rebuilt over the course of a summer, a couple of transfer windows or even a season. There are still plenty of kinks to be worked out, many weeks still of Marco Silva instilling his methods and preferred style of play on the squad, and some maturing and growth to come among some individual players.
Even acknowledging those facts, this was still a hugely disappointing result that felt a bit like a defeat in many respects rather than the draw that we would surely have grudgingly accepted at half time with another 45 minutes of football to come facing a team with a numerical advantage.
That Everton once again took the lead despite being a man down and then went two goals up once the numbers had been evened up makes what followed hard to take. It does feel as though there is so much more to come from a team that is being reconstructed with younger players but, at the same time, it’s difficult not to be frustrated at opportunities like this being squandered.
Still, while there were late glimpses of Bernard and Kurt Zouma as late substitutes, this was, Richarlison aside, still Silva’s version of the badly under-performing team that plodded its way through last season and was so dreadful to watch under three different managers.
An unbeaten start, two away draws and a home victory with three games on the bounce to come at Goodison Park and five of the six new signings hardly having kicked a ball could be considered to be a decent start to the new regime. Fingers crossed we’re at the start of an upward curve and that lessons will be learned from missed chances like these first two away games.
A crazy game on the south coast, with Everton losing Richarlison after a poor first half for a nothing 'head-butt', then scoring two good goals in the second half, with Smith also seeing red, and Bournemouth scoring off a very soft penalty then getting an equalizer inside 4 minutes to tie the game before a massive collision between Gueye and Keane saw the Everton centre-half stretchered off.
Tom Davies started in place of Schneiderlin. New signings Digne, Zouma, and Bernard were on the bench, along with Kieran Dowell. No place for Ademola Lookman, who is expected to leave the club for RB Leipzig. (Kenny and Pennington were playing at Goodison Park today for the U23s, joining Galloway and Browning.)
For Bournemouth, Dan Gosling played in midfield.
Tom Davies kicked off, Everton wearing their third strip of white shirts, black shorts. Richarlison was double-teamed and dispossessed early and it was scrappy stuff while the teams felt eachother out, the home side getting in some early crosses via Fraser that Everton cleared.
Baines had a shot blocked by Cook, then put in a good cross but Tosun's path was closed. Gana played in Walcott who won the first corner, Sigurdsson delivering very well Keane not connecting well enough. Gana landed awkwardly following an aerial challenge.
Everton were pressing forward well, Coleman getting to the byeline and being fouled — not given. Tosun got his foot trodden on as he dallied a little, then had to overstretch.
Everton were starting to string together quick movement and passes with a half-chance created for Tosun that was fired over. Coleman took his eye off the ball and Bournemouth took advantage, Wilson in acres of space, curling his shot over the angle. In the build-up, Fraser went down heavily after a clumsy challenge on Coleman.
Walcott was gifted the ball by Cook, but was far too indecisive, and a glorious chance evaporated. At the other end, a good cross and a header for King at the post inhibited by Coleman's effective challenge.
A really scrappy Bournemouth attack had everyone scrambling but eventually the ball was cleared and Everton resumed their build-up but were having trouble getting Richarlison into the game, while the home side were ready to break but Wilson was offside. Tosun tried a shot from long range that was wide.
Richarlison fell very awkwardly on his lower back, running backwards and challenging for a difficult aerial ball. Coleman thought he'd won a corner; Richarlison finally got a good run behind and he did win a corner, Sigurdsson finding Richarlison but Keane and Walcott got it all wrong at the far post.
Everton were dominating play and trying to work the flanks but it was breaking down a little too early with no clear chance on goal after 30 minutes. Gueye played a nice ball out to Coleman who had plenty of space and time but messed up his cross.
Tosun and Sigurdsson combined, the Icelander whipping in a fantastic ball that was really inviting but Begovic got to it on the stretch. It went a bit flat, with errors creeping in, Geuye giving away a silly free-kick that was a gift for Ake, it coming off his shoulder.
Coleman did well to play in Sigurdsson but the cross went out for a throw-in. Meanwhile, Smith and Richarlison meeting heads off the ball, the slightest of a head flick, and the referee incredibly showed Richarlison the red card!! Utterly astounding!!!
Everton readjusted to a 4-4-1 formation after the break with Tosun now ploughing a lone furrow. A fine cross by Baines should have produced a clear chance but was spurned.
Evertom were pinned back with the man disadvantage, a strange shot almost fooling Pickford after Holgate dummies it. Everton were clearly rattled with little mistakes appearing all over the field. A poor poor yellow picked up by Sigurdsson for a weak pullback after a sloppy giveawy by Davies.
Somehow Sigurdsson got the ball back and slid a brilliant pass to Walcott who scampered off and fired home an excellent strike on the break, the perfect response to the madness developing in this crazy game.
Bournemouth pushed Everton back, but they defened well enough, giving up a corner. Everton broke and Smith was judged to have dragged back Walcott as the last man, but it was in fact very clever by Walcott, making it look far worse than it was. But Red card for Smith.
Baines curled in the free-kick and Everton really should have scored from the follow-up but the contrived to miss the chance, Davies firing well wide. At the other end, King could run into space and lash his shot over the angle with Pickford covering well.
A free-kick and Sigurdsson clipped over a brlliant cross, Keane climbing cvery high to head down and trough Begovic's feet into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead to the visitors.
Wilson got a free run on goal but Pickford stood up well to deny him an almost certain goal, with Hogate closing in. Tosun then got a stupid yellow for a ridiculous challenge from behind with the ball long gone.
A ridiculous penalty awarded against Baines for putting a hand on Wilson's back, the striker collapsing in a heap. King slotting it well beyond Pickford.
More terrible zonal marking saw Ake react first to return Wilson's header off the post and into the net. Gueye gets himself booked for a silly challenge from behind, and Everton were rocking on the ropes after having done so well to get a two-goal lead. Wilson getting a near-post header off the next home corner.
Tosun was dragged down by Cook but no penalty, says Probert, as Marco Silva made his typically late changes after the damage was done, Calvert-Lewin on for Cenk Tosun, then Bernard replacing Walcott for his debut.
Keane and Gueye both went for defensive headers on the same ball, clashing heavily. Keane needed a lot of treatment, with oxygen and a neck brace before he was finally stretchered off as 6 mins of added time turned into 10 before the game restarted, with Kurt Zouma on in his place.
Coleman git in a late cross that Calvert-Lewin almost beat Begovic to. Sigurdsson was gifted a shot from Begovic's poor throwout but opted to blaze over rather than score the winning goal. The final whistle went after 13 minutes of added to time to bring a crazy game to an end.
Scorers: King (pen:75'), Ake (79'); Walcott (56'), Keane (64')
Bournemouth: Begovic, Daniels, Steve Cook, Ake, Smith [R:58'], Fraser, Gosling, Surman (76' Lewis Cook), Brooks (65' Ibe), Wilson, King (90+12' Mousset).
Subs not Used: Boruc, Francis, Lerma, Defoe.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Keane (90+7' Zouma), Baines, Gueye [Y:80'], Davies, Sigurdsson [Y:55'], Walcott (86' Bernard), Richarlison [R:44'], Tosun [Y:69'] (84' Calvert-Lewin).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Digne, Dowell, Niasse.
Everton are on the road again this weekend as they travel to the south coast to face Bournemouth in their third game of the season.
Buoyed by Marco Silva's first win as manager over the Cherries' near neighbours last weekend at Goodison Park, the Blues will be looking to register their first away victory of the campaign in what is, on the face of it, a tricky but winnable fixture.
Assessing just how tricky Bournemouth could potentially be, however, isn't always straightforward and that is especially true this time. Unlike last December when they were struggling and in danger of being sucked into a protracted battle against relegation, Eddie Howe's team sit third in the Premier League, albeit after just two matches (remember when they didn't use to publish the standings until after the third game?), with two victories.
The first was against newly-promoted Cardiff, however, a side that, due to the realities of the modern-day Premier League, will be among the favourites to go down again this season, while the second was at West Ham, who are the stand-out candidate to “do an Everton” and fail spectacularly having spent a boat-load of players over the summer.
It's too soon, of course, to really judge the Hammers, of course, even if they do look to be very soft-centred and there is something to be said for the fact that Bournemouth came back from a goal down to win at the London Stadium. It's that stick-to-it-iveness that they can display that often makes them so unpredictable.
Everton found that out to their cost at Dean Court before in Roberto Martinez's last season in charge, while both Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce suffered ignominious defeats to the Cherries on the south coast. Regardless of the home team's prior form, Bournemouth away is often not an easy fixture but Howe's commitment to open, passing football means that there are ways to beat them and in the likes of Richarlison, Marco Silva might just have the tools to dismantle them.
The Brazilian goes in search of more goals to add to his brilliant start to life with the Toffees, having displayed his versatility and potency with strikes from a set-piece, a wonderful piece of individual inspiration and in front of goal from a cross. On the other flank, Theo Walcott got off the mark last weekend against Southampton and he would have bagged a brace with more careful finishing in the second half of the 2-1 win at Goodison Park.
Together with Richarlison, the ceaseless work-rate of Cenk Tosun and the combination of pressing and distribution of Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton have an attacking unit that looks potent again after being almost completely toothless at times under Allardyce just a few months ago.
That is without the exciting prospect of seeing Bernard added to the equation. The Blues' other Brazilian summer signing is getting close to match fitness and Silva intimated in his pre-match press conference that a decision on whether or not to include him in the squad would be made late. If he were to make an appearance, it would likely be off the bench but, again, Everton have shown enough going forward that Silva can take his time before introducing the new man if need be.
The manager will have to make one change from the team that started against the Saints, however. Morgan Schneiderlin, who was forced off after 23 minutes of last week's game with a muscle problem, is ruled out of this one, meaning that Tom Davies is likely to be called upon to deputise again.
The young midfielder was the one to replace the Frenchman last Saturday and while Sigurdsson is capable of dropping back into a deeper role that would require Idrissa Gueye to assume fully defensive-midfield responsibilities, Davies is probably the safer bet to assure the minimum of disruption.
At the back, Kurt Zouma and Lucas Digne are available but are likely to be named among the substitutes, again for the sake of continuity, but the incumbent partnership of Michael Keane and Mason Holgate are unlikely to be given an easy ride by Callum Wilson who has pace and loves to run the channels.
With it's tight confines, small capacity and, by consequence, smaller than usual away support, Vitality Stadium can be an awkward place to go so this game has the feel of one that, if Everton can win, it will feel like another real boost to this fledgeling season.
It's the kind of game that teams with designs on the top six should be winning and the evidence thus far suggests that they have now have the organisation, cohesiveness and attacking potency to achieve it if they can keep things tight at the back.
Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 25 August, 2018
Referee: Lee Probert
Last Time: Bournemouth 2-1 Everton
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Keane, Baines, Gueye, Davies, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Tosun