Everton were turfed out of the FA Cup by Championship side Millwall amid fury at an obvious handball goal and familiar frustrations over the team's inability to defend set-pieces.
Marco Silva's side twice led in a tie played in sodden conditions at The Den and occasionally torrential rain but squandered their advantage within a minute or so on both occasions before one more silly foul handed the Londoners the chance to win the tie from a free kick.
Silva and Everton will be livid that Jake Cooper's controversial goal that levelled the contest at 2-2 was allowed the stand — despite this being a televised match, the Football Association elected not to employ Video Assistant Referee technology — but it couldn't mask the Blues' attacking shortcomings and their galling weakness defending high balls into the box.
An unsurprisingly poor game didn't see its first shot on target until the 43rd minute when Richarlison gave Everton the lead. Dominic Calvert-Lewin had glanced an early header wide from Seamus Coleman's cross and Richarlison had missed his kick trying to convert another centre from the Irishman as Silva's men struggled to get anything going in the final third.
That changed when André Gomes's pass found Richarlison with space to shoot from outside the area and his slightly deflected shot squirmed under goalkeeper Jordan Archer with two minutes left of the regulation 45 in the first half.
Millwall were level less than two minutes later, though. Everton failed to deal with a free kick, Cooper nodded forward for Lee Gregory and the striker looped a header over Jordan Pickford and into the net.
Everton were better in parts in the second half but had only a scuffed Sigurdsson shot to show for their efforts before Calvert-Lewin was withdrawn in favour of Cenk Tosun with 25 minutes to go.
The Turk had been on the field for seven minutes before he notched his third goal of the season. Sigurdsson played him in between two defenders and Tosun tucked his shot inside the far post to make it 2-1.
A sloppy free-kick conceded by Lucas Digne set the home side up for an immediate reply, however. Everton's defence were easily beaten in the air again and though Pickford saved the first shot well, the rebound hit Cooper on the arm and bounced over the line. Referee Michael Oliver consulted his assistant to confirm the decision and the goal stood despite Everton's vociferous protests.
Ademola Lookman was taken off in favour of Theo Walcott with 11 minutes left but the Blues' attacking efforts bore little fruit and they were heading for a replay until another ill-advised transgression in a dangerous area by Digne led to a stoppage-time winner.
Once again, Millwall prevailed as the ball was swung in, there were more blue jerseys than visiting white in the six-yard box for the second ball and Murray Wallace pounced to consign Everton's Wembley hopes to the bin for another year.
Silva will point to the injustice of the second goal but the problems in all areas of the pitch that show no signs of abating were what lay behind a performance that yielded just three shots on target and precious little of the control that would be expected of a Premier League side playing against lower-division opposition.
The painful defeat effectively ends Everton's season in late January and increases the scrutiny of the manager and a number of the Blues' expensive but under-performing players.
Everton were denied a victory, or at least a replay, after Millwall's second equalizer went in off Cooper's arm that would have been disallowed with VAR, and thus fail to take their place in the 5th Round of the FA Cup.
Marco Silva has named a strong line-up with just two changes: Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Yerry Mina come in; Bernard and Kurt Zouma are on the bench. Calvert-Lewin leads the line, with Richarlison dropped back to the left side, Lookman on the right.
No place for Leighton Baines, who is on the bench with Walcott and Tosun; Jagielka is injured and James McCarthy is not match fit.
For Millwall, who sit 19th in the Championship table, Tom Bradshaw, Tom Elliott, Ben Amos and Conor McLaughlin are all injured, while midfielders Ben Marshall and Ben Thompson are both cup-tied and cannot play.
Millwall got things underway in the pouring rain, Everton wearing white tops and dark blue shorts. Gueye was tackled by Williams. Coleman got a decent cross in from the right that just evaded Calvert-Lewin. Digne's long throw-ins won Everton's first corner, over Keane, who was being held by the neck, and Millwall could break upfield.
A good chance for Millwall from a free-kick, the ball won but headed behind by Cooper. At the other end, a great cross by Coleman and Richarlison with a horrible airshot completely misses the ball. Terrible!
Lookma and Coleman combined well down the right but the cross was surrendered too easily by Calvert-Lewin.On the other side, a great Digne cross bounced harmlessly away past the far post, no-one attacking it.
Coleman again, for the third time, put in a great low cross into space, and again, no-one taking the bait in the middle. Not exactly bad service to the strikers, who simply aren't showing any anticipation for the ball??
Yerry Mina went down after chasing a ball out, perhaps overstretching his hamstring, and needed a few minutes of treatment. Richarlison was taken out by Hutchinson, but it was given against the Everton layers as things started to get a little more physical, Coleman getting pushed over.
Lookman tried a clever give and go but it was too easily read by the defender. Richarlison went down very easily but Oliver gave him the call, Digne's good ball in but Mina flagged for offside as his shirt was pulled.
Everton tried to work the ball in form the left, Gueye falling to an effective a body check, but Coleman called for a high leg. Still no clear-cut chances, Everton showing a familiar reluctance to score away from home.
Lookman was again involved in some good passing butt the ball from Gueye? was overhit and bet Digne to the line. A poor clearance for Archer fell for Sigurdsson but he failed to dig out a shot to test the keeper.
Lookman did well to fight Ferguson for the ball but then Everton lost the ball in close passing that broke down on the edge of the Millwall area. The home side advanced and won another deep free-kick, this one largely wasted by them.
Pressure from Millwall but Everton kept them outside their area effectively, et built very slowly. Gomes tried to find Calvert-Lewin but the ball worked around to him and he fed Richarlison who drove it goalwards with tremendous pace, deflected off Hutchinson and under Archer, who seemed to have it covered, but it squirmed into the Millwall net.
Gueye got free to break but his forward hoof out left was hopeless. Another deep free-kick, headed on by Cooper and Gregory pushed off Digne to loop his header well over a stranded Pickford into the net to level the score just before half-time.
Zouma replaced Mina after the break, and Everton drove forward but couldn't make anything of their tight passing. A further attempt to penetrate with worked passing collapsed. It was Millwall's turn to attack and they produced a dangerous cross to the back post where Coleman shepherded the ball away.
More laboured round-te houses play ended with a ball forward from Lookman to where both Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin had been standing before they ran the other way... what exactly do they do at Finch Farm???
Calvert-Lewin fell awkwardly under a meaty forearm smash from Cooper. Better play from Gueye then Lookman set up Sigurdsson for a deflected shot. Calvert-Lewin missed Sigurdsson's driven corner as Zouma's shit was tugged as the rain got even more torrential with standing water visible in places, A brilliant free-kick delivery from Sigurdsson was again directed away from any Everton players in the scrum.
A much better move out to Digne saw a great cross in to Lookman alone near the spot who totally messed up, when a first-time strike was required... wasted. Everton were really struggling in more and more of a bear-pit atmosphere as they were unable to show any class in the conditions.
Another low cross from the Coleman overlap won a corner, headed away. Gueye lost the ball poorly. Silva called up Tosun, to replace Calvert-Lewin, who had patently failed yet again to get the job done.
Millwall won a contested corner, unfairly but it was headed away by Digne. Lookman was dragged back, Wallace booked. Everton pressing again, but slowly, Digne's cross too high. Coleman doing well to cross, keeping the pressure on until Keane passed the ball straight out of play.
The Everton build-up got even slower, if that was possible, and seemed to be going nowhere, certainly not toward the Millwall goal. That was until Sigurdsson turned and ran at goal, feeding Tosun on his left, who fired confidently inside the far post. Good goal out of almost nothing!
But a crazy melee at the other end and it was driven in after a kick given away by Digne near the corner flag. A shot was saved by Pickford but it flew up and in off Cooper's arm just above the elbow, with a slight but deliberate movement that would have surely been called if this game had VAR.
But the goal stood, despite initial questions of offside. The assistant referee was consulted, Everton players were livid, Coleman, Gueye and Tosun booked for protesting, but the goal was given. Why no VAR in this game? Another incredible Everton injustice.
Everton needed a third goal, and the rain thankfully eased, with better build-up in the attack. Gueye came in hard on Leonard, and was lucky not to have seen a second yellow, the Millwall player needing treatement.
Walcott replaced Lookman: no end product for no end product! Millwall attacked at pace, sensing another goal into added time, a fantastic interception by Zouma. Richarlison broke well but the cross didn't fall. At least Sigurdsson had a strike but it was easy meat for Archer.
Digne was penalized yet again for a soft one wide right, the ball nodded down as Millwall showed far greater desire to get to the ball, Wallace there to drive home from short range and win the game for the Lions.
So no chance of redemption for Everton and the beleaguered Marco Silva, denied a replay for Everton and a massive massive grudge for the blatantly wrong decision on Millwall's second goal, which should never have been allowed to stand.
Scorers: Gregory (45'), Cooper (75'), Wallace (90+45'); Richarlison (43'), Tosun (72')
Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, M Wallace [Y:67'], Williams, Tunnicliffe, Leonard, Ferguson (89' Morison), Gregory, O'Brien.
Subs: Martin, Meredith, Pearce, (86' Skalak) White, Alexander, Hanson.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina (46' Zouma), Digne; Gomes, Gueye [Y:77'], Lookman (75' Walcott), Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Calvert-Lewin (65' Tosun [Y:77']).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Baines, Davies, Bernard.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Everton head to the Capital to face Millwall in a game that has assumed the mantle of being the most important of the season so far as the Blues seek to book their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Having edged their way past Lincoln City in the previous round and then beaten Bournemouth 2-0 at Goodison Park the following week, there was a sense that perhaps Marco Silva's side had put their miserable festive season form behind them.
The 2-1 reverse at Southampton last Saturday has seen the doubts, questions and recriminations resurface, however, and it means that despite the fact that their opponents this weekend sit in 19th place in the Championship, there is unlikely to be anything routine or easy about this tie.
As Millwall's run to the last eight of the FA Cup two seasons ago showed, the New Den can be a difficult place to go for Premier League sides. Watford, Bournemouth and Leicester all fell there that year and former top-flight side Hull City were the Lions' victims in the third round thanks to Shane Ferguson's brace.
The midfielder is hoping that match-winning double salvo is enough to earn him a start as both Ben Marshall and Ben Thompson are cup-tied. Manager Neil Harris will also be without injured quartet Tom Bradshaw, Tom Elliott, Ben Amos and Conor McLaughlin.
Silva, meanwhile, has the same virtually full pool of players from which to choose as last week, with only Phil Jagielka, who is a couple of weeks away from being available, ruled out with the training-ground injury he suffered in the lead-up to the Southampton game.
With Liverpool already out, one more of the “big six” exiting this round when Arsenal take on Manchester United this round and Tottenham facing a potentially tricky trip to Selhurst Park, the field could be winnowed further in Everton's favour by the time the fifth round draw is made if they can get their act together and perform the way they have demonstrated they are able to.
There is undoubtedly a lot riding on this tie for Everton whose hopes for deriving some success from this season effectively rests on a run to Wembley and a crack at ending a 24-year trophy drought.
Silva wasn't betraying any of that pressure in his pre-match press conference, saying:
"There is nothing more than the pressure we put behind ourselves. At a club like Everton this is normal.
"Since the first day we wanted to, if possible, do a fantastic run in the FA Cup.
"It is always tough to play there against Millwall. We have to go there to do our maximum to achieve a good result."
His team is likely to demonstrate his need to win, with perhaps only a couple of changes likely to the one that started at St Mary's Stadium. Given Richarlison's obvious struggles in the lone striker role and the fact that this is unlikely to be a match for silky football, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is a good bet to be restored to the line-up, with the Brazilian moving out wide. That would see one of Bernard or Lookman dropping back to the bench.
In midfield, Silva's faith in André Gomes will probably see the Portuguese continue despite his uncharacteristically poor display last time but the manager could be moved to change things up in a defence that looked very porous against Southampton.
Millwall have won four of their last six matches and will fancy their chances playing in what can be an intimidating atmosphere on their home turf. Everton should have enough to get past them but their poor recent form and the blow to the confidence it has clearly sustained means that even merely earning a replay, as they did in the same tie 13 years ago, would be deemed satisfactory as long as they are still in the competition come 7:30pm.
Kick-off: 5:30pm, Saturday 26 January, 2019
Last Time: Millwall 1 - 1 Everton (Everton won the replay 1-0)
Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Zouma, Mina, Digne, Gueye, Gomes, Sigurdsson, Bernard, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin