Baines's beauty in vain as Blues exit cup on penalties

Wednesday, 18 December, 2019 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 2 Leicester City [Pens: 2-4]
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Everton fell at the quarter-final stage of the Carabao Cup as a stirring second-half comeback was rendered fruitless in heartbreaking fashion by defeat to Leicester City on penalties.

The Blues were trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes to go when Tom Davies volleyed home to make it 2-1 and the spirit shown by Duncan Ferguson's men in the closing stages was rewarded in stoppage time when Leighton Baines rifled home an unstoppable shot to force the deciding shootout.

Jordan Pickford appeared to have given Everton the perfect platform when he saved James Maddison's opening spot-kick but misses from 12 yards by Cenk Tosun and Baines put the hosts behind the eight ball and the Foxes were able to see out the win by a 4-2 scoreline.

Everton had started the match brightly but their performance soon became ragged and wracked, perhaps, by fatigue from what was their fourth intense game in the space of two weeks with some players involved in all of them due to the threadbare nature of an injury-ravaged squad.

Richarlison almost profited from a mistake by Kasper Schmeichel whose low clearance pinged off Alex Iwobi and into the Brazilian's path but he couldn't take it past the goalkeeper and ended up prodding the ball wide.

At the other end, meanwhile, Ayoze Perez cracked an effort narrowly over the crossbar from 20 yards before Ricardo Pereira made progress down the Leicester right and picked Maddison out all too easily in the middle and he fired past Pickford to give the visitors a 25th-minute lead.

It was 2-0 just a couple of minutes later after Leicester won a corner off Iwobi. Jamie Vardy flicked on the resulting delivery at the near post and Jonny Evans was on hand at the back stick to convert from close range.

Everton had a great chance to halve the deficit when Bernard chipped a beautiful free kick over the Leicester defence for Yerry Mina but the Colombian could only steer a tame header into Schmeichel's arms. Richarlison then flashed a shot across goal from a smartly-taken quick free kick by Mason Holgate.

Pickford had to be alert to make an excellent one-handed save to deny Perez from distance early in the second half and then later denied Dennis Praet in impressive fashion but in between it was the Toffees who really should have scored through Mina.

Moise Kean, on as a half-time replacement for Bernard, saw a shot deflected behind and from the resulting corner, Baines swung a wicked ball into the six-yard box where Mina just had to make contact to score but it fizzed agonisingly by him.

A mistake by Seamus Coleman almost put the game beyond Everton as Vardy back-heeled the loose ball to Mark Albrighton but his curling shot bounced back off the crossbar.

Coleman partially atoned for the error shortly afterwards, however, when he was involved in the move that led to the Blues' first goal. The ball was eventually worked to Richarlison whose early cross was met with a lovely, controlled finish by Davies past the keeper from around 10 yards out.

With the home crowd now fully behind them, Everton pressed and Kean served a chance up for Dominic Calvert-Lewin but his header flew over. Iwobi and Richarlison made way within eight minutes of each other as Tosun and young debutant Anthony Gordon joined the fray but it all looked to be in vain as the match ticked into time added on.

Baines had one more trick up his sleeve, however, and when Tosun played the ball into space in front of him, the left-back had time and space to advance and then set his sights before unloading a missile into the top corner of Schmeichel's goal from 25 yards.

Sadly, the momentum shift did not carry through the shootout that followed a few minutes later. Pickford did well to guess right when facing his England team-mate Maddison and beat his shot away but two poorly-struck penalties from Tosun and Baines, both easily stopped by Schmeichel, put the Blues into arrears and Leicester remained perfect through their four remaining kicks.

It was another sad and almost cruelly inevitable end for Everton in a competition they appear destined never to win and in a season where fortune has largely deserted them.

Ferguson and his players will rightly take heart and credit, however, for picking themselves off the mat and fighting their way back into a contest that looked well beyond them at the end of what had been a hugely disappointing first half.

They demonstrated the fight, passion and determination that will stand them in good stead and provide building blocks for what looks likely to be the Carlo Ancelotti era at Goodison Park.

 


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