Everton rediscover their grit to blunt Blades' Euro charge

Monday, 20 July, 2020 0comments  |  Jump to last
Sheffield United 0 - 1 Everton

Richarlison was the match-winner again as Everton finally got back to winning ways

Everton got back to winning ways and put a significant dent in Sheffield United's Europa League hopes with a hugely improved performance at Bramall Lane.

Richarlison's terrific header immediately after half-time proved to be the difference and it was just reward for the Toffees who displayed the grit, determination and, increasingly as the game went on, the attacking intent that had been so lacking over the previous four games.

Carlo Ancelotti made four changes to his line-up, bringing Jarrad Branthwaite in for his first senior start in place of the injured Mason Holgate, replacing Seamus Coleman with Djibril Sidibé at right-back, deploying Theo Walcott wide on the right and Gylfi Sigurdsson in midfield.

And it was clear from the outset that Everton were playing with much more intensity, enjoying more of the ball and having the better of the first half against one of the Premier League's surprise packages of the season.

There was always a danger the visitors might be the architects of their own demise trying to play out from the back and when Lucas Digne fouled Sander Berge, Jordan Pickford had to palm away Oliver Norwood's free kick in the 13th minute.

At the other end, however, Sigurdsson slid Walcott in in the 20th minute but the winger failed to test Dean Henderson, firing a shot-cum-cross in front of goal that was too far ahead of Richarlison who was trying to make up ground in the middle.

Four minutes later, André Gomes curled an excellent ball in from the touchline that picked out Dominic Calvert-Lewin's run but the striker's touch was too heavy and it ran for Henderson to claim in his penalty area.

A poor pass by the otherwise excellent Branthwaite gifted possession to the Blades shortly before half-time but Pickford was there to bat away Chris Basham's in-swinging cross before Richarlison won a corner for Everton at the other end.

Henderson got a fist to Sigurdsson's dead-ball delivery but it was collected by Walcott who curled a superb cross to the back post but while Calvert-Lewin out-jumped his marker, he could only plant his header onto the post.

Sheffield United, meanwhile, had a chance in stoppage time but Osborn's deflected shot was saved by Pickford to keep things goalless at the halfway stage.

The second period was just seconds old when Gomes was fouled in Blades territory and Sigurdsson, who had despatched an almost identical free-kick onto the head of the first man immediately prior to half-time, executed perfectly on this occasion.

The Icelander put the ball onto the head of Richarlison and the Brazilian steered a header beyond Henderson to put Everton into the lead.

Two minutes later, Gomes played Walcott in again but he couldn't find a Blue jersey with his cut-back and, just before the hour mark, Calvert-Lewin out-muscled John Egan impressively and went it alone but the covering defender got a crucial boot to his shot and it deflected up where the keeper was able to bat it away to safety.

With Branthwaite growing in stature at the back alongside the almost equally unflappable Michael Keane, Everton successfully kept their hosts at arm's length for most of the second half. Indeed, it was the Toffees who looked more likely to add to the scoreline, with a fine passing interchange ending with Walcott sliding the ball into the danger zone but, again, away from any team-mates in the 80th minute and Gomes smashing narrowly wide a minute later.

George Baldock had a late chance for the Blades that he headed over while substitute Anthony Gordon and Calvert-Lewin sprinted away in stoppage time but the former couldn't find the latter with a killer pass to put the match to bed.

The win means that Everton's chances of finishing in 11th are in their own hands heading into the final game. Better Southampton's result against Sheffield United and the Blues can secure the additional £2.5m in merit payments for finishing in that position while Ancelotti and Marcel Brands work to improve the squad over the abbreviated close season.

 


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