Everton fail to build on brilliant James opener

Wednesday, 27 January, 2021 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 1 Leicester City

Everton missed an opportunity to gain ground on Leicester City and move back into the top four as they were pegged back by the Foxes and ultimately had to settle for a point.

James Rodriguez had lit up a patchy first half that was largely dominated by the visitors with a goal out of the top drawer on the half hour mark but the Blues were punished for trying to contain Brendan Rodgers's side for too long in the second half when Jordan Pickford failed to keep a Youri Tielemans shot out of his net.

Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin had headed chances to win it late on while Michael Keane's deflection prevented James Maddison from stealing the points at the other end so it was honours even when Mike Dean blew the final whistle.

Pickford had been recalled to the starting XI as part of Carlo Ancelotti's policy of rotating his goalkeepers, Michael Keane was restored at centre-half alongside Yerry Mina and Lucas Digne started wide on the left ahead of Ben Godfrey after missing the FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday.

But it was Leicester who began the game in more enterprising fashion, controlling the early part of the contest and they went close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute when Maddison curled a shot into the roof of the net from 25 yards out.

Everton had struggled to fashion anything meaningful going forward themselves until a loose touch from Wesley Fofana fell to James who engineered space with a touch to his right and then whipped a right-footed shot in off the far post to hand the home side a precious lead.

It was the first shot on target by either side to that point and Leicester wouldn't test Pickford until first-half stoppage time when Marc Albrighton drove a shot in from distance.

Everton appeared content to let Leicester continue to dictate matters in the second half and Harvey Barnes prompted Pickford into parried his cross/shot from the angle in the 50th minute and the England international had to push away a dangerous cross in from Tielemans in the 54th before smothering the ball at James Justin's feet 10 minutes after that.

Another teasing ball in from the Leicester left was going wide when Pickford helped it on its way and from the resulting corner the Foxes equalised. They retained the ball after the initial delivery was cleared and when it came to Tielemans on the edge of the box, he fired through the legs of the defenders in front of him and his shot squirmed off Pickford's gloves and in off the upright.

Pickford blocked another Maddison effort behind and substitute Cengiz Under had one of his own deflected behind but after Alex Iwobi's introduction, the hosts finally started putting some pressure on the Leicester defence.

Richarlison won a corner five minutes after the end and might have done better with Gylfi Sigurdsson's delivery but powered a header over and Calvert-Lewin would have an even better chance with one minute to go but he steered his header wide of the back post.

While the draw represents a decent result in the context of the season, it was hard to not to feel frustrated by Everton's overall performance and the missed chance to leapfrog above Liverpool in the table and into the Champions League spots.

Ancelotti will feel there is plenty of improvement to be made, particularly in terms of his side's often disjointed attacking play but must now look ahead to two winnable games against Newcastle and Leeds in the coming week.

 


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