Everton 2:2 Leicester City (Leicester win 4-2 on penalties)
Despite losing a two goal lead in the last 20 minutes City were triumphant in the penalty shoot-out in this League Cup quarter-final at Goodison Park on Wednesday night…
Brendan Rodgers showed his cup ambitions with just three changes: Söyüncü, Tielemans and Iheanacho making way for Morgan, Pérez and Albrighton.
After an early scare when a poor Schmeichel clearance was headed back short by Evans, but Everton couldn’t capitalise, City settled into their possession game. But with blue shirts pressing them hard they couldn’t get near Pickford’s goal.
The first chance arrived in the 15th minute when Ricardo went on a fine run down the right and cut back for Pérez, but his shot cleared the bar from a good position.
City eventually made their possession pay in the 26th minute. Ricardo blasted a low cross from the right and Maddison had the time to kill the ball with his left foot and fire it home from 15 yards with his right.
If this was a blow for the Toffees it would get worse for them three minutes later when City went further ahead. Maddison delivered a corner from the left, Vardy nodded it on, and Evans calmly side-footed home at the far post from a yard out.
But with Everton newly revitalised under Duncan Ferguson there was never a sense that the game was over.
Everton created a rare chance towards half time when Mina got his head to a free-kick but it didn’t test Schmeichel. But City were in control of proceedings for the remainder of the first half, with Everton giving the ball away far too often.
Although Everton saw more of the ball early in the second half it was City who had the first chance when Pérez connected well with a long range effort, but Pickford tipped it over the bar at full stretch.
Everton, roared on by a sell out crowd, and Duncan Ferguson in shirt sleeves on a cold night, began to create some chances but were wasteful. Kean had a shot saved by Schmeichel, Mina failed to connect with a corner from point blank range, and Holgate sent a shot way off target.
City came close to killing the game off in the 66th minute. Vardy robbed Coleman and set up Albrighton with a clever back hell, but his curling shot hit the bar.
Two minutes later Rodgers made his first change with Gray on for Pérez.
Everton were back in the contest with twenty minutes remaining.
Richarlison crossed from the right and Davies steered a superb side-footed volley into the bottom left hand corner.
City were on the back foot now and Calvert-Lewin sent a header over the bar.
Rodgers responded by bringing Söyüncü on for Albrighton to bolster the defence.
With five minutes remaining and the home side running out of time Choudhury replaced Praet.
City weren’t overstretched at this point, and still held their lead when the board for four minutes of time-added-on was held up. But by the time it was lowered, Everton had raised the roof with an equaliser. Baines pushed forward into space and then launched a superb shot into the top left hand corner.
Having lost a two goal lead City had to get themselves in the right frame of mind for a penalty shoot-out, and it didn’t get off to a good start.
Maddison’s spot-kick was too close to Pickford who made a fine save.
But Tosun was also guilty of not finding the corner and Schmeichel pounced on his effort.
Chilwell then coolly sent Pickford the wrong way to put City ahead.
Baines proved to be less effective from 12 yards than 25 with a carbon copy of Tosun’s which Schmeichel gleefully accepted.
Ricardo sent his bottom left to make it 2-0, before Holgate crashed his into the roof of the net.
Gray fired his to the right and Pickford was inches away from getting a touch.
Schmeichel gueesed right, but couldn’t keep Calvert-Lewin’s shot out.
Vardy stepped up with a chance to win the tie and made no mistake.
City were in their first cup semi-final in nineteen years and Brendan Rodgers had won his 29th consecutive cup tie.
The victorious City boss commented: “It’s about reframing the mind again when you concede so late on. We did our work yesterday on penalties. It’s brilliant for the players, for them to make the semi-finals. At the end of it, pull them in, recognise that we should have won it, but we haven’t and it’s gone. You can’t do anything about it now. So there’s no point getting too down. Now we’ve got to win it on penalties and the players showed a top mentality to do that.”
Aston Villa await in the semi-final, just as they did on that last occasion back in 2000.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina, Baines, Iwobi (Tosun 78), Davies, Holgate, Bernard (Kean 45), Richarlison (Gordon 84), Calvert-Lewin.
Substitutes: Tosun, Stekelenburg, Niasse, Martina, Adeniran.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Evans, Chilwell, Ndidi, Pérez (Gray 69), Praet (Choudhury 86), Maddison, Albrighton (Söyüncü 82), Vardy.
Substitutes: Justin, Ward, Iheanacho, Barnes.
Referee: Jonathan Moss. Attendance: 39,027.
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