Everton 2:1 Leicester City
Transfer deadline day cast a shadow over City’s game at Everton on Wednesday night, as they lost 2-1 on a cold and wet night…
Riyad Mahrez, the subject of interest from Manchester City, didn’t travel to Merseyside with the squad. This meant a starting place for Gray, while FA Cup heroes Diabaté and Iheanacho were on the bench along with Silva and Iborra.
For the opening twenty minutes this line-up worked well, playing an assured passing game that had Everton chasing shadows and murmurs of discontent from the home crowd.
Despite this dominance, City weren’t creating many chances. The best one came in the 10th minute when Ndidi got a looping header to an Albrighton cross, but his effort hit the bar.
But the tide then turned when Everton took a 25th minute lead. Chilwell dwelt on the ball in his own area, looking for a pass when he should have cleared, and he was robbed by Martina. Sigurdsson then crossed for an unmarked Walcott to stroke home his first goal for Everton.
This gave Goodison a huge lift, and the game was transformed, with City looking shaky as Everton had their tails up.
City had a huge let off in the 35th minute when Amartey’s poor clearance set up Niasse for an easy chance, but he screwed his shot just wide of the right hand post. It was only a temporary reprieve however, as Everton doubled their lead a minute later.
Rooney hoisted a high ball into the box, Keane nodded it down, and Walcott was unmarked to net his second from close in.
Right from the kick-off Everton had another chance when a Maguire error saw Niasse steaming down the middle, but his control let him down and Schmeichel beat him to the ball.
For City it had been a half of two halves, and it couldn’t end quickly enough.
There were no changes for either side for the second half, and no change in City’s woeful play either with constant defensive errors and hardly a pass finding a man.
Sigurdsson forced Schmeichel into a good save, before Niasse wasted another decent chance.
Claude Puel made his first change after 58 minutes, bringing on Diabaté for Okazaki, but like fellow striker Vardy, he was hardly getting a touch, as Everton controlled their own defensive third.
But City were then handed a 70th minute life-line. Rooney tugged Ndidi as he ran into the area to meet a cross and the referee pointed to the spot. Vardy blasted the penalty into the bottom left hand corner, sending Pickford the wrong way and it was City’s turn to get fired up.
Iheanacho and Fuchs came on for Gray and Amartey as City changed to three at the back and pressed forward. And Iheanacho came close to scoring after just two minutes.
City’s pressing saw Rooney forced into conceding a corner. Albrighton delivered it and Maguire got a diving header on target. Iheanacho, three yards out, stuck out a boot and diverted it onto the crossbar, before chasing the rebound and hitting the post with a shot on the turn.
Two minutes later James had a shot from close in cleared off the line, but then Everton managed to get a grip on the game, aided by what was now torrential rain.
In the 85th minute Schmeichel came out to collect a cross held up in the swirling wind and collided with Calvert-Lewin, but Drogovic took up his position in goal to head clear.
City couldn’t find a way back and tasted defeat for the first time in 2018.
Without offering any excuses it was hard to believe that transfer deadline day hadn’t affected City’s performance.
Claude Puel commented on the Mahrez situation: “I was ready to accept all decisions. We can understand his reaction. A difficult situation for him and the club. We received something at the last moment and it was harsh for us. All the players, staff, will help him come back with a smile.”
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Martina, Gueye, Davies, Walcott,
Rooney (Schneiderlin 81), Sigurdsson (Calvert-Lewin 82), Niasse (Williams 88).
Substitutes: Bolasie, Tosun, Robles, Kenny.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey (Fuchs 74), Dragovic, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, James, Albrighton, Okazaki
(Diabaté 58), Gray (Iheanacho 75), Vardy.
Substitutes: Hamer, Silva, Iborra, Benalouane.
Referee: C Kavanagh. Attendance: 38,390.
We are producing a Limited Edition (75) print of the FiftySomething strip from The FOX Summer Special 2016 – celebrating City’s Premier League title win.
The A3 sized print will be available from next Thursday (25th Jan) , but you can pre-order one now.
They will be posted to you rolled in a cardboard tube.
The prints cost £6.50 and post & packing is £3.45. (UK only)
You can pay online via Paypal HERE