Everton 0:1 Leicester City
A Jamie Vardy strike edged City to victory over Everton at Goodison on New Years Day.
Claude Puel made four changes to the side that lost against Cardiff with Ghezzal, Choudhury, Evans and Simpson replacing Gray, Maddison, Albrighton and Söyüncü.
The game kicked off at 12.30, but didn’t really start then. Early kick-offs often have a subdued atmosphere, and Goodison, half of which was brightly illuminated by a low winter sun, appeared to be suffering a collective New Years Day hangover.
Both sides were giving the ball away frequently in the midfield pinball.
The first half-chance fell for Vardy who ballooned a shot 20 yards over the bar.
Then the home side were presented with a chance by Maguire, but Richarlison fired his shot straight into Evans’ chest.
Everton went close in the 20th minute when a low cross passed through the area, to be met with a fierce shot by Kenny that struck the angle of post and bar.
A fairly dire game trundled on, with the only incidents being some crunching tackles from either side. Evans got away with one on Richarlison, but referee Martin Atkinson’s patience ran out and Choudhury was shown a yellow for a bodycheck on the Brazilian. Digne delivered the free-kick from the left but Zouma’s downward header into the ground didn’t trouble Schmeichel.
Zouma then launched a 40 yarder over the bar, before a rare foray forward from City saw Ghezzal do the same from the edge of the area.
City had an attacking spell up the break, Ricardo cut in from the left and sent a shot narrowly over, and then Pickford comfortably claimed a Maguire header.
The ref then blew his whistle and ended a half that no one was sad to see the back of.
Claude Puel swapped Albrighton for Ghezzal at the break and City looked the better side when play recommenced. Albrighton’s first cross saw Pickford struggling to claw it away. Everton were still struggling to create anything, and the mood at Goodison didn’t improve when City took a 58th minute lead. A terrible bit of control from Keane presented the ball to Ricardo who sent Vardy in on goal. He outpaced Zouma before beating Pickford with a low shot into the far corner. Vardy celebrated with some acrobatics in front of the travelling fans who were now thinking their early start had been worthwhile.
Everton tried to up their game in search of an equaliser, Sigurdsson sent a shot narrowly over, but it still wasn’t happening for them and the City defence were dealing comfortably with a series of crosses, especially Evans who had a fine game.
City were still a threat on the break and Ricardo forced Pickford into an awkward save at his near post with a shot from an acute angle.
Richarlison had a shot blocked from close in, before City swept upfield again. Chilwell led the charge, but couldn’t find a shot to match his run, and Pickford easily saved a tame effort.
City then won a couple of free-kicks. The first saw Maguire heading the ball on to Keane’s arm, but shouts for a penalty were ignored. Chilwell delivered the second to the far post but Maguire managed to shin it over from close in. His blushes were spared by the linesman’s flag.
Everton were still failing to put the pressure on City and the only close call came in time added on when Tosun had a a header from close in but Schmeichel spread himself well to block.
The final whistle saw City’s tough run of fixtures producing nine points from 12, and 7th place. While no one could describe this as a great game, it was certainly a perfect result for Claude Puel and his side.
Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Keane, Zouma, Digne, André Gomes (Bernard 62), Gueye, Walcott (Tosun 70), Sigurdsson, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin.
Substitutes: Baines, Mina, Stekelenburg, Coleman, Davies.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Choudhury, Mendy,
Ndidi, Ghezzal (Albrighton 45), Vardy (Gray 90), Ricardo.
Substitutes: Söyüncü, Maddison, Ward, Okazaki, Fuchs.
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Attendance: 39,052.