Everton 4:2 Leicester City
A City starting XI with one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final were beaten 4-2 by Everton at Goodison on Sunday…
With TV scheduling forcing City to play three days before one of the biggest games in the club’s history Craig Shakespeare had a balancing act to pull off, and made five changes to his starting line-up. Fuchs, Simpson, Okazaki, Ndidi and Mahrez were replaced by Chilwell, Amartey, Albrighton, King and Slimani.
They didn’t get off to a great start, with Everton taking the lead after just 31 seconds.
Mirallas cut through City’s back-line with a strong run down the middle before Amartey brought him down on the edge of the area. Referee Bobby Madley allowed play to continue, Davies seized on the loose ball and produced a neat finish to beat Schmeichel.
City’s defence were still looking shaky two minutes later when Lukaku set up Mirallas with a fine ball from the right, but he miscontrolled and wasted the chance.
However, by the fourth minute City were level. Gray charged forward on the break and picked out an unmarked Slimani who slotted a cool finish through Robles’ legs.
By the 10th minute City were ahead. Vardy was fouled on the left. Albrighton swung in the free-kick and the ball flew over everyone, including Robles, and found the top right hand corner.
It had been an incredible turn around by City and Gray went on another run four minutes later, but his shot didn’t have enough zip to trouble Robles.
But the home side levelled matters in the 23rd minute. Barkley delivered a superb cross from the right and a slackly marked Lukaku only had to apply his head to it to make it 2-2.
There was a flare up in the 28th minute when Mirallas objected to a challenge by Huth and ill-advisedly grabbed a handful of the big German’s shirt. Both players were yellow-carded.
Everton were running the game up to the break and regained their lead in the 41st minute. Barkley broke free on goal, and rounded Schmeichel who somehow managed to get a last ditch hand to his shot on goal.
But it was a temporary reprieve, as Mirallas swung in a fine corner kick and Jagielka rose above a weak Benalouane challenge to head home and give Everton a half time lead.
Everton continued to look threatening in the second half, with Lukaku, Mirallas and Barkley all on top form.
City were restricted to the occasional chance, and Slimani had a shot deflected just wide.
Everton sealed victory in the 57th minute when City conceded from another corner.
Mirallas whipped the flag kick in from the left, Jagielka got a touch to it and the ball fell nicely for Lukaku to fire home his second at the far post.
Soon after this goal, Mahrez and Musa replaced Gray and Vardy, but it was another sub, Ulloa who almost made an instant impact in the 78th minute.
Mahrez ook a corner from the right and Ulloa’s first touch, a thumping header, struck Gueye when it looked goalbound.
Ulloa then got his head to a Mahrez cross, but Robles made a fine reaction save before Jagielka hooked the ball clear.
But this game was over long before the end and Craig Shakespeare’s six game winning run was at an end.
The fifteen points earned since he took over meant that this game could be sacrificed to an extent, and no one could blame Shakespeare for planning around next Wednesday night with his team selection.
Madrid, here we come…
Everton: Robles, Holgate, Pennington, Jagielka, Baines, Gana, Schneiderlin (Barry 73), Davies, Barkley, Lukaku, Mirallas. Subs Not Used: Valencia, Stekelenburg, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman, Kenny, Williams.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Benalouane, Huth, Chilwell, Albrighton (Ulloa 78), King, Drinkwater, Gray (Mahrez 61), Slimani, Vardy (Musa 61). Subs Not Used: Kapustka, Simpson, Zieler, Wasilewski.
Referee: R Madley. Attendance: 39,573.
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