Everton closed their pre-season schedule with a keenly-fought 2-2 draw against La Liga side Sevilla.
Los Rojiblancos had played both Arsenal and Southampton during their own preparations ahead of the new campaign so had an idea of what to expect from their English opponents. Yet the Blues were off to a dream start before the visitors could settle, going in front inside the opening minute as Sandro Ramirez struck his first goal in an Everton shirt.
But Sevilla overturned the deficit in three second-half minutes. Ever Banega slid a low shot past the impressive Jordan Pickford, before repeating the feat from the penalty spot after Nolito was brought down by Gareth Barry.
The Toffees responded well and earned a share of the spoils with a penalty of their own, Kevin Mirallas bundled over before dusting himself off and squeezing home the equaliser.
For the last dress rehearsal before the season kicks off in earnest next week against Stoke City, Ronald Koeman recalled youngsters Dominic Calvert-Lewin – the matchwinner in midweek against MFK Ružomberok – and Mason Holgate to his starting line-up, at the expense of Ashley Williams and Idrissa Gana Gueye.
And just 34 seconds had elapsed before Everton had their noses in front. Tom Davies spotted an enormous gap in the Sevilla defence, slid a pass into it for Sandro to gather, round David Soria and slide into the net. That was the Spaniard’s first for his new Club, and Evertonians will be hoping to see the posed celebration he used to mark the occasion on a regular basis across the season.
Being caught cold clearly rankled the visitors – Joaquin Correa went into the book as early as the 12th minute after a disagreement following a strong tackle.
When Sevilla were calm and collected, they could work the ball around quickly, Argentines Guido Pizarro and Ever Banega at the heart of most of their attacking play. However, if Phil Jagielka and Michael Keane weren’t already dealing with whatever came their way, Pickford was lively and alert to any danger.
Everton were hassling their visitors whenever they could and when the ball was pinched back just inside the Sevilla half, Davies escaped into space. Bursting into the box, he was seemingly upended by Pizarro but referee Mike Jones decided it was a dive and booked the young midfielder for simulation.
Leighton Baines then blocked a Wissam Ben Yedder chance, as Sevilla looked to capitalise on their reprise. The Tunisian was at it again minutes later, with only a smart save from Pickford keeping him out.
Los Rojiblancos were in the ascendancy – but Walter Montoya was denied when stinging the palms of Pickford from range, while Keane’s excellent sliding challenge stopped Sergio Escudero from capitalising on a brilliant pass from Clement Lenglet.
Another penalty appeal – this time for Holgate’s nudge on Escudero – was again waved away by Jones and with it, an intriguing first half drew to a close.
The second half saw Koeman introduce Cuco Martina and Williams to his rearguard, Barry and Gana just ahead of them and Mirallas to his attack, with Baines, Jagielka, Morgan Schneiderlin, Davy Klaasen and Wayne Rooney the men to make way.
However, Sevilla quickly resumed their possession game and carved out the first chance of the half. Substitute Michael Krohn-Dehli fed Correa and when he picked out another replacement, Luis Muriel, in the box, the frontman saw a deflected effort somehow kept out by Pickford.
Pickford then denied Correa from close-range before Keane got a head to Muriel’s drive to steer it off target.
But finally, the sustained pressure from the visitors told on 58 minutes. Correa fed Banega and his pinpoint strike found the bottom corner, with Pickford given no chance.
Suddenly, Everton found themselves behind. Substitute Nolito was sent tumbling by Barry and Jones whistled, pointing to the spot. Replays, however, showed the infringement looked to have occurred just outside the box.
Untroubled by the Blues’ sense of injustice, Banega picked his spot and beat Pickford once again.
But the hosts responded by upping the tempo – a flowing move involving Martina, Sandro and Mirallas saw the latter pick out Gana on the edge of the box. Unable to get the shot away with his right, the Senegalese midfielder checked onto his left but dragged his effort wide of the target.
On came Muhamed Besic, Ademola Lookman and Jonjoe Kenny to inject fresh legs into the side, with Keane, Sandro and Holgate making way. And the Bosnian was into the thick of straight away, clattering Nolito with a tackle that earned him a yellow card.
His fellow sub Lookman faired slightly better – the former Charlton winger picked up possession just past the centre circle and made a beeline for the Sevilla box. Jinking one way then the other, he fed Calvert-Lewin who was kept from levelling by first substitute keeper Sergio Rico then the linesman’s flag.
However, the equaliser soon came. Lookman slipped a pass into Mirallas in the area but before the Belgian could shape to shoot, he was dragged to the floor by Sevilla skipper Nicolas Pareja. Mirallas took the resultant penalty himself and managed to squeeze his spot-kick under Rico.
Minutes later, Mirallas almost put the Blues back in front. It looked initially like the winger had squandered the opportunity after bursting into the box but, helped by a fortuitous ricochet, a chance presented itself for a left-footed attempt. Sadly for the hosts, Mirallas dragged the chance narrowly wide.
However, it was Everton who were finishing the stronger, and were only denied victory by the heroics of Rico. First he was at full stretch to tip away a fiercely struck Lookman drive, before getting something in the way of Williams’ header from the resulting corner.
But it would end 2-2. A thoroughly useful run out for the Blues who can now look forward to the real business starting in six days’ time.