Gana Back To His Best

by Mike Taylor
@Everton

It seems another 7,000-plus mile round trip and a two-week break was the perfect tonic to help Idrissa Gana Gueye overcome his Africa Cup of Nations adventure.

The message from Ronald Koeman to his Senegalese star ahead of the weekend’s clash with Sunderland was simple.

Such were the standards he had set before leaving Merseyside for Gabon in early January, the Blues manager admitted he was disappointed with the midfielder’s display in the goalless draw at Middlesbrough - his first appearance since returning - and called on his summer recruit to regain his best form for the visit of David Moyes’ side.

He did exactly that.

Lining up in a midfield three alongside Morgan Schneiderlin and Tom Davies, the trio were at their dynamic best, attacking with the same vigour as they have become renowned for defensively.

GANAHEATMAP

Indeed, Gana’s will to get forward was rewarded with his first goal in an Everton shirt, meeting Seamus Coleman’s cut-back with a thunderous side-foot effort that gave Black Cats goalkeeper Jordan Pickford no chance.

After spurning almost identical chances in away games against Southampton and Leicester City earlier in the season - was it a case of third time lucky?

Koeman insists not.

“We have done a lot of finishing practice that we usually do for strikers with the midfielders,” he explained. “We need more goals from our midfield players. It was a great attack and a great finish by Gana. I hope it is not the last one he scores!

“He played very well. The reason that he wasn’t playing at that level [against Middlesbrough] was a little bit of tiredness from the Africa Cup of Nations, so it was good to see him perform as he did.”


Gana added: “It was my first Premier League goal and I am happy. I am happy for the team because we won today and that was the most important thing. The blue shirt is good for me.

"The game was not easy because they have a good team and they defended very well. We just tried to find a place to score and we took our time moving the ball. We know we have a good team to score in every game and we are happy to take the three points.”

As well as breaking the deadlock, Gana remained as industrious as ever without the ball, winning nine duels and chipping in with four successful tackles, four interceptions, three clearances and one vital block to ensure Jermain Defoe’s venomous shot diverted off the underside of the crossbar rather than into the Sir Philip Carter Park End net.


That work was rewarded when, with 10 minutes remaining, Gana blocked Adnan Januzaj’s cross before dispossessing the young Belgian and denying him for a third time, intercepting Bryan Oviedo’s pass and finding Kevin Mirallas, who played in Romelu Lukaku for the Toffees’ second of the afternoon.

Related Tags

Season Ticket, Lounge or We Are Everton Member?

Login then click HERE to check out the latest exclusive content, including player features, classic highlights, interviews and more.

evertontv

View More
  • NANCY GIVEN BIRTHDAY SURPRISE AT STADIUM CONSULTATION
    528
  • Richarlison And Bernard
    0
  • MINA: EVERTON DEBUT ONE OF MY MOST IMPORTANT MOMENTS
  • EVERTON'S "ORGANISATION AND ATTITUDE" IMPRESSES SILVA
  • TRAINING GROUND GRAFT WAS KEY, SAYS KEANE
  • WATCH: EVERTON EARN POINT AT UNBEATEN CHELSEA