Everton Under 23s boss David Unsworth hailed Antony Evans’ “top-drawer” finish after the midfielder's free-kick set the young Blues on their way to a 2-0 victory over Swansea City on Monday night.
The 19-year-old’s sumptuous 21st-minute strike was the highlight of the clash at Goodison Park, as Unsworth’s men leapfrogged the Swans and went fourth in the Premier League 2 table.
The Blues’ second goal came courtesy of Con Ouzounidis – the Australian youth international bundling home Conor Grant’s cross to cap a fine performance alongside Ramiro Funes Mori at centre-back.
Davy Klaassen also completed 70 minutes, and while Unsworth praised his whole side for a “professional performance from start to finish”, he admitted Evans’ dead-ball effort was something special.
He revealed the forward, who recently signed a new contract with the Blues until 2020, regularly showcases this quality on the training pitch.
“It was top drawer,” Unsworth told evertontv. “We know he’s got that in his locker. His quality is there for everybody to see and it was no surprise for me – having worked with him for the last couple of years – to see that go in the top corner. It was a great goal.”
The win means reigning Premier League 2 champions Everton are seven points behind league leaders Leicester City, but with two games in hand on the Foxes.
The victory was particularly satisfying for Unsworth, given it was against a Swansea side who were unbeaten in eight league games. The last time they’d lost, in fact, was against Unsworth’s men in late October, when Shayne Lavery’s stoppage-time goal snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory in south Wales.
“Swansea are a really good team and we did a lot of homework on them,” said Unsworth. “They play some good football, with pace, and they’re dynamic, so we knew it would be a tough game.
“But I thought we were professional. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we got our goals, we kept a clean sheet, and it was a very committed performance.”
The Toffees Under-23s will aim to build on this victory when they travel to second-bottom Sunderland on Sunday, and Unsworth will be hoping for another commanding performance from goalscorer Ouzounidis.
The 18-year-old impressed alongside Funes Mori, who is continuing to get match action under his belt after being out with a knee injury since last March, and Unsworth was full of praise for the young defender.
Ouzounidis didn’t just display his class at the back against Swansea, he also showed he’s a threat in the opposition box by netting the Toffees’ second goal of the night – even if it did come about somewhat fortuitously.
“He said it came off his knee – I’ve told him not to be so honest and say it was a great finish!” added Unsworth.
“But he’s always capable of scoring, and that’ll do his confidence the world of good. He’s done great for us. He’s only been with us for a month now, training every day – he’s improving and he’ll get better and better.
"We do think a lot of him, and it’s great that he’s got a goal at Goodison. That’s great for any young player.”