Richarlison And Holgate Steer Blues To Leicester Success

Everton got the better of in-form opposition – and kept a clean sheet – for the second time in four days as goals from Richarlison and Mason Holgate secured a hugely-impressive 2-0 success at Leicester City.

Richarlison broke the deadlock on 22 minutes with a powerful right-footed drive from the edge of the area before a resolute and streetwise Blues display was rewarded with a first league goal for Mason Holgate 18 minutes from time.

The victory continues Everton’s encouraging start to their frantic festive run and lifts them up to fifth in the Premier League table.

Ancelotti called for the same intensity and determination shown by his side four days earlier in front of 2,000 Blues at Goodison. Everton duly delivered – but not before an early scare.

With just two minutes on the clock, Harvey Barnes flashed down the left flank, cut a pass across the edge of the area to Jamie Vardy who teed up Youri Tielemans for the Belgian to glance a 20-yard shot inches wide of the left-hand post.

That was as good as it got for the hosts in the opening half as the Blues matched the pressing duties of Chelsea while keeping Vardy largely under wraps.

It was Everton who, all told, looked the real threat on the counter and they signalled their intent on four minutes when Alex Iwobi gathered the ball on halfway and smacked a long through ball for Calvert-Lewin that proved too heavy for the top-scorer to reach.

It was then Allan’s turn to move the ball quickly as he collected possession on halfway and broke forward before being tugged back by Nampalys Mendy who was shown the game’s first yellow card.

Allan was back in the thick of the action moments later with a sublime crossfield ball into the area for Calvert-Lewin to chest down. The England international hit the deck under a challenge from Wesley Fofana only for referee Lee Mason to wave play on.

Everton were in the ascendancy at this point and their lead was well deserved when it arrived on 21 minutes. Richarlison produced another trademark cut-in from the left flank, but while he may have been frustrated against Chelsea for failing to get a clean strike on the ball, there was no doubt about the power of this finish as he arrowed a shot into the far corner that Kasper Schmeichel could not keep out.

Leicester sent a timely reminder that the Blues could not switch off for a second as they went close to grabbing an instant response. James Justin found joy down the right side of the penalty area and clipped a cross into the box for Vardy to plant a header into the arms of a grateful Robin Olsen, making his second start for the Club.

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03:40

ANCELOTTI: HARD WORK REMAINS THE KEY

Everton manager reflects on impressive 2-0 victory at Leicester City.


It was Everton who looked the more likely to find the back of the net again, though, as their crisp counter-attacking continued. Just past the half-hour mark, Richarlison made the most of being given acres of space in the centre of the park as a swarm of green shirts broke forward. The Brazilian opted to play in Iwobi down the right as the Nigerian found Calvert-Lewin whose deflected finish crept into the arms of Schmeichel.

Richarlison was proving a real headache for Leicester. The goalscorer cut in from the left again, this time opting to whip in a cross that was agonisingly close to being headed home by the giant leap of Calvert-Lewin.

Gylfi Sigurdsson – on point with his deliveries throughout the first half – then whipped in a free-kick from the right that was perfectly-weighted for Calvert-Lewin to head into Schmeichel.

For all the positives, Everton were dealt a blow five minutes before the break as the in-form Allan – clocking up the miles at the King Power with his tireless work-rate – was forced off on a stretcher after going down holding his hamstring. Andre Gomes was his replacement as Ancelotti’s side closed out an encouraging opening half.

A sign of what was to come was set out soon after the interval as Leicester upped the ante and began to crank up the pressure. The early response was positive from Everton, however, who took little notice of the possession statistics to stand firm and limit the hosts to plenty of passing around the penalty area but not much more.

The stand needed to become even firmer as we entered the contest’s final quarter, with the home side sensing a leveller. Doucoure needed his wits about him to react first to a break into the area from Barnes, moments after Olsen jumped on to a testing left-wing cross by Maddison.

Twelve months ago, the Blues were leading 1-0 at the King Power only to be pegged back in the second half and taste a cruel 2-1 defeat. Not this time.

Having soaked up the pressure, the fatal blow arrived on 73 minutes from an unlikely source.

After another dangerous Sigurdsson free-kick was turned behind for a corner, the Iceland international stepped up to take the set piece. His delivery met the head of Keane who was denied by a fine save from Schmeichel. Calvert-Lewin's stinging follow-up kissed the bar but there was no denying the Blues a third time as up popped Holgate to tuck in his first league goal for the Club.

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01:16

HOLGATE ON KEY POSITIVES AFTER FINE LEICESTER WIN

Defender scored first Premier League goal in triumph at King Power Stadium.


It was so nearly 3-0 moments later as Everton – confidence soaring – played a neat interchange that ended with Iwobi teeing up Sigurdsson to curl a volley over the bar.

Leicester thought they had a lifeline with eight minutes remaining when Andre Gomes was adjudged to have clipped the feet of substitute Ayoze Perez. But having initially given a penalty, referee Mason was asked by VAR to check his decision and, at the second time of looking, he reversed the call.

And Leicester’s night, or more importantly Everton’s joy, was summed up close to full-time when Perez put the ball in the back of the net only to see the offside flag raised.