MATCH CENTRE

Everton Blow Away Burnley In Six-Minute Spell

Six minutes. Or 379 seconds. That was all it took for Everton to not only rescue a losing position but convert it into an all-but guaranteed three points.

From the prospect of spending the week in ninth position after an hour, Rafael Benitez’s team had climbed into the top-four on 66 minutes, level on points with leaders Manchester United.

Ben Mee had opened the scoring for Burnley on 53 minutes. That came as a surprise because Everton appeared to have suffocated opponents who created a handful of chances in the opening half.

Burnley are not a team you want to trail.

They are disciplined and organised and run like stink and well-versed in the art of protecting leads.

Everton, however, needed only seven minutes to draw level.

Demarai Gray, outstanding again, slammed a shot into a defensive body following a short corner but Everton sustained the attack.

Andros Townsend – more on him very shortly – collected possession on the right and put a cross on the head of Michael Keane at the near post.

The defender redirected the ball inside Nick Pope’s left post.

Keane began to celebrate, thought better of it and raced back to restart the game. Everton’s intent was clear – and Benitez chose the moment to introduce Andre Gomes in midfield, remove Ben Godfrey and revert to a back four.


The intent was clearer still five minutes later when Townsend collected possession 35 yards from goal.

Burnley uncharacteristically coughed up possession in midfield, enabling Gray to feed Abdoulaye Doucoure, who continued the forwards momentum to find Townsend.

The former Tottenham player advanced, jinking onto his left foot, before setting the ball off outside the left post and watching as it bent into the top corner. Pope threw everything at trying to make the save and got nowhere near it.

Burnley went straight for the equaliser and in the process sacrificed their composure and shape.

Allan helped the ball out of his penalty area, Doucoure eventually taking over to play a dream of a ball into the middle.

Gray streaked into the space left by Burnley’s missing centre-halves. The player, whose confidence is through the roof, took a superb first touch with the outside of his right boot without breaking stride.

The second touch steadied Gray and the third slipped the ball beyond the advancing Pope.

It was outstanding and, as Gray zipped into the box, never in question.

Both teams subsequently had goals ruled out and Salomon Rondon made a debut from the bench on a very pleasing – and fleetingly exhilarating – night for Benitez and his team.

Certainly, as the Evertonians filed out, the words ‘Everton’s on the Up and Up’ blaring over the PA rang true.

The opening half hour provided no clue whatsoever of the drama that would unfold. Indeed, there were echoes of Brighton a fortnight ago when Everton fought to subdue their opponents before emerging as an attacking force.

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03:55 Mon 13 Sep 2021

BENITEZ IMPRESSED BY EVERTON ATTITUDE

Blues boss says team's character was key to 3-1 success over Burnley.


There was a short period either side of 30 minutes when Benitez’s side began to get a real grip of the game – and whip-up Goodison Park into the bargain.

By half-time, Burnley’s purpose had given way to a defensive shift aimed at reaching the sanctuary of the dressing room all-square.

Everton’s first clear opportunity arrived on 28 minutes and fell for Doucoure, at the same Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End where his thunderous strike threatened to remove the net from its hinges against Southampton last month.

Townsend was the architect, dribbling infield to find Doucoure, who controlled with his left foot and shot with his right in one elegant motion.

Pope instinctively flung out his right hand to make the save.

Chances are that a low Gray strike 10 minutes later would have been scrubbed off had it travelled inside the post, rather than a foot wide.

Seamus Coleman supplied the cross but television replays suggested the full-back might have strayed offside when running onto Richarlison’s pass.

What about Gray, though? The twinkle-toed forward was in mischievous mood. He evaded challenges with subtle changes of direction and immaculate control and repeatedly demonstrated immaculate touch under pressure.

The 25-year-old isn’t deterred by physical company of the ilk of James Tarkowski and Ben Mee. No, Gray wants the ball whenever and wherever.

An early shot from 30 yards that skipped wide was indicative of Gray’s mushrooming belief after an explosive beginning with Everton. He has three goals from his past three games and is making an early play to be considered one of this season's finest acquistions.

Everton gathered momentum when Keane, Richarlison, Gray, Doucoure and Lucas Digne combined for the hosts’ most fluent piece of play, so far, on 31 minutes.

Burnley had issues clearing the resultant corner but when the ball was recycled to the far post by Godfrey, the header from Yerry Mina, under pressure from Burnley centre-half Mee, was easy for Pope in goal.

Richarlison was playing at the tip of Everton’s attack in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Rondon, then, was on the bench following his deadline day arrival – but the Venezuelan sprang to his feet within a minute after Josh Brownhill cut down Richarlison in the middle of the field.

More feistiness involving Richarlison much later in the half.

The Brazilian’s contact on Mee was innocuous enough and no free-kick was awarded. But as Mee received treatment, Tarkowski took issue with Richarlison – an open invite for Coleman to barrel across and have his say. And stoke up a very appreciative Goodison.

Burnley were carving out the majority of opportunities from their left. Dwight McNeill shipped over a cross from deep that dropped over the head of Keane but Chris Wood could apply only the faintest of touches to direct off target.

Charlie Taylor was next to deliver but Wood had to twist and contort to make contact and the ball dropped into Jordan Pickford’s gloves.

Wood had a shot deflected behind by Mina, Mee heading past the post from Ashley Westwood’s following corner.

Perennial handful Wood brilliantly cushioned Westwood’s hopeful forward ball to feed Barnes, who laid off for Brownhill. The midfielder gained neither the direction nor power he wanted on his shot and Pickford made a straightforward stop.

Burnley doubled down on their aggressive approach after the restart. Brownhill desperately tried to keep pace with Townsned before grappling the Everton player to the turf and being booked.

Tarkowski thundered into Richarlison and Taylor flew into a tackle on Townsend.

Sean Dyche clapped his hands above his head and Benitez spread his wide in evident exasperation.

Townsend was next in the book for tripping Taylor as the left-back crossed halfway.

And from the free-kick, Burnley seized the advantage.

Johann Gudmundsson scurried after Godfrey’s original clearance to dish up a cross from the right that Mee powered home from inside the six-yard box.

Everton needed only seven minutes to reply, Keane heading in against his old employers.

Townsend took the roof off Goodison with his howitzer and Gray streaked through to cap a barmy and decisive six minutes.

It would have been four goals inside seven minutes but for Doucoure inching offside when sweeping in Coleman’s cross from the right.

Pope was equal to Townsend’s rising drive after the Everton player skipped across the fringes of the box to unload a scorching left-foot strike.

Everton kept their foot to the floor, outnumbering Burnley in every part of the pitch, and Gomes was fractionally wide of the far post after being threaded in on the left by the immaculate Doucoure.

Tarkowski thought he’d brought Burnley back into it when he headed home with 15 minutes remaining – but Wood was stood offside.

The lack of conviction in Burnley’s protests was illustrative of a side resigned to their fate. The speed of their fall would have hurt Dyche's side. But from Everton, those six decisive minutes were a show of character and spirit and quality and speed. And those attributes added up to three more points.


Well Done Andros

Even Rafa Benitez might give Andros Townsend a pat on the back for this one.

Townsend related this week how Benitez hardly lavished him with praise following a winning goal at Huddersfield Town last month.

The player, it should be noted, was talking enthusiastically about his manager’s attention to detail and consistent demands for improvement.

In the same interview, Townsend revealed his eagerness to score a ‘worldie’ for Everton.

To prove he was good enough to play as a forward for this club.

Well, he went a long way to stating his case on the latter point tonight.

The worldie part is boxed off.

Townsend has an awful lot of faith in his left boot and he needed every ounce of it when sizing up goal from 25 yards.

Defenders backed away as Townsend advanced with the ball at his feet after receiving a pass from Abdoulaye Doucoure.

The 30-year-old drew back his left boot and sent his strike on an arcing trajectory into the top-left corner of goal.

Nick Pope, an exceptionally good goalkeeper with a habit of playing well in this fixture, quickly took off and was fully extended as he grasped after the ball.

So clean and fast was Townsend’s hit, the Burnley number one was barely in the frame as the ball lodged in the back of his net.

Townsend raced away in celebration, barely cracking a smile he was so in the moment.

All around him, cheers were accompanied by the sort of disbelieving laughter that greets outrageous sporting deeds.

From one-nil down, Everton were in front and heading for a third victory from four to start the season.

Townsend was denied by Pope when letting fly at 3-1. Maybe Benitez will tell him what he should have done with that one.

But you imagine the Spanish manager overseeing Everton’s excellent start to the season will quietly congratulate Townsend on the goal that stunned Burnley.

Back Again

Everton scarcely picked up a point from losing positons last season. They gained five of them in all after falling behind at Goodison Park.

Well, they've surpassed that in two matches this term. When Rafael Benitez's side overcame a one-goal deficit to beat Southampton three weeks ago, it was the first time Everton had recovered to win after trailing at half-time since September 2015.

Everton had only 37 minutes to do something about going one down here and they got on with the job in prompt fashion.

Michael Keane levelled from the first real attack following Ben Mee's goal and it was very telling when Everton cut short their celebrations to hare back and restart the game.

After Andros Townsend curled in his wonderful goal, Everton went for the kill. It is a growing trait of this side and exactly how they went about Southampton in identical circumstances.

And Everton's bravery was rewarded when Abdoulaye Doucoure's exquisite pass sliced open Burnley for Demarai Gray to sprint clear and finish.

It can be hard to pinpoint whether character stems from these types of efforts, or the turnaround was largely down to a collective spirit and belief.

Quite probably, it is a bit of both. Benitez is publicly impressed with his side's spirit and personality and commitment.

The confidence is climbing with every effective performance and strengthens further with every hole Everton emerge from in such convincing style.


Everton Crack Burnley Resistance

Some things become true only by virtue of saying them over and over.

But there is no disputing the-oft repeated statement about Burnley being tough, uncompromising opponents.

Everton have never found Sean Dyche’s side easy – the previous four meetings at Goodison Park yielded two victories for each side – and Burnley are a team stealthily evolving under their clever manager.

Among five additions this summer, for example, was Maxwel Cornet, the 24-year-old Ivory Coast winger who was a Champions League semi-finalist with former club Lyon last year.

Cornet was on the bench, here, but the XI who started for Burnley represented another stern examination of Rafael Benitez’s Everton and one completely different from games against Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion immediately before the international break.

Burnley snarl and spoil, yes, but they counter-punch with pace and quality and employed all those attributes to win this fixture last term.

Everton were unruffled by the physical test and threw a blanket over Burnley’s brightest attackers.

In possession, Benitez’s team continue to flourish from a solid base, proving correct the manager’s assertion that organisation doesn’t necessarily equate to pragmatic football. Nobody will call the six minutes that decided this game anything other than thrilling.

Everton exploited spaces left by cavalier Leeds and front-foot Brighton to score four goals and claim four points.

This had more in common with the comeback victory over Southampton last time at Goodison when Everton applied guts and spirit to break down an obdurate visiting side and earn the right to play their more expansive football.

Additionally, the hosts put to bed any fears over a 16-day pause between games – coupled with players travelling to feature for their countries – potentially disrupting momentum.

Burnley are perfectly equipped, with their discipline and clear gameplan, to capitalise on any lowering of standards. They proved it when going in front.

But Everton retained their high level to stave off the Clarets’ threat and leap into the Premier League’s top four.