Goalscorer Jarrad Branthwaite says Everton’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Thursday night was earned with “grit and a strong mentality”, as he revealed the squad’s collective desire to deliver a performance in that vein for Blues fans.
Branthwaite capped an exemplary individual display with his maiden Everton strike to earn the Toffees a point after Mason Mount had put the home side ahead.
Rafa Benitez’s squad has been decimated by injuries and illness, but Everton performed with resilience, spirit and determination against the reigning European champions.
Branthwaite, who signed a new three-year deal with the Club last weekend, described his emotions upon scoring in his first Premier League appearance of the season – and paid tribute to the efforts of his teammates throughout the Stamford Bridge contest.
“I’m buzzing,” the 19-year-old said. “Playing for this club – like I said when I signed my contract recently – means the world to me.
“And for those fans, who travelled that far on a Thursday night to watch us, we put on a performance for them so I’m buzzing.
“I can’t put it into words, really. It was my first Premier League start for a while and I just wanted to enjoy it.
“Getting the result we did, coming away to a top team like Chelsea, I’m over the moon and happy for the fans as well.
“You can see what it means to our fans, and what it means to us, too, to get that result. It’s superb.
“It’s massive as we showed grit and strong mentality. Every player on the pitch gave 110 per cent and that’s what we need every game to get us to where we want to be.”
Branthwaite was an assured and confident presence in an Everton backline that had kept Chelsea at bay heading into the final 20 minutes of the clash.
Thomas Tuchel’s side did find a way through when England international Mount fired in following a fast break, but the Blues refused to let their heads drop.
Instead, Benitez’s team regrouped and steadfastly hunted an equaliser – and that arrived just four minutes later when Branthwaite’s clinical first-time finish from Anthony Gordon’s fabulous free-kick delivery beat Chelsea stopper Edouard Mendy.
“We worked on that in training yesterday,” Branthwaite revealed. “I got a few chances round the back and I said to Anthony before the game to just keep delivering those balls in.
“When it was coming to me, I was like, ‘Right, I better score here’. When it went into the back of the net, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
Branthwaite, who joined Everton from hometown club Carlisle United in January 2020, added: “When I signed my contract the other day, I spoke to my family afterwards and they reminded me how far I’ve come.
“Two years ago I was playing in League Two with Carlisle, the club I’d been at since I was eight, and now I’m playing in the Premier League. I’m buzzing.”
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