MATCH CENTRE

Richarlison Strikes Late For Everton Point

Not many of Richarlison’s 50 Everton goals can have been celebrated as wildly as the one which brought up the Brazilian’s half century.

Frank Lampard’s team were heading for defeat, here, smashing away at the door in pursuit of a strike to level Harvey Barnes’ fifth-minute goal for Leicester to no avail.

As hard as they pushed and probed and picked away at the lock, Everton couldn’t bundle their way through.

Headers flashed wide, shots were scrambled off the line and Kasper Schmeichel, Leicester’s goalkeeper, made a couple of very good saves.

It seemed Everton’s race was run when Seamus Coleman steered the ball beyond Schmeichel in stoppage time, only for Daniel Amartey to intervene.

But there was still gas in the Everton tank. Forward they came, one more time, to muster a 13th shot of the game.

Lucky number 13, as it happened, as, finally, the hosts achieved the desired result. Salomon Rondon, on since minute 66, pushed Leicester back, eventually squeezing the ball to Richarlison.

The Everton attacker had passed up a couple of very good opportunities – but in putting his hand up for another go, Richarlison epitomised his side’s perseverance.

His double at Burnley a fortnight ago – goals 48 and 49 of his Goodison Park career – went unrewarded.

This right-foot strike, however, dribbled into the corner to claim a draw and open up a four-point cushion to Burnley in 18th.

We should have known, Richarlison likes a goal against Leicester, this his fifth in seven Premier League games against the Midlanders.

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WATCH VIDEO 03:12

LAMPARD PINPOINTS KEY EVERTON IMPROVEMENTS IN DRAW

Manager takes encouragement from Blues' last-gasp leveller against Leicester.


Lampard, speaking on the eve of this match, made no bones about his expectation over Everton’s fight to play Premier League football next season extending to the bitter end of this campaign.

He cautioned, too, against thinking the battle was won after victory over Manchester United 11 days ago.

And there was no hint of complacency from Everton in their bid for a third straight home win.

They fell behind nonetheless, and spent 85 minutes plus most of the five added at the end, trying to rescue something from the match.

Lampard was right on two counts: yes, complacency is a foe in any survival fight, and this is a scrap that could go to the wire. Burnley will certainly note the 21 points up for grabs over the next four weeks and think they have a shout.

Play with this sort of hunger and desire and refusal to yield, however, and Everton will take plenty more points from here.

Barnes applied the finishing touch for Leicester’s breakthrough – and it was a smart one, turned inside Jordan Pickford’s right post – but the goal belonged to more than half of the away team.

Lampard will be unhappy with how Leicester progressed from one end of the field to the other, no question about that – Everton managing only brief contact on the ball as it advanced.

For the visitors’ part, they would have been pleased with Schmeichel’s sweeping pass to Ricardo Pereira, hugging the right touchline.

Schmeichel had his eye in following an early round of keep-ball under acute pressure from Everton forwards sensing an opportunity to pinch possession.

This pass was dropped onto Pereira’s toes and the Portuguese progressed upfield via a crisp exchange with Youri Tielemans.

Pereira’s next pass was forwards for James Maddison, who duly squared for Kelechi Iheanacho.

The striker’s shot was blocked by Yerry Mina, playing for he first time since suffering a quadriceps injury at Newcastle United on 8 February, but the ricochet favoured Barnes, who confidently did the rest.

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WATCH VIDEO 02:01 Wed 20 Apr 2022

HIGHLIGHTS: EVERTON 1-1 LEICESTER CITY

Richarlison rescues point with injury-time equaliser.


Speaking of injuries, Everton feared they’d sustained another inside the opening 30 seconds. Coleman dropped to the floor, apparently bothered by his thigh, after a rescuing tackle on Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, who was closing on goal.

Coleman’s recovery following a tense minute or two was vocally received by the Evertonians. And those same supporters were clearing their throats in anticipation of something significant to cheer on 17 minutes.

Everton forced their way into Leicester’s box by dint of sheer persistence. Timothy Castagne, temporarily operating on the right of defence, was spooked by the presence of Anthony Gordon and lost his footing.

Gordon’s thumping cross landed with Richarlison in a hurry. The South American saw it late and couldn’t adjust his feet to convert into an unguarded portion of the net, instead sending the ball squirting beyond the far post.

Castagne was soon back in his favoured position but no more comfortable in competition with the effervescent Gordon.

The Belgian defender waited optimistically on his heels for a pass to arrive, only to witness Gordon steal in, quick as a flash, and fire the ball infield for Richarlison.

In trying to manipulate the ball to set up a goal attempt, Richarlison inadvertently invited the hastily-retreating Castagne to make good on his error.

The Gordon-Castagne duel counted as a source of optimism for Everton. Equally, there was an element of encouragement in the increasingly frantic football.

Leicester’s early control – see a 75-per-cent possession share and a let-off for Everton when Maddison scuffed into Pickford’s gloves at 1-0 – steadily gave way to a stretched, harum-scarum contest.

Jonny Evans slammed the door in the face of Richarlison, slipped in by Alex Iwobi. Vitalii Mykolenko similarly checked Barnes’ progress at the other end.

Iwobi was offering another hard-running turn, chasing and harrying Leicester’s tidy trio of midfielders. With the ball at his feet, Iwobi drove through the heart of the pitch, moving Everton from back to front speedily enough to discomfort Leicester.

There was home hope, too, in the space Leicester vacated in committing bodies to attack.

Gray, who rifled a 21st-minute shot into the body of Tielemans after dashing in from the left, came closest to a first-half equaliser.

A set-piece routine lifted directly from the training ground – and, by extension, the playbook of First-Team coach Paul Clement – saw Gray clip a left-wing corner low to Iwobi at the near post.

It appeared a mis-hit from Gray, at first. Not as the full picture emerged, though. Iwobi directed the ball back for Gray, on the move and flashing a rising shot narrowly past Schmeichel’s left upright.

Gray again, a few minutes earlier, swinging in a ball from the right but seeing Richarlison head over at the near post.

Iwobi carried the ball forwards for a strike over the top five minutes after the restart. And an effort from Gray, collecting Gordon’s smart return, went similarly high.

The catalyst for Everton, repeatedly, was Iwobi. It was his hounding that robbed Leicester and, ultimately, led to Gray’s attempt.

Moments previously, Iwobi’s closing and pressing tight to Leicester’s goalline, switched up the decibel levels inside Goodison.

Lampard had shifted the former Arsenal player into a more advanced position for the second 45 minutes, Iwobi operating ahead of Allan and Fabian Delph.

When Dele replaced Allan after 58 minutes, Iwobi retained his more offensive brief, leaving Delph to guard the back-four.

Rondon was next to enter the fray, on for Gray with 25 minutes remaining.

And the switch almost immediately paid off.

Pickford cut out the middlemen, punting a 60 yarder toward Rondon. He got enough of the ball to help it on for Richarlison, whose direct running forced a Leicester slip.

Schmeichel, however, dived right to beat out the right-footed attempt.

Leicester’s attacking threat was diminishing – but not, by any means, disappearing.

Maddison’s strike from distance forced Pickford into a flying stop to his right, while a slip from Coleman went unpunished after the away side appeared to run out of ideas and, consequently, options in the penalty area.

Another Maddison effort deflected behind off Delph, who earlier frustrated Iheanacho in comparable vein, and subsequently applied a decisive block on another low strike from Maddison.

Wesley Fofana headed wide from Dewsbury-Hall’s 79th-minute corner, as Everton walked a fine line between going all out for an equaliser and coughing up a second goal to seal their fate.

Then, on 83 minutes – shortly after Schmeichel clutched a Mina header down to his right – a golden opportunity.

Richarlison was six yards out and unencumbered when he met Gordon’s corner form the left. The headed connection, however, diverted the ball wide of the far post.

More frustration for Everton six minutes later. The delivery was supplied by Gordon, again, a right-sided corner this time.

Rondon met it with a front-post flick that tantalisingly threatened to either nestle inside Schmeichel’s right post, or connect with Dele in front of goal. It did neither, travelling behind in a rush.

Leicester, now, were clinging on for dear life.

Substitute Amartey hacked off the line from Coleman’s shot along the floor.

Evertonians, perhaps, feared the game was gone. But that was to reckon without Richarlison, bringing up his half-century of goals for the Club in the most dramatic fashion.

Richie On Cue

This seemed destined to go down as one of those nights for Richarlison.

Beginning the game at centre-forward, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin absent injured, before switching to a left-sided role following the introduction of Salomon Rondon, the 24-year-old had all of his side’s clearest opportunities.

A hard-hit first-half delivery from Anthony Gordon arrived at a furious pace, surprising Richarlison, who could only steer a shot off target from a promising position.

He had the ball stolen from his toes by Timothy Castagne in the penalty box following more smart approach play from Gordon – and shortly before half-time, darting in front of his marker at the near post, Richarlison headed over from Demarai Gray’s flat cross.

This is a player who doesn’t take no for an answer. Similarly, he’ll never die wondering.

He’d had a quiet spell in front of goal before the visit to Burnley a fortnight ago. But the manner in which Richarlison conclusively dispatched two penalties in a high-pressure contest at Turf Moor could have deceived observers into thinking he was on a hot streak.

Richarlison pounced on a slip to advance and bring a diving stop from Schmeichel after half-time.

But a header from close range, as Goodison held its breath expecting the net to burst, flashed wide of the far post.

With only seven minutes remaining, it felt like an important moment.

There was no hiding from Richarlison, the South American characteristically eager to have a telling say.

He positioned himself front and centre as Everton launched a final raid. And Richarlison’s desire and courage paid enormous dividends when the ball fell for the attacker to convert.

It was one of those nights for Richarlison, then. Just not in the way we thought until the second minute of added time. That was when it became the night Richarlison scored his 50th Everton goal, and one of his most important yet.