Battling Everton Secure Dramatic Draw At Chelsea

Everton produced a battling away performance to twice come from behind and earn a valuable point with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

A performance full of grit, character and moments of quality was crowned with just a minute of normal time remaining. Ellis Simms - back at the scene where he made his senior Everton debut in December 2021 - stepping off the bench to coolly slot a deserved late equaliser.

Joao Felix had opened the scoring seven minutes after the half-time interval, before Abdoulaye Doucoure levelled proceedings from close range after a well-worked corner routine.

Kai Havertz looked as though he had landed a decisive blow from the penalty spot with 14 minutes remaining, before Simms struck late on with his maiden senior Everton goal to earn a share of the spoils. 

Sean Dyche named an unchanged line-up from the side that started last weekend's 1-0 win over Brentford for Saturday evening's clash in the capital.

That meant Demarai Gray continued his role as the Toffees' central attacking outlet and Ben Godfrey retained his starting berth at left-back.

The midfield trio of Idrissa Gana Gueye, Amadou Onana and Abdoulaye Doucoure, meanwhile, began together for an eighth consecutive game.

Everton - in their changed pink and grey strip - set their stall out from the beginning to make life uncomfortable for their hosts, winning the coin toss and turning the teams around ahead of kick-off.

Chelsea created the first half chance in an opening 45 minutes that lacked clear-cut opportunities.

With the game barely five minutes old, a combination of Seamus Coleman and Michael Keane partly cleared Ben Chilwell's in-swinging corner, before Mateo Kovacic - Chelsea's captain for the night - flashed a venomous volley wide of Jordan Pickford's left-hand post.

At the other end, Dwight McNeil was showing signs of sharpness in an attacking sense and, after his ambitious 30-yard drive flashed over just after the quarter hour mark, he threatened with a mazy run that began inside Everton's half but would ultimately be thwarted by Kalidou Koulibaly's intervention at the crucial moment inside Chelsea's penalty area.

The deadlock was broken seven minutes into the second period by the home side.

Chilwell's cross from the left flank was cleared by Keane but only as far as Felix, who angled a low left-footed shot across Pickford and in via the base of the post.

Everton produced a spirited response, though, and immediately went about drawing level.

That moment came close just before the hour, when McNeil's inviting free-kick was met by Michael Keane's header - but the defender could not manage to apply enough purchase on his effort to divert it on target and the ball flashed agonisingly across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.

The Toffees did draw level on 68 minutes when, from the second of back-to-back corners, McNeil's deep delivery was headed back into the danger area by James Tarkowski and nudged home by Doucoure. Chilwell's desperate attempt to clear on the line came too late and the referee signalled a goal to spark scenes of jubilation in the sold-out away end.

But there would be a sting in the tail for Dyche's men.

Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Reece James was adjudged to have been fouled in the penalty area after a sweeping move down the right channel - and Havertz sent Pickford the wrong way from the spot to land a damaging setback.

But the visitors rallied again and chased another route back into the game in the closing stages, with Simms introduced from the bench as Dyche switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

McNeil came close to notching a leveller, but his low drive flashed past Kepa's far post with substitute Simms just out of reach.

But the young striker went one better in the 89th-minute, latching on to Doucoure's slide-rule pass before brushing off a challenge from the experienced Kalidou Koulibaly and cooly dispatching a shot past Kepa.

Everton now face a 16-day break with the international break, with the next game set for Monday 3 April against Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park.