Abdoulaye Doucoure believes Saturday’s battling 2-2 draw away to Chelsea was more evidence of the growing character within this Everton side.
The Blues travelled to Stamford Bridge looking to build on last week’s big victory at home to Brentford. They faced an in-form Chelsea side, though, who started the evening bright and eager to build on their recent three-game winning run.
Despite the home side’s fast start, the Everton defence stood firm and went into half-time level. However, Joao Felix did manage to break the deadlock and put the hosts ahead seven minutes into the second half.
Not deterred, the Blues battled back and drew level when Doucoure latched onto a James Tarkowski knockdown to flick a header past the sprawling Kepa Arrizabalaga 17 minutes later, handing the Frenchman his second goal in as many away games.
“I think we defended very well in the first half but I think we forgot a little bit to play and the manager said that to us at half-time,” the midfielder told evertonfc.com.
“We came back in the second half and conceded a goal, but I think that was a wake-up call for us and after that the game was more open for us.
“We know we are very strong from set pieces. We have big defenders in Tarkowski and Keane and I think we felt confident about winning the first ball which then led to my goal.
“We know from set pieces we can be great, and we need to continue like this.”
🆚 Nottingham Forest ⚽️— Everton (@Everton) March 18, 2023
🆚 Brentford 🅰️
🆚 Chelsea ⚽️🅰️@abdoudoucoure16 🔥 pic.twitter.com/nsiyStQZlc
The home side looked to have landed a decisive blow when Reece James was brought down inside the box with under a quarter of an hour remaining. Kai Havertz stepped up and dispatched the resulting penalty.
Again, however, Everton fought back and got their reward when Ellis Simms came off the bench to score and seal a hard-fought share of the spoils in the dying minutes.
“I am so happy for him [Simms],” told Doucoure. “Everyone loves him - he's so funny! To score his first goal here is something that he is never going to forget, and we got the point because of him.
“We're very happy. We came up against a top side but we knew if we respected our game plan, we would have chances and we could get a result. I think that's how the game went today and we are happy with the point.”
After putting together a run of three undefeated Premier League matches for the first time since October, Everton now have a 16-day break for the latest round of internationals. They then host Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on Monday 3 April.
All-action Doucoure knows it was important to secure a positive result going into the break and adds the team must use their recent run as a platform to continue building upon.
“Of course we know every point is going to matter,” he admits. “Especially when you play and you want to get something. I think tonight we showed great character, and we have to build on it.”
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ELLIS SIMMS ON DREAM EVERTON GOAL