MATCH CENTRE

Late Keane Screamer Seals Everton Draw

Never write off Sean Dyche’s Everton.

Last time out at Chelsea it was a late, late leveller from Ellis Simms. Back at the Grand Old Lady, it was the sweetest of strikes from Michael Keane as an enthralling contest entered injury-time that gave the Blues a well-earned point against Tottenham Hotspur.

Another spirited display didn’t look to be enough when Abdoulaye Doucoue was shown a straight red card just before the hour mark for a shove on Harry Kane, before the England striker netted from the penalty spot minutes later after Keane has brought down Cristian Romero.

But Everton refused to give in. And after piling on the pressure despite the numerical disadvantage, a straight red card for substitute Lucas Moura for a late challenge on Keane two minutes from time offered a lifeline.

Keane then turned hero in dramatic fashion, smashing a superb 25-yard drive past Hugo Lloris to spark jubilant scenes around Goodison.

Dyche kept faith with the same XI that battled to a hard-earned 2-2 draw at Chelsea before the recent international break.

That meant a 350th Premier League appearance in blue for captain Seamus Coleman, while Demarai Gray once again led the attack, with Ellis Simms – who hit the late leveller at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago for his maiden Club goal – among the substitutes.

Last time at Goodison, the Blues took the lead after just 35 seconds when Dwight McNeil drilled home what proved to be the winner against Brentford.

It was so nearly early joy this time around, too, as Amadou Onana won possession on halfway and fed Alex Iwobi who raced towards goal, produced a slick backheel to free up space and square to Gray. The forward followed up with a trademark cut back inside but could only bend his finish over the bar.

Spurs showed their attacking quality moments later, though, when Eric Dier picked out Pedro Porro’s run inside the area as the Spain international smacked a low drive into the legs of Jordan Pickford.

A frantic start ensued within the opening 10 minutes, Harry Kane seeing his 12-yard shot cleared off the line by Michael Keane, before the Blues centre-back threatened at the other end, controlling McNeil’s low free-kick and hitting a half-volley on the turn over the bar from the edge of the area.

Kane – who became England’s all-time record goalscorer during the March international break – kept the chances coming when, with 15 minutes on the clock, he nodded wide from Ivan Perisic’s pinpoint right-wing cross. Next up, Iwobi showed sweet skill to drift past Clement Lenglet but couldn’t find a teammate from the right byline.

Having been such a danger going forward since Dyche’s arrival as manager, McNeil highlighted the defensive part of his game on 20 minutes as another dangerous cross came in from Perisic that Porro seemed certain to turn in at the far post, only for the former Burnley man to get a crucial touch and deflect the ball out of play.

An all-action first quarter of this contest got a momentary breather to allow Muslim players, including Gana, Onana and Doucoure, to stock up on energy while they fast for Ramadan.

When play resumed, however, so too did the chances, Iwobi looping in a cross from the right flank that Onana nodded over from 12 yards out when well placed.

Tottenham looked odds-on to break the deadlock with just two minutes left of the first half as Son Heung-Min was played clean through by Dejan Kulusevski, only for Pickford to save the forward’s low shot with his legs. The South Korean was eventually flagged for offside but England’s number one was still given a rousing reception around Goodison for his efforts.

There was no let-up seconds after the restart, either, and Everton really should have been ahead. Onana did well to pounce on Dier and dispossess the England defender, enabling Gana to lead a 3-v-2 attack from the edge of the area. Yet, with the option to slip in Doucoure looking the better decision, the Senegalese opted to go for goal and smashed his finish over the bar.

The Blues began taking control of the encounter, enjoying more possession in their attempts to find a breakthrough, only to lose the initiative just before the hour mark.

Kane pushed Gray over close to the dugouts and, as the referee blew for a free-kick, followed that up with a meaty challenge on Doucoure which the midfielder took exception to. A melee followed and, as the Mali international raised his hands to Kane’s face, the striker went down leading to Doucoure’s dismissal and Kane being shown a yellow card.

Ten men it was, then, for Everton to plough on with but worse was to come six minutes later as Perisic headed a cleared corner back into the area and Keane clipped the feet of Cristian Romero, enabling Kane to slot past Pickford from the penalty spot.

Everton’s commitment and heart has been evident under Dyche and, despite that double suckerpunch, the Blues showed great spirit to claw their way back.

First, Gray twisted and turned on the edge of the area before drilling a low drive into the arms of Hugo Lloris, and the French keeper then tipped over Gana’s first-time shot following good work by Gray. From the resulting corner, Keane headed down into the arms of Lloris from four yards out.

Simms and Vitalii Mykolenko were brought on for Gray and Coleman with 13 minutes to go, the latter screaming for a penalty for handball when his shot from just inside the area  cannoned off Porro.

The Blues were given late hope when, with two minutes remaining, substitute Moura was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Keane.

And it was the defender who was to pick himself up to become the late, late hero. Much has been said among Evertonians’ for Keane’s striking prowess and he showed it in abundance as the game approached injury-time. Collecting the ball from 25 yards out, Keane looked up and unleashed a quite stunning strike that curled past Lloris into the top right-hand corner to send Goodison wild.

Six minutes of added-time were signalled as both sides pushed for a winner. But Everton could be proud with bagging a point that moved them up to 15th in the Premier League table.