It was downright ugly at parts, but on paper it sure looks nice. Everton broke out of their shell and topped league champions Leicester City 2-0 with goals from Kevin Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku at the King Power Stadium on Boxing Day.
Football, as the Men in Blazers have told us, can sometimes be a bit crap. The first half of this match was a lot of crap. Neither side was particularly creative or interesting. The Foxes were the better team, but they did little with their possession. Kasper Schmeichel didn’t face a shot on target and Joel Robles made just a single (relatively easy) save in the opening 45 minutes.
Your time would have been better spent playing with that new toy you got for the holidays, or eating leftovers or watching one of the other Premier League matches going on. But your dedication was rewarded with a much more exciting second half.
Again, it was Leicester who had more ideas in the later stages of the game, but Everton were the ones to break the scoreless deadlock.
It came from nothing. In the 51st minute, Robles played a ball up the field from his box, but it turned out to be a beauty. He found Mirallas streaking up the middle of the pitch and hit him in stride. He brought the ball down, split the two centerbacks and then slotted a peach of a shot past Schmeichel’s sprawled out right foot. 1-0 to the good guys.
Was the lead deserved? Perhaps not. But you couldn’t really say that Leicester were markedly superior either. Who cares? I’ll take it!
The remainder of time was spent by both sides wasting good chances. Leonardo Ulloa blew a wide open header. And then later Idrissa Gueye couldn’t finish the Foxes off with a sliding shot. But it wouldn’t matter as his ‘mate Lukaku would do it for him minutes later.
At the death, Lukaku outmuscled Wes Morgan and then shook his defensive parter out of his shoes before placing a beauty of a shot past the keeper to make it 2-0 and get Everton the three points.
As bad as Everton have been as of late, this feels like a scenario where we have to take a look at all of the good things that happened today.
Robles stepped up in place of the injured Maarten Stekelenburg and did a very nice job. He commanded his box well. I lost count of how many balls he caught in the area, but it was good to see as that is something Robles has struggled with in the past.
Tom Davies came on and look fantastic with the ball. Lukaku again showed what a great finisher he is. The defense did what they had to, despite looking shaken at times. And Gueye was phenomenal in his normal role. That is, not a goalscorer.
This was a happy Boxing Day. The Blues are right back at it on Friday as they travel to face Hull City. Three more points? We certainly would hope so.