Quite the disappointment. Everton never looked like winning and, in the end, were lucky to grab a point as they drew 2-2 with Hull City at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night. The Toffees goals came from an awkward own goal off of a corner kick and then a late Ross Barkley equalizer.
The Blues had to come from behind twice. Hull City took their first lead just seven minutes in. A Robert Snodgrass corner kick found Michael Dawson at the far post. Dawson slotted the ball home and gave the hosts a 1-0 edge.
Right before halftime, Everton evened things up on a corner kick of their own. Kevin Mirallas put a delivery into the box. Hull’s David Marshall and Dieumerci Mbokani both went for the ball and collided in mid-air, sending it into the back of their own net.
In the 65th minute, it was Snodgrass again off of a set piece that gave the Tigers a second lead. Leighton Baines lightly fouled (I guess?) the Hull attacking player at the top of the penalty area. This set the scene for Snodgrass, who then curled a beauty of a dead ball into the goal. On replay, you could see Joel Robles got his entire hand to the ball, yet could not keep it out of the net. He will surely be disappointed.
After that, the Blues began to get their attack going a bit and eventually Barkley got their second goal to earn the team a point. It was an odd moment as the Hull defense put no pressure at all on Baines and simply let him send a cross into the box. Barkley got on the end of it and put a free header into the onion bag. And there is your final score: 2-2.
There is no way around it, this was a poor performance from Everton. The opening five or ten minutes were dreadful as Hull City pushed their visitors around and scored too easily. And then in the second half, the Blues began slowly as well. It felt almost like they expected to walk all over Hull and never really started playing until they had a deficit to make up.
Gareth Barry was a weak link today. There is a reason he was the first player yanked off. He is looking slow, his passes lack accuracy and his touch wasn’t crisp. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Tom Davies or Tom Cleverley start next time out over the 35-year-old.
The service for Romelu Lukaku was pretty terrible as well. He had to constantly fight for the ball. Mirallas and Enner Valencia were both working hard, but they couldn’t manage to get many crosses into the big Belgian.
On a positive, Ronald Koeman is sending a few messages by giving the youngsters a real chance. Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin were the first two names off the bench. Gerard Deulofeu wasn’t even on the team sheet. This is a true changing of the guard and everyone is on notice. I won’t go as far as saying the young ones were “impressive” in this one —Calvert-Lewin actually blew a huge chance— but they are getting Premier League minutes ahead of some well-known veterans. That means something in the locker room to be sure.
This result made sense in the year that was 2016. It was bad. But certain aspects of it make you excited for 2017. Everton are back in action on Monday, January 2, 2017 against Southampton. Let’s hope the year starts with three points at Goodison Park.