The Everton Under-23 have been stellar this season in the Premier League 2 competition, and with just two games to play are in pole position to win the title. A 4-1 thrashing of the Tottenham Hotspur Under-23 side has the young Blues up by five points ahead of Manchester City’s youth with just two games to play.
In a thrilling, wide open affair, the game featured several incredible goals, including outside-the-box screamers from Bassala Sambou and Kieran Dowell. The baby Blues have been fantastic all season, but this match was particularly notable for how strong a side Unsworth picked.
Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin drew in from the senior team, Brendan Galloway appeared out of thin air (presumably his futile West Brom loan has been terminated, finally), and Muhamed Besic enjoyed an outstanding 45' in his return from a serious knee injury.
| TEAM NEWS: @Mo_Besic returns to action for #EFCU23 against @SpursOfficial tonight.— Everton (@Everton) April 10, 2017
Watch live on Facebook https://t.co/ct2aB4ARJu pic.twitter.com/noLQnb1q6Y
Everton dominated the early parts of the game, but neither team was able to fashion what you could call a high quality chance. Lookman in particular was very wasteful on the ball. He was often a willing runner, and showed tantalizing dribbling ability, but any sort of end product was sorely lacking.
Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman will have been heartened by the performances of Besic and Galloway. Besic in particular was all over the pitch. He did the defensive dirty work, wasn't shy about laying out for a trademark tackle, and even showed good ability to kickstart the attack with his distribution. He was substituted after 45 minutes for Harry Charsley.
The chances would begin to come in bulk in the second half. A marauding run down the left by Galloway set up Lookman for an easy tap in to make it 1-0, and that's when Kieran Dowell started to take over.
After Lookman was replaced by Sambou, the substitute doubled Everton’s lead with an incredible curler inside the top left corner from outside the area. The Blues however let Spurs pull one back, just to make things interesting.
| Take a bow @bsambou1 and @kierandowell1! #EFCU23 pic.twitter.com/aFZMZPok0Y— Everton (@Everton) April 10, 2017
Dowell showed a great understanding with Calvert-Lewin and chipped in with a wonderful solo goal of his own to make it 3-1. He dribbled through the Spurs defense, cut in on his left foot, and unleashed a curling screamer into the corner. If you didn't know any better, you'd have thought it was Arjen Robben.
With just a handful of minutes to play Calvert-Lewin put the icing on the cake for the U23s with the fourth goal of the evening and the win eliminated Liverpool from title contention and put the Blues five points clear in the table with two games remaining.
Everton’s next game is on April 21st away at Chelsea, with the game to be played at the Recreation Ground in Aldershot. A win would seal the championship for the Toffees, rendering the season-ending game on May 8th at Goodison Park against the Reds moot.
Highlights and more analysis to come.