Sandro Ramirez opened his Everton account inside 30 seconds but it wasn’t enough for victory as a classy Sevilla outfit impressed.
Sevilla, who finished 4th in La Liga last term, were certainly the better side but it was an encouraging performance from The Toffees who have looked stronger and more competitive with each pre-season game.
It was Everton who started the brighter of the two sides with Ramirez finding the back of the net after just 30 seconds.
Pickford played an accurate long ball forward finding Mason Holgate, the defender brought it down and gave it to Tom Davies, who instinctively looked forward and played Sandro through on goal. The Spaniard coolly rounded goalkeeper David Soria and slipped the ball home from a narrow angle. It will no doubt have been a relief for him to get off the mark and lets hope that its the first of many in the royal blue jersey.
The visitors reacted well to going a goal down and began to dominate possession with former Blackburn and Stoke midfielder Steven Nzonzi going close and Leighton Baines clearing an effort off the line.
The game was being played at a good tempo for a friendly with both sides looking to get forward and play. It was also a feisty affair and the term ‘friendly’ wasn’t the best way to describe it. There were four bookings handed out by referee Mike Jones in the first half alone with Joaqin Correa, Davy Klaassen, Clement Lenglet and Davies all receiving cautions.
It was encouraging to see Everton happy to get physical and try and boss the opposition about, especially as our curtain raiser with Stoke next Saturday will likely be a physical contest.
Jordan Pickford impressed throughout on his Goodison Park debut with a number of fine saves and impressive tactical awareness and communication with his rear-guard. He was forced into action just after the half hour mark as Everton sloppily lost possession deep in the own half and French striker Wissam Ben Yedder advanced on goal. Pickford was quick to narrow the angle and expertly thwarted the attempt on goal. He was called upon again less than a minute later as the classy Ever Banega worked himself the space for a shot but it was never going to beat the Blues’ record signing.
Half time arrived and Ronald Koeman will have been happy to go in ahead as Sevilla played some fine football and probably deserved a goal for their opening period efforts. It was certainly a feisty first 45 minutes, which will help to prepare Everton for the return of the Premier League.
Everton made five changes at the break with Gareth Barry, Kevin Mirallas, Ashley Williams, Idrissa Gueye and Cuco Martina coming on to replace Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Morgan Schneiderlin, Wayne Rooney and Klaassen. Unfortunately these changes did little to rejuvenate the Blues who began the 2nd half slowly, looking jaded and lacking focus as passes went astray and Sevilla found gaping spaces in the final third.
Pickford certainly wasn’t lacking focus or sharpness as he was called into to action on a couple of occasions in the opening 10 minutes after the break, but he was helpless to stop Sevilla equalising on 57 minutes. The talented Correa jinked his way into the penalty area, with the Everton defenders reluctant to challenge him in fear of giving away a spot kick. He managed to squeeze the ball through a tight gap into the path of Banega, who fired his shot neatly into the bottom corner and deservedly got the Spaniards off the mark.
Just three minutes later and Los Rojiblancos were in front. Former Manchester City striker Nolito advanced towards the box and was clumsily brought down by veteran central midfielder Gareth Barry. Replays showed that the forward was brought down just outside the box but Mark Jones pointed to spot. Banega stepped up and doubled his and Sevilla’s tally, and in all honesty I don’t think any Evertonian could say the visitors didn’t deserve the lead.
Everton tried to get back on terms but failed to create any clear cut chances. Kevin Mirallas wasted a good opportunity from a free kick, firing it into the wall. Idrissa Gueye also had a go from range but dragged his shot well wide of the mark.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, Koeman decided to freshen things up and brought on the youthful exuberance of Ademola Lookman, Jonjoe Kenny and Muhamed Besic. It took Besic all of three minutes to find his way into the referee’s notebook with a typically robust challenge on Nolito, good to have you back Mo!
Bringing Lookman on was just the spark Everton needed to grab the leveller, with the young attacker proving to be a menace for the Sevilla defence. The opposition backed off the speedy teenager allowing him to enter the box and slip in Dominic Calvert-Lewin who forced a save out of Soria, however DCL was in a offside position and the goal wouldn’t have counted if he had managed to force it home.
Everton got their equaliser with 10 minutes remaining with Lookman again involved, cutting in from the right hand side and causing a real headache for Sevilla. He found Mirallas in the box who cleverly turned his man, but he was hauled down before he could get a shot away. Referee Jones correctly pointed to spot and the Belgian stepped up himself to score with a rather unconvincing penalty, all square again.
That's how the game would finish, but both sides had chances to come away with the victory. Mirallas was played in by Martina and raced into the box, the ball got stuck under his feet but he still managed to get a shot away, but it was just wide of the Gwladys Street’s right hand upright.
With just 3 minutes to play it was Sevilla’s turn to go close with Colombian striker Luis Muriel‘s header being denied by the woodwork. The ball then found its way out to Danish international Michael Krohne-Delhi who forced another smart save from Pickford.
Lookman’s 15-minute cameo was an impressive one and will surely delight Blues everywhere as the new season approaches. The impressive young star nearly won it for Everton, driving a superb left footed strike towards goal which was heading for the top corner, but David Soria had other ideas and made a fine save. From the resulting corner Mirallas whipped it in to the near post, the ball was flicked on to the far stick and Ashley Williams had the goal at his mercy, but his header was straight at the ‘keeper and it proved to be the final chance of the game.
So a share of the spoils today with an impressive Sevilla side. Everton have grown in confidence as pre-season has progressed and this match was a good run out and the perfect dress rehearsal for next week’s curtain raiser at Goodison.