Oumar Niasse continued his dream comeback to the Everton first team with a game-winning brace against AFC Bournemouth at Goodison Park this afternoon.
The first half was similar to the majority of Everton’s first halves this season, slow and disappointing. There have been 19 goals scored in the four Premier League fixtures between these two clubs; an average of nearly five per game. But from the action in the first half it looked unlikely that particular stat would continue as dramatically. The stats didn’t make happy reading for either side, with Bournemouth failing to score in their last two away trips and Everton failing to find the net in their last three Premier League fixtures.
Those stats were looking ever so reliable as neither side seriously threatened the other’s goal in the first period. Wayne Rooney saw an early header flash wide and Dominic Calvert-Lewin did well to set up Ashley Williams for a shot but his effort was blocked. Everton had all the possession and were camped in the Bournemouth half, but their slow and predictable build-up play gave the Cherries little problems as they comfortably sat back and soaked up the pressure. The Blues had the territory but not the chances to go with it.
Rooney took an elbow to the face from Bournemouth centre back Simon Francis which left him down for some time. The referee should have immediately stopped the game but failed to and Rooney was down for over a minute, what do you expect from Martin Atkinson though? Rooney made way with blood streaming from his face and the game went on.
Just before the break Bournemouth had their only real opening of the first period. Charlie Daniels burst forward and was too quick for Gylfi Sigurdsson, slipping in Jermaine Defoe who did brilliantly on the stretch to hook the ball towards Junior Stanislas at the far post, but Cuco Martina was there to head out for a corner. That was to be the last action of a forgettable first forty five minutes.
Four minutes into the 2nd period and Bournemouth had the lead. I’d like to say it was undeserved but having tons of possession and doing nothing with it does not constitute as dominating a game. Daniels again got forward well and found Josh King in space. The Norwegian turned and drove at the Everton back line, gliding past Mason Holgate who committed himself naively, and smashed a low shot into the bottom corner of the Park End net. Just like that the visitors had a lead to defend and the Everton attack lacking spark and ideas had a big job on their hands
Just two minutes later and Bournemouth should have doubled their lead. Rooney cheaply gave the ball away around the centre spot and Stanislas fed King, who in turn slipped through Defoe. Bearing down on goal I’m almost certain not a single person in attendance wasn’t expecting the net to bulge when they saw the goal machine Defoe in that position, however his former Sunderland team mate Jordan Pickford thwarted him expertly. It would turn out to be a crucial stop from the young England keeper.
Koeman had to make a change and he did, introducing Tom Davies and Oumar Niasse for his first Premier League appearance for the Blues in over 18 months. Davies added composure and energy to the midfield that had been severely lacking for the previous hour or so. Everton were pressing but, much like the first half, were failing to create any real openings. It had been over 10 years since Everton last failed to score in four consecutive Premier League games but that looked set to change as The Cherries wouldn’t budge at the back. The Blues should have been level with 20 minutes to go, as Ashley Williams headed on from a Sigurdsson corner to Holgate, whose header looked destined for goal, but Andrew Surman made a heroic clearance off the line and kept the Cherries noses in front.
However Surman’s efforts would be in vain as Everton finally found an all important equaliser on 77 minutes. The ball broke for Davies in the middle and he brilliantly found Niasse on the edge of the box. The Senegalese’ first touch was impeccable and the finish explosive, leaving Asmir Begovic helpless and restoring parity for the Toffees. A first Premier League goal in the Royal Blue for the comeback kid.
In Everton’s four league games against Bournemouth, eight goals have been scored after the 80th minute and just five minutes after levelling, Everton made it nine. Jonjoe Kenny’s pace was causing issues down the right flank and he crossed in towards DCL. He controlled well and slid in Davies who fancied his chances and drove one towards the goal, Francis got his body in the way but the deflection looped up into the air and who was there to scramble it home? That man Oumar Niasse. The Gwladys Street erupted and the fairy tale was complete as outcast turned hero.
DCL had a chance to kill the game and give the Evertonian’s a comfortable last few minutes as Kenny and Davies combined brilliantly to provide the young forward with a great chance, but it wouldn’t be Everton if we made things easy now would it? In the end it wouldn’t matter as Bournemouth failed to create any big chances late on, they seemed stunned that they’d manage to throw the game away.
What a turnaround! Everton were looking their familiar sloppy and sluggish selves in attack and I personally didn’t see a way back into the game for them as Bournemouth looked comfortable in defence up until the last 20 minutes. Credit must go to Koeman, if not for his team selection and tactics but for his substitutions of which two were involved in the first goal and all three involved in the winner. Davies was brilliant when he came on and he is another player who needs to be starting games if we are to avoid these difficult comeback situations. His energetic yet composed style is so refreshing to watch and he is certainly up there with the best creative talents in our squad.
However all the credit should deservedly go to Oumar Niasse. He was wrote off, shipped out, criticised, ridiculed and even had the door seemingly shut on him by the same manager whose job he is now keeping safe. His two goal show won us the game today, he was in the right place at the right time and like every good striker he took his chances when they came. He has well and truly forced his way back into the first team picture and we all hope he continues to defy all the critics and keep firing in the goals.