Up and down game from the attack
For a while in this match things looked like they would stay the same from an attacking perspective. When faced with having to play out of the back and pass the ball into attacking areas Everton have struggled this season.
Brighton & Hove Albion was largely able to stay compact in defense and rarely allow Everton to get out on the break. Usually this means Everton will aimlessly pass and cross the ball and get very few scoring opportunities. Now this was the case for a large portion of the game. Save for Richarlison’s first half set piece goal, Everton didn’t threaten the Brighton defense all that much.
After the half Everton looked much more dangerous. The attack seemed to be making progress and after a couple of 72nd minute substitutions, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was able to break the deadlock and put Everton up. Despite how the match ended, this was a positive sign from Everton. They were able to take back the lead after trailing early, even though they would surrender it again in painful fashion.
Borderline penalty call kills the momentum
Up until the penalty call for Aaron Connolly it looked as though Everton might pull this one out. Neither team looked ready to add to the scoreline and that would mean a well deserved come from behind victory for the Toffees, a first under Marco Silva.
The penalty call in particular is a tough one. By the letter of the law, it’s understandable that the foul was called and the penalty given. But in practice the foul seemed more worthy of an Academy Award than anything else. Regardless of the veracity of the call, the penalty was scored and it really seemed to put Everton on the back foot.
A draw would have obviously been a less than desirable outcome from this match, but a point is a point. However, Everton seemed to wilt under the newfound pressure put upon them which led to their inevitable collapse.
The worst ending possible
Could there have been a more Everton ending to this match than what occurred? A cross that appeared to be harmlessly rolling across the face of the goal, put into the net by none other than Lucas Digne. It’s a script that almost feels too cruel to exist.
However, this ending did feel almost inevitable. As I said before, Everton did not seem up to the challenge of closing this match out. The moment their tenuous lead vanished their fighting spirit went with it. This tendency to collapse under pressure is arguably a bigger issue than a stagnant offense and an inability to defend set pieces. It’s worse because this isn’t an issue that can be fixed with tactics, it’s a human problem, one that seems to have infected this team to the core.