Over a month into the 2020/21 season and the Toffees have, for the first time, seen a result other than a win. Heading into yesterday’s Continental League Cup fixture against Manchester City, Everton had a record of 5–0 in all competitions. While a 3–1 scoreline may seem disheartening, the full extent of the match contradicts the lopsided result.
As the only preview to the FA Cup Final, to be played on November 1st, Everton’s opening match of the Continental Cup revealed a lot about the two sides set to meet in just over three weeks. Everton Head Coach Willie Kirk opted for a 3-4-3 — the first time he has utilized such a formation all season — moving Danielle Turner into the left-wing position, while Damaris Egurrola slotted in at left back. Kirk later altered formations to counter the speed of City’s electric wingers — Chloe Kelly and Jess Park.
Early pressure from City led to several chances, but backup goalkeeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela was alert to the danger, making a handful of saves, keeping the score level.
Despite conceding a majority of the possession in the opening minutes of the game, Everton broke the deadlock in the 19’. A ball in from the right side of the field fell to Turner, who was in acres of space, and she hit a left-footed shot past a charging Karen Bardsley. A goal against the run of play had the Toffees up early.
With City upping the pressure, it was Rose Lavelle breaking through Everton’s defense in the 27’. Even though the American midfielder was ruled offside, Korpela made a brilliant diving save, highlighting her poise in the first half.
Deploying a back-three against an offensive juggernaut such as City is always a risk. The hope is that wing players will drop back and defend when necessary, with a high level of trust being placed on the capabilities of the three defenders to cover more ground.
In the opening 30 minutes, City exposed Everton’s defense on multiple occasions. The Citizens were running at Ingrid Moe Wold and Damaris, who didn’t have much in the way of cover. An in-game adjustment saw Turner drop to left back, while Damaris reprised her defensive midfielder role. The switch proved to be prudent, as Turner did well to limit Park on the right wing.
Even though City dominated throughout the first 45’, Everton took a one-goal lead into the half.
A fast start to the second half for City saw Kelly set-up Lavelle, who drove a shot straight at Korpela.
In the 51’, Korpela chopped a back-pass, gifting City the ball; the turn of possession forced Wold to concede a corner. On the ensuing play, Alex Greenwood sent a low, driving cross into the box, meeting Lavelle who knocked the ball past Korpela to even the score.
Lavelle’s goal served as an awakening remedy for the Toffees. After a spell of possession in the 57’, Claire Emslie hit a pass across the top of the 18 to Nicoline Sørensen, who blasted a low shot, ultimately winning a corner.
About ten minutes after Sørensen’s attempt, substitute Valérie Gauvin picked off an errant pass and forced yet another smart save from Bardsley.
With Everton having failed to regain the lead, City took control in the 76’. Georgia Stanway was able to tear down the right wing and fire a cross towards Kelly, who had gotten the better side of Wold. Kelly — the former Toffee — flicked the ball past Korpela, who managed to get a hand on the shot but couldn’t prevent the goal.
With the energy having spilled out of the affair, Park scored one of the quirkier goals of the season in the closing stages of the contest. She dribbled around Turner, found herself hugging the end-line and somehow lifted a shot past Korpela from the rightest of angles.
️ | 'The fact we're very disappointed to come away defeated tonight shows how much we have progressed and developed.'@WillieKirk reacts to our #ContiCup opener at Man City... pic.twitter.com/VR4iRIBNip— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) October 7, 2020
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Down 2–1 in the 84’, Korpela again flashed her lightning-quick reflexes when she saved a point-blank shot from Lavelle. Had it not been for Korpela’s resiliency in net, the score could have been far greater. To have a backup keeper with the quality Korpela does truly illustrates the depth of this Everton squad.
1. Danielle Turner
Containing the agile Jess Park is no easy task, but Turner did well to limit the production of the 18-year-old. Turner also displayed her versatility against City, operating as the left-sided midfielder in a 3-4-3 formation — one that is new to this Everton side. Even in an unfamiliar position, Turner was a threat on the wing, moving the ball up the field and tracking back to defend.
2. Tinja-Riikka Korpela
In her first minutes of the 2020/21 campaign, Finland’s number one showed no signs of rust. Even though Sandy MacIver is the undisputed starting goalkeeper for the Toffees, Korpela plays a vital role for Willie Kirk’s side. Despite a loss, Everton were in good hands against City with Korpela in net.
3. Maéva Clemaron
The French international is a talented facilitator and disruptor on the pitch. Clemaron sat in front of the back three, even acting as an additional defender against City’s dynamic attack. Not only did she spark several moves up the pitch, Clemaron made tough tackles, prohibiting City from establishing a consistent rhythm in the final third.
Everton (3-4-3): 23-Tinja-Riikka Korpela; 2-Ingrid Moe Wold, 12-Damaris Egurrola, 20-Megan Finnigan; 3-Danielle Turner (c), 14-Nicoline Sørensen, 13-Abbey-Leigh Stringer, 21-Maéva Clemaron; 7-Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, 10-Simone Magill, 11- Claire Emslie
Substitutes: 19-Valérie Gauvin for Boye-Hlorkah 57, 30-Poppy Pattinson for Magill 57, 22-Rikke Sevecke for Damaris 65, 17-Lucy Graham for Clemaron 73, 8-Izzy Christiansen for Sørensen 73
Unused Substitutes: 1-Sandy MacIver, 26-Grace Clinton
Goals: Turner 19
Manchester City (4-3-3): 1-Karen Bardsley; 3-Demi Stokes, 6-Steph Houghton, 14-Esme Morgan, 27-Alex Greenwood; 8-Jill Scott, 21-Rose Lavelle, 24-Keira Walsh; 9-Chloe Kelly, 10-Georgia Stanway, 16-Jess Park
Substitutes: 22-Sam Mewis for Scott 62, 19-Caroline Weir for Stanway 76, 11-Janine Beckie for Lavelle 91
Substitutes not used: 4-Gemma Bonner, 7-Laura Coombs, 18-Ellen White, 26-Ellie Roebuck, 34-Karima Benameur Taieb
Goals: Lavelle 51, Kelly 76, Park 93
Bookings: Walsh 60, Stokes 89