Abdoulaye Doucoure’s winner in extra-time secured a barely deserved 2-1 win for Everton against Championship side Rotherham and edged them through to the FA Cup fourth round.
Doucoure latched on to a fine pass from James Rodriguez and slotted the ball home early in extra-time to give Everton a win they barely deserved.
Cenk Tosun gave Everton an early lead but Rotherham fought their way back into the game and deservedly equalised in the second half through Matthew Olosunde.
The Toffees were outplayed for large periods, with the result tough on Rotherham who deserve huge credit for the way they took the game to the Toffees.
It was yet another timely reminder that for all the talents of the first XI, there is precious little depth beyond that.
Ancelotti, as expected, made a raft of changes to his side, with starts for the likes of Robin Olsen, Tosun and Anthony Gordon. Lucas Digne also made a return to the side just six weeks after undergoing ankle surgery while James Rodriguez made his start in a month.
What you need in these tricky games is an early goal to settle the nerves, which is just what Everton got after nine minutes.
Gordon played a wonderful defence-splitting pass to release Tosun, who dinked the ball over the onrushing Jamal Blackman for his first Toffees goal for 14 months.
If that was supposed to set the platform for a comfortable afternoon, Everton did not read the script.
It was Rotherham who began to work their way into the game and ended up dominated most of the half.
The warning signs were there when Michale Ihiekwe and Michael Smith blasted efforts over the bar in quick succession.
Olosunde then went on a mazy run into the penalty area and fizzed in a near-post shot that was parried by Olsen. Matt Crooks’ effort was then blocked by a defender before Ben Wiles had a long-range shot parried away by the increasing busy Olsen.
Crooks when close again when his near post header from a corner appeared to clip the bar before landing on the roof of the net.
Everton were really rocking at this stage.
Olsen had to be quick off his line to punch the all away from Ihiekwe, while Jamie Lindsay had another shot saved form distance - though the offside flag was up.
The Toffees belatedly got a grip on the half as half-time approached and nearly doubled their lead when some lovely one-touch football from James , Coleman, Iwobi set up Tosun in the area, but his shot scuffed wide.
Ancelotti opted to make no changes to the side at the break, even though he easily could have done so given the sluggish opening period.
Things didn’t get much better at the start of the second when Olosunde burst into the area and went down, though the referee rightly waved away the appeals.
A swift Everton counter then freed Iwobi, who drove wide from the edge of the area.
Rotherham, though, continued to push forward and were eventually rewarded with an equaliser.
The defending was woeful, but the lively Olosunde did well to capitalise on a poor header by Tom Davies in the area and squeeze the ball into the bottom corner.
Olosunde caused havoc minutes later and found Wes Harding, who should have done better with his shot from inside the area.
Ancelotti had enough at this stage and brought on Abdoulaye Doucoure and Bernard to try and get a grip on proceedings.
If anything they got worse, giving the ball away cheaply, slipping over and generally being terrible.
On came Yerry Mina and Gylfi Sigurdsson for Davies and Digne. Everton’s squad players were not putting up a good audition.
It took 73 minutes for them to win a corner, it was that bad.
Everton thought they had stolen it when Tosun converted James’ free-kick with five minutes left, but it was disallowed by the most margin of VAR calls.
It was tight, but you know what, Everton didn’t deserve that luck they were so bad.
Off to extra time we went.
Two minutes in and Everton finally showed a bit of quality to regain the lead.
James found space in the centre of the park and fed the onrushing Doucoure, who stroked the ball beyond Blackman.
James went off shortly after for Niels Nkounkou, and the young full-back’s pace immediately put a spring in Everton’s step.
The game should have been put to bed minutes later when Bernard hit the post when well placed inside the area, with Coleman drilling wide on the rebound.
Coleman then had a deflected effort saved by Blackman as Rotherham finally showed signs of tiring.
The second half of extra time was held up by a head injury to Mina. Thankfully he was able to continue but the break appeared to revive Rotherham, Kyle Vassell busting into the area and seeing a goal-bound shot well blocked by the Colombian, who was now sporting a head band.
The Toffees did, though, see out the game to secure their place in the next round, though that is pretty much the only positive thing to emerge from the afternoon.