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Brighton 0-0 Everton - Instant Reaction | Bore draw

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Dreadful stalemate means the Blues lose more ground in European quest

Brighton & Hove Albion v Everton - Premier League
A truly terrible match
Photo by Glyn Kirk - Pool/Getty Images

Those passports might have to gather dust for another year yet. A soporific goalless draw at Brighton made it four winless league games in a row for Everton and left them further behind in the race for European qualification. Which, in truth, they look miles off being good enough for.

The chief mitigating factor will be that Carlo Ancelotti’s hands were tied. Which they were, given Everton named eight of nine possible substitutes, with Alex Iwobi accounting for 150 of the 153 Premier League appearances between them. All of the other seven were youth players; two of them goalkeepers.

But even still, even by Everton’s samey, predictable standards, this was genuinely tedious stuff. Deployed as a back five with Mason Holgate in midfield, Ancelotti’s men mustered only one really meaningful venture forward in the first half, when Tom Davies headed wide from Seamus Coleman’s cross after the Irishman’s lung-busting run.

After the break, more of the same. James Rodriguez forced Robert Sanchez to parry from a tight angle in Everton’s first shot on target on the 71st minute. From the resulting corner, nothing. It was, again, that kind of night.

And while Robin Olsen in the Everton goal was the busier keeper - Neal Maupay, Adam Lallana and Leandro Trossard all threatened in particular - Brighton were not much better. From beginning to end, this was classic end-of-season fodder, to the extent that you could be forgiven for thinking Everton had already booked their flights to Barcelona and Juventus, and Brighton were already secure of safety.

There really isn’t much more to say about this game, to be honest. Iwobi came on and the meandering pattern of this bland football match merely continued. As did Nathan Broadhead, for his top-flight debut at 23, after a five-minute warm-up.

You can blame it, to an extent, on Everton’s absentees. With Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Allan, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and André Gomes now all sidelined, it’s tough going for Ancelotti to have to contend with an injury list as long as the Great Wall of China.

But surely, with the likes of Rodriguez, Lucas Digne and Richarlison all present, a side that have already won at Anfield, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the King Power Stadium could have found it within themselves to at least lay a glove on a Brighton side with two home wins from 16 league games.

Everton, who have yet to win at the Amex Stadium in four visits, stay eighth, a point and a place behind Friday’s Goodison Park visitors, Tottenham. On the evidence of both this and of Spurs’ dismal defeat to Manchester United yesterday, fasten your seatbelts for that one.