If you thought this would be a slow and dour affair considering Leicester City just played on Thursday and were probably down after being eliminated from the Europa Conference League and Everton would play a cagey defensive game, you could not have been more wrong.
Once again the Foxes started the game on fire and could have led again a couple of minutes in but Yerry Mina slid in after Patson Daka rounded Jordan Pickford to save a certain goal. The Blues were rocked and both sides looked shaky in defence using three centrehalves, but it was Everton who took the lead from a stunning first goal for the club from Ukrainian full back Vitalii Mykolenko. Alex Iwobi’s cross found him just outside the box and his sweetly-struck volley nestled low in the far corner to put the Blues ahead and was just reward for the 3,000-plus fans who had been singing their hearts out from well before the game.
However, disaster is never quite far away from Everton’s defence when they go three-in-the-back. Abdoulaye Doucoure had led a charge forward, passing the ball out wide to Demarai Gray back at his old hunting grounds, and his low cross was met by the Malian midfielder, but he wasn’t able to put enough on the shot and it wriggled through Kasper Schmeichel, bobbled back off the post and the goalie collected before Doucoure could follow up. Straight from that chance, Leicester moved the ball upfield, Mina mistimed his header and then inexplicably Seamus Coleman closed his eyes and jumped, and ended up clattering into Mina and both fell to the ground, leaving Daka all alone and he made no mistake this time tucking it past Pickford.
The game continued to be played at a breakneck pace after that, but it was Everton who scored the next goal, taking advantage of Leicester’s poor defensive record from setpieces. Gray’s corner was met by an unmarked Richarlison, his header was tamely patted away by Schmeichel and Mason Holgate was on hand to nod it home to drive the away fans into delirium. As news filtered in from the Emirates that Arsenal were leading Leeds United who also had a man sent off, Everton climbed out of the relegation zone and they would stay there at the final whistle.
The second half was basically a succession of Leicester trying a series of crosses and shots from distance, but that is when Pickford stepped up and dragged Everton to three points with a series of incredible saves. The hosts even threw on Jamie Vardy but it was not enough and the Blues did just enough to see out the clock, three desperately-needed points in the bank!
Everton finally made Leicester pay for their poor defensive record from setpieces with Richarlison unmarked from a corner and Holgate following up with no Foxes in the vicinity.
Jordan Pickford, Man of the Match for the second straight game. Those six points are all due to him. When the Blues have needed him the most, he has been there, an absolute rock for the Toffees.
Finally any piece written about Everton would be remiss if the fans are not given full credit. From seeing off the side in large numbers yesterday as they left Finch Farm, to showing up at the King Power and singing out loud well before the game started, to cheering on the team all game long making the 3,000-plus voices sound like ten times that number, all the way to staying back after the final whistle to serenade the players, manager and coaching staff, these are scenes like we have never seen before, with the most struggle-weary eyes misting and battle-hardened hearts softening.