We’ve been here before. Everton leading a game by a solitary goal and into the eightieth minute. The fans on the edge of their seats, knowing that we’re just a defensive gaffe away from slipping up and giving away points. The fact that we’re at Goodison Park only makes things more tense.
And then last night, Kieran Trippier slipped up for the second time and the latest error allowed Jack Harrison to hare down the left and [via Dwight McNeils’ miskick] find Abdoulaye Doucoure’s sidefoot home to make it 2-0 in the 86th minute. Still we couldn’t relax, especially against this very opponent, fully aware that we have previously conceded twice in two minutes in time added on against Newcastle United.
However, there is a sense of composure and self-belief in Sean Dyche’s side that we are not used to, and the Toffees went on to embark on a loooong passing sequence that not only kept the ball away from the Magpies, but also bled the clock down and was rightly serenaded with a chorus of “Olé” every time a royal blue shirt touched the ball.
Meanwhile, summer backup striker signing Beto has manfully plowed a lonely groove since joining the club. After scoring the crucial equalizer in his debut game for the Blues against Doncaster Rovers in the Carabao Cup, the goals simply would not come for the Portuguese forward. His work rate has been unparalleled as he chases long balls down and hunts down defenders in possession, but always it seemed the final touch was just lacking.
On the 29th pass of this sequence last night though, six minutes into time added on, and Beto finally got the monkey off his back. Nathan Patterson found the 25-year-old striker peeling off the backline and streaking down the right touchline. Beto drove hard at goal, and when in a shooting position muscled a hapless Fabian Schär away before opening up and then firing between goalie Martin Dubravka’s legs to end the night on a high.
His celebrations said it all, the relief on his face was that of a great weight lifted off his shoulders. Every Everton outfield player raced over to join the huddle, and the roar of the Goodison crowd echoing that of every Evertonian across the planet.
Speaking after the game, Beto was very grateful for the support he has received from the fanbase.
“It feels amazing, what a relief. This goal was so, so important to me.
“I’ve wanted to score a lot, at Goodison for these amazing fans. Since the day I came here they’ve just been saying ‘Beto Beto Beto’, and I just wanted to score for them. I want to dedicate this goal to them and to my teammates of course.
“It was amazing. It’s an unbelievable feeling. I don’t understand... these guys love me and I want to pay back all of the love that I get. For me, I don’t know how to explain it, these supporters are just incredible.
“It was a great goal. You can see we have quality and we know how to play football. Everybody touched the ball. It was an amazing goal - a team goal, not just a Beto goal but a team goal. I am really happy with the goal and this win.”
Stop what you're doing and watch Beto's post-match interview.— Everton (@Everton) December 8, 2023
Made up for the big fella. pic.twitter.com/jNnjsjkH76
90’s pop song Things Can Only Get Better (Beto) has been used by supporters and the public address system at Goodison alike for the forward, and Beto is very appreciative of the love.
“For me, it brings me confidence. You know for a striker it is always good to score and everybody knows when you don’t score you can feel a little bit in doubt, but I have had the support from my team and from the fans. I will take confidence from this and keep working. It’s my main things - work, work, work.
“It’s important, really important for us. With everything that is happening with us, this win is something that we knew we were capable of. For me, it’s really important for me and the whole team to give us confidence going into the next games and for the rest of the season.
“I enjoy [playing for Everton] a lot, I am really happy. It is just the weather I don’t like! It is a lovely club to play for, it is hard for me to explain. Since the day I came here, I just feel that these fans are different, the Club is different. I just want to give everything I’ve got for Everton.
“I hope [to hear that song many more times]! Things can only get.. not Beto.. but better! I believe in that, I believe it!”
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin continuing to be injury prone, having Beto in shape and in form will be critical for the Toffees going into the busy holiday period with minimal rest time between games.