WATFORD, United Kingdom
-Only in the fullness of time will we learn how important these three points
were for Everton.
But, boy, when Theo Walcott rolled in the winning goal at
Vicarage Road and Everton’s bench emptied in jubilant celebration – this felt
The game had entered its 90th minute when the indefatigable
Richarlison burst forwards with the ball at his feet, defenders trailing in his
He’d been given the bird by home fans but kept his cool all
afternoon. And he remained in iceman mode, slipping a pass to his right for
Moise Kean, breaking his neck to join the attack.
Kean could hear Walcott screaming for possession to his
right and supplied his teammate accordingly.
Ben Foster hurried across to close the angle, leaving
Walcott little margin for error.
Walcott was unfazed and stroked his finish inside the near
post to complete the most brilliant come-from-behind success. And ensure
Everton hit back from the disappointment of losing that two-goal advantage
against Newcastle United in the most emphatic fashion.
Everton were 2-0 down after 42 minutes and down to 10 men
following Fabian Delph’s 71st-minute dismissal.
All this against a side in buoyant mood and unbeaten in five
home Premier League games.
Consider, too, it had been 35 top-flight fixtures since Everton
conceded the opening goal in a game and won.
Yerry Mina launched the comeback from two behind – Watford
having led through goals from Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra.
Centre-back Mina bundled in a goal for Everton on the cusp
of first-half stoppage time and three minutes later headed his team level.
Everton had their backs to the wall following Pereyra’s
blistering strike three minutes before half-time, make no mistake.
But Carlo Ancelotti’s team took a collective breath and back
Mina got the first touch on Lucas Digne’s right-wing corner
bang on the 45-minute mark to instigate a penalty-area tussle for possession.
Mason Holgate nudged he ball goalwards and Ben Foster could only shove it as
far as Mina to turn home.
Everton, then, to all intents and purposes appeared destined
to go in for half-time with a foothold in the contest.
As it transpired, the Blues returned to the changing room
reflecting on a blink-and-you-would-miss-it comeback.
Everton won another corner, this one on the left and
delivered by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The ball appeared to hang in the air for an age. Mina eyed
it all the way, connecting with a header which flew beyond the startled Foster.
The Colombian strode back to his own half wearing one of
those ‘let’s get back to business’ faces following his first goal.
After the second, all bets were off, Mina dancing an
unfettered celebratory jig and engulfed by his teammates.
Deulofeu’s close control and composure had a big say in
Watford taking the lead.
The Spaniard was on the stretch to prevent Etienne Capoue’s
raking pass from disappearing into touch.
Deulofeu hooked the ball back into his orbit before waiting
for the underlapping Masina to arrive in the box.
Masina’s first touch invited the defender to have a go and
he duly walloped a left-footed strike across Jordan Pickford and inside the
Everton keeper’s left post.
Pereyra doubled Watford’s advantage when he collected a pass
from Troy Deeney on the right of the box and smote the ball past Pickford, who
had no chance.
Alex Iwobi and Richarlison combined five minutes into the
pair’s respective returns from injury absences.
Iwobi, out for the past six weeks with a hamstring problem
bustled down the left to square for Richarlison.
The Brazilian struck first time but was off balance and his
effort fizzed over.
That strike was sandwiched by two near identical episodes,
Mina hitting balls over the top but Richarlison unable to gather.
He was closer second time round, centre-half Christian
Kabasele getting the run of the ball to deny the Everton man an unchecked run
Indeed, Everton had started the quicker of the two teams.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin charged down Kabasele from kick-off
and by the interval Everton had claimed 62 per cent possession and aimed three
of six shots on target.
Pickford sped from his goal to thwart the advancing Pereyra
and set Everton on the attack after 18 minutes.
The keeper didn’t stop at baulking Pereyra, feeding a pass
down the line for Richarlison.
Richarlison popped up at the end of the move, too, darting
between challenges from Etienne Capoue and Nathaniel Chalobah – but ultimately
floored by Chalobah’s legitimate challenge.
Abdoulaye Doucoure was too high with an improved overhead
And Digne shut down the same Watford player when he crashed
a shot from 12 yards.
Almost immediately Digne’s enthusiastic tackle on Pereyra
got the home players’ and fans’ backs up.
The Frenchman’s challenge was fair and that much was
confirmed by a VAR review.
The same means was used to determine Pereyra had done
nothing especially untoward when he left something on Digne by way of
retribution soon after.
Calvert-Lewin was thwarted by Kabasele and fellow defender
Craig Cathcart combining in unconventional fashion to smuggle behind a whipped Sigurdsson
free-kick two minutes after the restart.
Deulofeu raced past Djibril Sidbie but had his shot diverted
behind by Fabian Delph – not long after receiving his first booking for a foul
Moments earlier, Calvert-Lewin, on target five time in his
previous six appearances, couldn’t force a cross from Digne goalwards.
There was an element of farce about events when Everton
swept upfield 20 minutes from the end.
The away fans roared for a free-kick when Masina wiped out
Referee Craig Pawson played a good advantage as substitute
Morgan Schneiderlin fizzed a pass forwards for Walcott.
He was taken out by Adrian Mariappa. On Everton went – until
Pereyra cleaned out Richarlison,
There was nowhere to go for Pawson, then. He awarded the
free-kick which was blasted into the wall by Digne.
Delph received his second yellow with 19 minutes remaining
and Ancelotti sent on Michael Keane for Calvert-Lewin.
Doucoure flashed a volley wide after Everton only partially
cleared a corner – in fact, the Frenchman launched a quickfire one-man assault
on the Blues’ goal.
He was off target with another volleyed strike before Mina
and Sidibe combined to close off the space as Doucoure charged into the box.
If it felt like Everton were on the ropes then that
impression was entirely wrong.
Because in the 90th minutes Richarlison flew forwards and
fed Kean, who ushered in Walcott to send the Evertonians behind Foster’s goal