Everton vs Leicester City. Premier League.
Wednesday 31 January 2018 23:33, UK
Theo Walcott scored twice as Everton survived a second-half fightback from Leicester City to win 2-1 on Seamus Coleman's return to the side at Goodison Park.
Sam Allardyce's men secured their first win in seven games thanks to Walcott's first goals since joining the club from Arsenal in a £20m deal earlier this month.
But Jamie Vardy's 72nd-minute penalty set up a frantic finale in torrential conditions on Merseyside, with Kelechi Iheanacho striking both the post and bar before Matty James had a shot cleared off the line.
The result means Everton remain in ninth place, but they close the gap to Leicester in eighth to three points.
Everton: Pickford (7), Coleman (8), Martina (7), Keane (7), Jagielka (7), Gueye (7), Davies (7), Sigurdsson (6), Rooney (6), Walcott (9), Niasse (6).
Subs: Schneiderlin (6), Williams (6), Calvert-Lewin (6)
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Chilwell (5), Maguire (6), Amartey (5), Dragovic (5), Ndidi (6), James (6), Gray (5), Albrighton (6), Okazaki (5), Vardy (6).
Subs: Fuchs (6), Iheanacho (5), Diabate (5)
Man of the match: Theo Walcott
After making the better start, Leicester were unfortunate not to take the lead when Marc Albrighton's short corner was headed onto the crossbar by Wilfred Ndidi.
Everton came into the game in poor form, forcing Allardyce into making seven changes to his side, but the tension growing among the home supporters was released after 25 minutes.
Daniel Amartey played Ben Chilwell into trouble and with the young left-back failing to clear, Gylfi Sigurdsson dispossessed him and found the unmarked Walcott to slot home beyond the out-stretched Kasper Schmeichel.
Seamus Coleman returned to the Everton starting line-up after 10 months out with a broken leg. Coleman joined Michael Keane, Phil Jagielka, Tom Davies, Idrissa Gueye, Wayne Rooney and Oumar Niasse in returning. Jonjoe Kenny, Mason Holgate, Ashley Williams, Morgan Schneiderlin, Nikola Vlasic, James McCarthy and Cenk Tosun dropped out. Leicester manager Claude Puel made the one change to the side that beat Watford. Riyad Mahrez was replaced by Demarai Gray.
Seamus Coleman, returning to the Everton side for the first time in 10 months, combined well with Walcott down the right to provide a constant outlet, and it was the former Arsenal winger who extended Everton's lead six minutes before the break.
Moments after Oumar Niasse had dragged a shot wide following a dreadful attempted clearance by Amartey, Michael Keane headed Wayne Rooney's cross into the path of Walcott for a simple finish at the far post.
There were very few signs of a Leicester comeback until Wayne Rooney brought down Ndidi inside the box with 18 minutes remaining, allowing Vardy to step up and blast his penalty past Jordan Pickford.
Leicester ought to have completed the turnaround four minutes later as Iheanacho's flick from Albrighton's corner bounced off the crossbar before the Nigeria international hit the post on the rebound.
James met Ben Chilwell's cross from the left to shoot past Pickford but Cuco Martina saved a certain goal with his last-ditched clearance as Everton escaped with all three points.
Sam Allardyce: "It was a very important win for us today, and Coleman coming back is a great boost. He'll be dead on his feet tomorrow. With Arsenal coming up so quickly, he'll want to play but I'm not so sure that will be right for us. We'll have a look and see how he recovers.
"I spoke to him at half-time and told him to play with his head. If you feel yourself fatiguing, give us a wave and we can bring Jonjoe [Kenny] on. But when you see him still running forward at the end, he showed that he was right and I was wrong!
Claude Puel: "We made a good start with a good balance of the team and we had a good control of the game. After the first goal, we lost control and Everton put us under pressure and we didn't give a good response.
"We played well in the second half and we finished with strong quality but without reward in the end. I thought we deserved the draw, but it's a good lesson for the future."
Walcott will face his former club Arsenal this weekend full of confidence after his well-taken double.
The 28-year-old brought energy to the right side of Everton's front line, dovetailing superbly with the excellent Coleman in their first appearance together.
Walcott was denied the match ball in the second half after his shot was cleared off the line by Harry Maguire, but his first-half contribution alone made him the game's stand-out player.
Everton travel to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening in the Premier League, shortly after Leicester have entertained Swansea City at the King Power Stadium.
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