Match report and free highlights as Everton beat Leicester 2-1 at the King Power Stadium to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone; Vitaliy Mykolenko and Mason Holgate goals in first half, as well as Jordan Pickford's inspired display, see Toffees move up to 16th
Monday 9 May 2022 06:29, UK
Everton climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone after another Jordan Pickford masterclass inspired them to a battling 2-1 win at Leicester.
After Burnley's 3-1 loss to Aston Villa and Leeds' 2-1 defeat at Arsenal, Frank Lampard's side - who started Sunday in 18th position - move one point above their rivals into 16th and have a game in hand on both.
In a frantic start at the King Power Stadium, Ukraine international Vitaliy Mykolenko's stunning volley from the edge of the box after an Alex Iwobi cross gave Everton an early lead (6), before Leicester forward Patson Daka levelled the game just five minutes later following a defensive mix-up between Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman.
The visitors, who then lost Mina to injury in the first half, scored what would prove to be the winner on the half-hour mark when Mason Holgate nodded in after Kasper Schmeichel could only parry Richarlison's header from a Demarai Gray corner.
After the break, it was all about Jordan Pickford. After a string of fine saves in last weekend's 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park, England's No 1 produced another inspired performance. First, he expertly tipped Nampalys Mendy's curling effort from the edge of the box around the post, before twice denying substitute Harvey Barnes from close range and distance.
Barnes then headed a brilliant chance wide in the 82nd minute as Leicester went in search of a point, but Everton held on for a crucial result in their quest for survival and record their first away win in the Premier League since August.
Leicester: Schmeichel (5), Amartey (6), Fofana (6), Evans (6), Castagne (6), Mendy (6), Tielemans (5), Perez (5), Dewsbury-Hall (6), Iheanacho (6), Daka (6).
Subs: Barnes (7), Vardy (6), Lookman (n/a).
Everton: Pickford (9), Iwobi (7), Coleman (6), Mina (6), Holgate (7), Mykolenko (7), Gordon (7), Doucoure (7), Delph (7), Gray (7), Richarlison (6).
Subs: Keane (8), Kenny (6), Rondon (6).
Man of the match: Jordan Pickford.
Everton, unchanged from their win over Chelsea, would have surely been buoyed to see Jamie Vardy only among the substitutes but they needed Mina to bail them out after three minutes.
The Toffees lost the ball in midfield and Kelechi Iheanacho darted towards goal, he slipped in Daka to beat Pickford but not the sliding Mina who diverted the goalbound shot behind.
But, despite Leicester's start, it was Everton who grabbed the lead after just six minutes. The Foxes were slow to react from a throw-in which allowed Iwobi to cross for Mykolenko to crash in a superb opener.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers made six changes to his side after Thursday's Europa Conference League defeat at Roma.
Timothy Castagne, Daniel Amartey, Nampalys Mendy, Ayoze Perez, Kelechi Iheanacho and Patson Daka came into the starting line-up.
They replaced Ricardo Pereira, James Justin, James Maddison, Ademola Lookman, Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy.
Everton boss Frank Lampard named an unchanged side following last weekend's 1-0 home win over Chelsea.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who was absent against Liverpool due to a quadriceps issue, was an unused substitute in that game and started on the bench again.
Mina's afternoon then quickly got worse as he soon played his own calamitous part in Leicester's 11th-minute leveller. He and Coleman - neither under pressure - went for the same header 25 yards out only to collide and crumple into a heap. Daka seized on the gift and ran through to easily beat Pickford for his first goal since February.
It was all Everton's own making but came just seconds after Schmeichel had turned a close-range Abdoulaye Doucoure effort onto the post to stop the visitors doubling their lead.
Mina was forced off injured to complete his misery but Everton regained their composure to retake the lead after half an hour through Holgate's header. It was the 56th league goal Leicester have conceded this season with 18 now coming from set-pieces.
Improvement was needed in the second half but Leicester could not find an equaliser, with Pickford's three stunning saves and Barnes' missed header late on the home side's best opportunities.
Everton manager Frank Lampard said: "The lads are fighting. We're fighting as a club together. It was a tough game against a tough opponent, but I thought we deserved it.
"We defended well, showed great resilience in the team, created a lot of good chances and could have even scored more. We rode our luck a little bit at times.
"We're still in a relegation fight. It's another big one, but there is still more to go. It's important to enjoy these moments but realise there's still a lot of work to be done.
"We haven't got back-to-back wins for a while so the players should take huge confidence.
"A week ago on Saturday we were five points from safety and now we're a point safe but there is more to do. We can buy into it but we have to make sure we protect against too much confidence."
On the performance of Jordan Pickford, Lampard said: "He's in great form and getting the recognition he rightly deserves. He made a few big saves again for us.
"Everybody's important but you need those moments from top-level players to produce. He produces."
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said: "The nature of the two goals was very disappointing. From a throw-in and a corner again.
"It's becoming very irritable. It's a fundamental basic of the game. You sense the nervousness in the team. We've tried everything. I've looked at it in terms of the profile of player we have. We put in an extra centre-half to cope with those moments and changed the system for that.
"But we lack that concentration and determination to defend it and if you keep doing that, you undo a lot of your good work and that's how it's been for us too many times this season.
"We need some honest feedback to allow us to go forward. What we have done in three years is to go from a team possibly happy to stay in the Premier League to one disappointed not to win a trophy.
"We need to keep improving and developing and if we finished in 14th position, even with the injuries, it would be very disappointing.
"I still hoped to finish in the top 10, we have played 19 cup games - half a season more than a lot of teams - and throw in the injuries it's been a real challenge."
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds:
As it stands, Jordan Pickford's saves are keeping Everton in the Premier League. There are ways of dressing things up, but that's the bottom line over the past two weekends. Two games, six points earned with plenty of grit and determination from the 10 outfield Everton players.
But when the back line has been breached, one man has stood tall, defied his critics and has underlined his status as the best English goalkeeper in the country.
Coinciding with Everton's improvement has been a noticeable shift towards a less possession-based style that has started at Pickford's feet, with his more direct distribution paying dividends. Pickford's 17 passes into the final third was more than any other team-mate.
Goalkeepers are there to make saves, but sometimes they have no right to do so. Like last weekend, when Cesar Azpilicueta was left speechless at Pickford's reactions.
And again, at the King Power Stadium, on three separate occasions to ensure Everton got over the line for a first away league win since August. Nampalys Mendy is still awaiting his first Leicester goal and he can't have hit a cleaner strike than his bending effort from range that Pickford clawed around the post.
Harvey Barnes was next to be thwarted by the Everton goalkeeper's sharp instincts twice in the space of three minutes. Roy Keane described Pickford's time-wasting antics recently as "disgraceful" but said he understood why the tactics were employed - he's a man forever under the microscope often unfairly - but there can be nothing but praise here.
Seven saves in total to drag his club out of the relegation zone - with a game in hand on Burnley and Leeds. Back-to-back wins for Everton for the first time since September, and as the 3,339 travelling supporters continued to sing Spirit of the Blues long after the final whistle from their seats - no man embodied such spirit as Jordan Pickford.
Sky Sports' Dan Sansom:
It's a familiar story for Leicester. They cannot defend corners.
Mason Holgate's headed winner for Everton at the King Power on Sunday was the 56th league goal Leicester have conceded this season. 15 have come from corners, the most by a side in a single campaign since Brighton in 2017/18 (16).
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said it had a "problem all season" after Roma striker Tammy Abraham's goal dumped his side out of the Europa Conference League on Thursday night - and it cost them again three days later.
Leicester's season is now at risk of fizzling out. Their last win in all competitions came at PSV Eindhoven eight games ago, while their 10-match unbeaten home run was ended by an Everton side battling to avoid relegation.
A top-10 finish is the best the Foxes can hope for, but if they are to return to European football and hit the heights of previous years, Rodgers will need to work out how to solve a problem that has been his team's Achilles' heel time and time again.
Leicester are back in action on Wednesday when they host relegated Norwich (kick-off 7.45pm). The Foxes then travel to Watford on May 15 (kick-off 2pm).
Everton head to Watford on Wednesday as they continue their fight for Premier League survival (kick-off 7.45pm). Frank Lampard's side then welcome Brentford to Goodison Park next Sunday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 4.30pm).
May 11 - Norwich (h)
May 15 - Watford (a)
May 19 - Chelsea (a)
May 22 - Southampton (h)
May 11 - Watford (a)
May 15 - Brentford (h), live on Sky Sports
May 19 - Crystal Palace (h)
May 22 - Arsenal (a)