Lukaku double helps Everton to league double over Foxes.
Everton 4 – 2 Leicester City
Brief summary… Everton completed a double over the defending champions with something of a first half stutter, but overall, a thoroughly deserved victory on a solid team effort.
The champions in good form since sacking Claudio Ranieri were the visitors to Goodison on a sunny but cool Sunday afternoon with the Blues keen to get back to winning ways to complete a home and away double, and avenge the FA Cup loss.
With Ashley Williams suspended and Morgan Schneiderlin still doubtful, Ronald Koeman waited as long as he could before naming the following starting eleven: Robles, Baines, Jagielka, Holgate, Pennington, Schneiderlin, Geuye, Barkley, Davies, Mirallas and Lukaku.
In charge of proceedings as referee was Robert Madley.
A blistering start to the game saw three goals in nine minutes with the Blues opening the scoring with just 30 seconds elapsed. A superb break by Kevin Mirallas saw him hauled down, but the ball broke kindly for Tom Davies to net coolly.
But Leicester hit back inside two minutes as Gray was allowed in run and run before sliding the ball into the path of Slimani and he slid the ball past Robles.
The defending champions then took the lead inside ten minutes as Pennington was somewhat harshly adjudged to have blocked Vardy and direct from the free kick wide on the left, Albrighton beat Robles high to the back post, a goal the Spanish keeper will be very unhappy at conceding.
Everton didn’t panic and set about regaining their composure and command of the midfield but Robles was called upon to foil Gray with his legs before Everton deservedly drew level in the 23rd minute. Gana Gueye worked the ball out to the right for Barkley and his instant cross into the danger area was superbly headed down and beyond Schmeichel by Romelu Lukaku.
Mirallas, who was having an excellent first half, reacted to a challenge from behind by Huth and after a bit of a melted, the referee saw fit to show both the yellow card.
Lukaku should have done better in the 36th minute as Gueye found him on the right with Holgate overlapping. Lukaku cut inside and lost Chilwell, but blazed his curling shot high and wide.
More good approach work from Everton saw an opening for Gueye, but his shot was deflected wide.
A solid, ball-winning challenge by Tom Davies on Vardy saw the ball break nicely for Barkley who rounded Schmeichel only for a last gasp defection to send his shot wide for a corner. But Everton would not be denied and from the set piece, skipper Phil Jagielka rose like a stag in the mating season to plant a header well beyond the rooted Schmeichel for 3-2 on 40 minutes.
Half time: 3-2.
The second half was hardly likely to start as explosively as the first and so it transpired. Everton though, having led at the interval, were quickly back into their stride forcing Leicester back with some excellent pressing and stronger in the midfield.
Kevin Mirallas, who had had a terrific opening 45 minutes was a constant thorn in the side of the visitors and it was a break by the Belgian that led to the fourth goal. He forced and took a left wing corner, firing the set piece to the back post for his compatriot Lukaku to lash home his second of the game on 57 minutes.
Leicester, with one eye of their Champions League trip to Madrid sent Musa and Mahrez on for Gray and Vardy respectively on the hour mark as Everton continued to be the better side.
Referee Madley annoyed the home crowd after King flattened Lukaku and then he blew for an innocuous foul by Davies on Mahrez, before rightly booking King.
Ronald Koeman withdrew Morgan Schneiderlin for Gareth Barry on 72 minutes, with Barry slotting straight into the back four.
Ulloa came on for Albrighton and nearly scored with his first header from a Mahrez cross.
With the game petering out, Joel Robles went some way to redeeming himself for his first half error on the Albrighton goal with a superb reaction save to deny Ulloa, Baines completing the clearance to set up a break by Mirallas that eventually saw a shot from Lukaku cleared.
Full time 4-2.
Final summary… After the fireworks of the opening ten minutes, this was a game that Everton largely controlled, restricting Leicester to pacy counter attacks. Once the Everton rearguard had settled into the game, they were able to cope well with the visitors for whom Vardy was largely anonymous, Slimani much more of a handful.
Overall though, Ronald Koeman will be satisfied with the reaction and fight back by his team for whom the whole of the midfield competed well. As for a man of the match, Kevin Mirallas would be a good and popular shout.