Survival instincts spur Swansea to victory.
Swansea City 1 – 0 Everton
Brief summary… The home sides need for three piints proved a greater incentive than three points for Everton to put pressure on Arsenal. Everton had more possession, but left their best of the game till far, far too late in the game.
With a sixth-place finish still possible, victory over the relegation haunted Swans was an absolute must. Going into the game, Everton had an excellent unbeaten league record against Swansea on their home turf in eleven previous visits.
Ronald Koeman, with Morgan Schneiderlin still sidelined, restored Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas to the starting line-up at the expense of Ross Barkley and Enner Valencia as the Blues lined up: Stekelenburg, Baines, Williams, Jagielka (c), Holgate, Barry, Gueye, Davies, Calvert-Lewin, Mirallas, and Lukaku.
Swansea manager Paul Clement, also with injury issues to contend with in their fight to survive the drop, but boosted by the news that both Palace and Hull had lost, selected: Fabianski, Fernandez, Olsson, Mawson, Naughton, Ki, Sigurdsson, Carroll, Britton, Ayew and Llorente.
Entrusted with the refereeing duties and sporting a fucia coloured kit was Martin Atkinson.
A very early move saw Baines and Barry combine with the latter swinging in a cross that Lukaku met but, without sufficient power or direction to overly trouble Fabianski in the home goal.
Everton on the back of a decent opening successfully dealt with the first Swansea foray forward that saw them earn a corner off the head of Williams, with Jagielka and the former Swansea captain making solid clearing headers.
The Blues earned their first corner in the 17th minute as a Mirallas shot from distance was deflected behind, but nothing worthwhile ensued.
Mirallas energetically worked the ball out to the right as he and Lukaku heading into danger zone, only for the cross from Holgate to be far too long and high as it sailed out for a throw-in on the other side.
Lukaku with some nice hold up play and lay off to Barry saw a long ball played forward for Mirallas, but Mawson was quick on the recovery and shepherded the ball back to Fabianski.
Sigurdsson wasted his first free kick opportunity on 26 minutes as he lofted the ball easily into the arms of Stekelenburg from thirty yards.
Swansea had appeals for a penalty turned away as Sigurdsson went down under pressure from Barry, but they took the lead within seconds as Llorente outjumped Jagielka at the back post to meet an Ayew cross for a simple close-range shoulder into the net… maybe Stekelenburg could have done better?
Swansea were boosted and Mason Holgate made a superb block to deny Mawson as the home side looked to press home their advantage.
A cross from Baines was controlled by Lukaku and the ball fell nicely for Gueye, but he failed to get a shot and the chance went begging.
The Blues recovered their composure after falling behind, but despite having more of the possession, chances were very few and far between with Fabianski a spectator for the most part.
Half time: 1-0
Ross Barkley replaced DCL at the interval as Ronald Koeman sought to bring some invention to their play and in so doing look to find more and better service for Lukaku.
Things still weren’t clicking for the Blues as Swansea cleared a Barkley free kick and then a one-two with Lukaku by Barkley went awry.
Everton were fortunate not to fall two behind as indecision at the back allowed Ayew a volley and luckily it hit the post with Stekelenburg rooted to his line.
Britton was lucky not to see yellow for a strong challenge on Gueye ahead of a half chance for the Blues as Lukaku fired the ball across the face of the home goal with nobody there to capitalise.
A raid by Davies and Mirallas saw the Belgian pushed wide as he looked for a shot, he fed Baines but his cross from the left was pushed behind by Gueye.
The hour mark passed with the Blues still trailing and manager prepared Valencia to join the action.
Valencia duly replaced Barry on 64 minutes as Ronald Koeman looked to add more firepower and pace to the attack as the Blues finally began to boss the proceedings.
Valencia laid a short pass into the path of Lukaku and his first meaningful shot forced Fabianski into his first meaningful save.
The shoulder of Barkley deflected a Fernandez header over from a Sigurdsson corner and from the follow-up, Llorente escaped the attention of Holgate for a free header that Stekelenburg gathered gratefully.
Barkley to Davies in the box saw Swansea desperately clear the danger with Mirallas looking to mop up a rebound before Ayew got away with an elbow into the face of Barkley.
Cork replaced Britton for the home side on 72 minutes and former Everton target Fer replaced Ki two minutes later.
Fer got on the end of a Carroll cross and Everton were grateful for the legs of Stekelenburg to deny a second marker.
Jon-Joe Kenny replaced Holgate in 77 minutes.
A break from the Blues area saw Barkley feed Lukaku on the right and he bullied his way past Fernandez before hitting the side netting with a powerful right foot shot.
A good cross from Kenny was just too high for Barkley and Mawson then swept a low cross from Kenny to safety as Everton pushed for a late equaliser.
Mawson was being kept busy intercepting a number of crosses from Kenny whose introduction had definitely made an impact.
A free kick from Barkley was flicked on by Mirallas but just too far in front of the arriving Williams.
Borja replaced Llorente with three minutes of normal time to play as the home side looked to lock up the points.
Kenny got forward again to win a disputed corner and Jagielka stayed forward to force another as time ticked away. Mawson cleared from about two yards out as Lukaku span away from a defender to cross into the danger area.
Valencia put a header from a Baines corner over the bar as the 90 minutes elapsed and three extra minutes were signalled.
Everton could find nothing in the added-on time and lost their unbeaten away league record and with it, any chance of finishing higher than seventh.
Full time: 1-0
Final summary… Everton continue to bamboozle, baffle and ultimately disappoint their supporters with another late season showing that lacked genuine intent and passion for victory.
Fabianski in the home goal made just one meaningful save in 93 minutes while Stekelenburg made a crucial save with his legs, Ayew hit a post and somehow, Llorente beat the Blues with a first half shoulder to take the points.
Now for sure, Swansea’s incentive to win the game was massive compared to that of the Blues, but that surely cannot be offered as any kind of excuse or reason for another away performance that lacked genuine pace and intention.
Mirallas worked hard throughout but, he’s not a game-changer and that’s what we lacked today… someone to take genuine charge in the midfield and drive the team forward. Too often the build-up from the back was slow and overloaded with sideways passing.
Next Friday is the last home game of a sold-out season at Goodison and the team that Ronald Koeman selects will need to come out against Watford with nothing but a stunning victory in their minds eye.