An early goal from Richarlison and a magnificent second half howitzer from Gylfi Sigurdsson saw Everton record their 600th away victory in league football, in their best performance of the season to date.
Eighth vs eleventh on Saturday afternoon as the Foxes of Leicester City hosted the Toffees of Everton at the King Power Stadium, with Everton needing to right the wrongs of Tuesday night and get back to winning ways.
Leicester boss Claude Puel had a full strength squad to call upon including James Maddison, once of Norwich City and now the latest call-up for potential England international duty following a good start to his career in the East Midlands.
Puel opted to name a pacy and attacking starting eleven: Schmeichel, Amartey, Morgan (c), Maguire, Chilwell, Mendy, Ndidi, Pereira, Iheanacho, Maddison and Vardy.
Hoping to put the Carabao Cup exit to Southampton well and truly behind them, Marco Silva made a salient point when talking about the youthful natire of his Everton squad when he said, “In the last two games we have played with the youngest team in the Premier League. We have fantastic moments and then sometimes we go down. We have to be more consistent and mature in some games. We will achieve that for sure with time but I want to achieve it as soon as possible.”
With Gylfi Sigurdsson returning the midfield and Tom Davies retaining the captains’ armband, Silva also chose to hand Brazilian Bernard his first Premier League start for the Toffees in a starting line-up of: Pickford, Digne, Zouma, Keane, Kenny, Gueye, Davies (c), Sigurdsson, Walcott, Bernard and Richarlison.
Sporting cards, free kick spray, watches and the all-important whistle was referee Andre Marriner.
A slow, steady opening saw Everton fail to make the most of a defensive error by Ndidi as Bernard tried to play Sigurdsson in for a shot, but the home defence recovered to snuff out the half chance. Leicester responded with Maddison releasing Iheanacho, but his ball for Vardy was an easy gather for Jordan Pickford.
Great work on the left by Bernard after collecting a sweet pass from Gana Gueye saw him beat Pereira and then Amartey with ease to cross to the back post for Richarlison to net with less than seven minutes gone on the clock.
Leicester were visibly rattled and another good move saw a right wing cross from Richarlison cause panic with the ball turned away for a corner to deny Bernard a chance to increase the lead.
Leicester were targetting the right side of the Everton defence with both Chilwell and Vardy looking to exploit ace against Kenny in their efforts to get back on level terms. On the quarter hour park, this ploy was perfectly demonstrated as Chilwell too easily got past Kenny only for Vardy to place a weak header well wide of the target.
Everton responded with a flowing move involving Walcott, Sigurdsson and Bernard with Schmeichel happy to tip a curling shot from Walcott over the bar for another Everton corner.
Sigurdsson with a sweet reverse pass played in Bernard only for his cut-back cross to find a Leicester defender to clear, but the visitors were looking inventive and confident going forward.
Richarlison set Walcott free down the right flank and he found Sigurdsson for a low [Poor language removed] that didn’t cause Schmeichel too many problems. Leicester appeared happy to fire long balls over the top for Vardy to use his pace, but the Keane and Zouma combination were coping well in the opening half hour.
Pereira was lucky not to pick up a yellow card for a blatant shirt pull on Bernard in the 28th minute, referee Marriner had a good view but chose not to legislate.
Walcott appealed half-heartedly for a penalty after racing away on a stray ball from Chilwell and appearing to be blocked by Maguire when a ball to his left would have put Richarlison in unmarked, ahead of Amartey picking up the first booking for a foul on Bernard.
Leicester really should have drawn level in the 34th minute when another long ball down the middle saw Vardy get the better of Keane, but he failed to put his weak shot on target and Pickford wasn’t tested.
Where Leicester were direct, Everton were looking to exploit width to better effect and disappointingly, a fourth corner came to nothing.
An awful pass by Maguire was picked off and when Bernard crossed for Sigurdsson the shoot, the former Hull defender was
Against the run of play, Pereira drew the hosts level on 40 minutes, playing a one-two with Iheanacho to show his pace and when Kenny dived in for a tackle he didn’t make, Pereira fired home with Pickford unable to stop the low shot.
Morgan was booked for a cynical foul on Richarlison as the visitors looked to restore their lead and from the free kick, a Zouma was deflected over for another corner.
Right on 45 minutes, Tom Davies was the first Everton booking bringing down Vardy as the Foxes looked to counter attack again at pace.
A decent half from Everton who looked bright and inventive throughout, winning six corners to just one conceded but needing to prevent Leicester using their pace to counter attack, especially down the right where Jonjoe Kenny had not enjoyed the best of times.
Half Time: 1-1
No changes by either manager during the interval and Leicester continued with their long ball over the top approach right from the start with Vardy called offside trying to get away from Keane.
Gana Gueye with a terrific ball down the right channel put Walcott away from a cross cleared for another Everton corner that Schmeichel palmed away to safety.
Morgan with a stiff challenge on Richarlison right on the touchline got a talking to when he might have picked up a second yellow.
Maguire with a through ball for Vardy to again test Keane saw a cross that nobody followed up on, but the threat of and clear intention to use pace was clearly there for all to see. A poor clearance from Davies was picked off by Chilwell and he danced away from challenges by Davies and Gueye to fire a shot high and wide in a bright start to the second half by the home side.
Leicester had clearly been told to up their intensity and Everton needed to stay calm and focussed and not get lured into diving into tackles.
Passing the hour mark and in driving rain, the game was poised on a knife-edge with Everton still looking to construct attacks while Leicester were relying on their pace and trademark counter attacking style.
Walcott with a sweet turn in the area and under pressure from Chilwell tested Schmeichel ahead of Morgan rightly getting his second yellow for another crude challenge on Richarlison on 63 minutes.
Leicester reacted by bringing Albrighton on for Iheanacho while Everton resisted the idea of bringing Schneiderlin on… could Everton, roared on by their terrific travelling support, make the man advantage count?
Kenny racing forward to get on the end of a terrific through ball from Davies forced yet another corner that resulted in Schmeichel making two saves to deny shots from Digne and Davies with Maguire scrambling the loose ball away to safety.
With 70 minutes gone, Marco Silva sent Cenk Tosun on at the expense of Tom Davies as the Blues set their designs on getting a late winner. Richarlsion switched to his preferred wide left position and Sigurdsson dropping back alongside Gana Gueye in the midfield.
Bernard on the right found Sigurdsson for a long range effort that Schmeichel touched away for Everton’s ninth corner.
Inside the final 15 minutes, Everton deservedly retook the lead as Zouma found Sigurdsson and his sweet turn took him away from Maddison to crash a stunning shot high into the top corner from 25-yards with Schmeichel helpless to prevent it ballooning the net.
The King Power Stadium was silenced except for tremendous support from the travelling Evertonians ahead of Maddison making way for Ghezzal for the final ten minutes.
Everton didn’t sit back to defend the lead and a good chase from Kenny pressured Chilwell into conceding yet another corner in front of the Blues fans, with Zouma planting a header from Sigurdsson’s set piece just over the bar.
Okazaki replaced Pereira ahead of Maguire getting away with a bear-hug on Tosun as we entered the final few minutes. Vardy wasted a crossing opportunity after a Walcott pass just failed to reach Tosun.
Morgan Schneiderlin came on for the added-on time replacing the highly impressive and effective Bernard.
Zouma managed to prevent Vardy getting clear at the expense of a corner that saw Amartey head wide when he really could have hit the target. DCL replaced Theo Walcott for the final seconds.
Chilwell was booked for a challenge on Gylfi Sigurdsson as time wound down.