Richarlison denies Leicester to earn late relief for Everton in survival bid

The verdict on whether Richarlison made a crucial or costly contribution against Leicester may not be returned until Everton’s final league position is decided but, having stared at a damaging defeat from the fifth minute to the 92nd, Frank Lampard understandably took the optimistic view.

Richarlison could have had a hat‑trick in a game where Leicester’s superiority in possession failed to translate into clearcut opportunity beyond Harvey Barnes’s early goal. The Brazil international had to settle for a scuffed stoppage-time equaliser instead, bringing relief to a tense Goodison Park with the 50th goal of his Everton career.

Chances were going begging, hope was fading and Burnley were looking at the possibility of dragging Everton into the relegation zone when the substitutes Salomon Rondón and Dele Alli combined to set up Richarlison’s strike. The first draw of his Everton reign drew no complaints from Lampard.

“A late goal that gets you a draw like that feels like a real positive,” the Everton manager said.

“It was a difficult game but we deserved it; not on possession but on chances. We were too open and allowed Leicester to play in the first half. The second half was different. We fought for it.

“The spirit is there and the players showed it. This is not the time for pretty patterns or philosophy. We have to show fight and character to stay in this league and we showed that tonight.”

Leicester started with a freedom and confidence that Everton’s predicament does not allow, although were ultimately left to lament dropping more points from a winning position. The early lead helped, of course, along with the seven changes that Brendan Rodgers made from the stoppage-time defeat at Newcastle on Sunday. The Leicester manager replaced his entire back four and recalled James Maddison, Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho. Lampard was forced into his attacking switch.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was ruled out of the game, plus the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Sunday, having felt “a small sensation in his quad in training”, according to the Everton manager.

The squad has been plagued by recurring injuries this season and the trials of Calvert‑Lewin, who was still searching for sharpness following a quadriceps problem that had sidelined him for four months, have been a major factor in Everton’s decline.

The visitors immediately served notice of their ability to pierce Everton’s defence. Merely 25 seconds had elapsed when Ricardo Pereira’s threaded pass sent the impressive Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall clean through on goal.

Séamus Coleman recovered with a vital challenge to spare his team from the worst possible start, injuring his thigh in the process, but the worst was only delayed.

Harvey Barnes opens the scoring for Leicester in their draw at Everton
Harvey Barnes opens the scoring for Leicester in their draw at Everton. Photograph: Philip Bryan/ProSports/Shutterstock

Leicester cut through again with ease from their next attack. Kasper Schmeichel picked out Pereira in space on the right with a precise clearance. The right‑back exchanged passes with Youri Tielemans before releasing Maddison, who considered his options on the right and centred for Iheanacho.

The striker’s shot deflected off the lunging Yerry Mina, who was making his first start since 8 February, and fell to Barnes, who steered his first goal in 10 games through the legs of Coleman and in off the far post.

Everton were passive in the face of Leicester’s comfortable passing game in the first half and too deep to apply serious pressure on the visiting defence.

From their first meaningful attack, however, Lampard’s team should have equalised. Anthony Gordon escaped down the left and crossed hard and low across the Leicester six-yard box.

Richarlison, unmarked at the back post, prodded badly wide with only Schmeichel to beat. The Brazilian missed another glorious chance in the 83rd minute when heading Gordon’s corner wide from six yards out. But he made amends when his team needed it most.

The introduction of Rondón and Alli improved Everton as an attacking threat and ensured Richarlison was no longer isolated. Coleman had just missed another clear opening for the hosts when Alli broke down the right and crossed low towards Rondón. The ball rolled under the forward’s feet to Richarlison, whose scuffed shot struck Pereira and sailed into the far corner.

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Goodison erupted. Rodgers, visibly irritated by his team’s failure to finish off one of several excellent counterattacks in the second half, was deflated.

“Performance-wise we were excellent,” the Leicester manager said. “But we needed a wee bit more composure in the final third to close the game out. We were in some great positions and it was just demanding more quality.

“This is our fourth game since Everton had that great result against Manchester United. This is a young team and I am delighted with how they played.”