Raphinha was the hero as the Brazilian’s first goal for the Leeds United sent the Yorkshire club on their way towards a first win against Everton in 36 years.
Having not won since their three-nil demolishing of Aston Villa over a month ago, Leeds United came into this game desperate for a win. Their dominant performance against Arsenal had done much to quell the fears of the fanbase but had done little to actually move them up the table.
They were coming up against an Everton team who were also going through a tough time results-wise, having only won one of their last four games and with both first-choice full-backs missing through injury. Their attack was complete though, with Richarlison joining James Rodriguez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the pitch for only the second time since his return from injury, Leeds’ defence would have their hands full if all three were on their game.
Meanwhile, Biela’s side was unchanged from the Arsenal game, which came as a shock for many who had assumed that Rodrigo would be re-introduced to the XI following his strong performance from the bench last time out.
The game against Arsenal had seen Leeds hit the woodwork three ties and create countless chances without managing to get on the scoresheet and the Yorkshire team weren’t shy of chances this time around either. It took a minute for Raphina to be played through after a knock-down from Patrick Bamford and it required some brave goalkeeping from Jordan Pickford to keep his team in the running.
Everton didn’t start slowly though, taking only five minutes for Abdoulaye Doucoure having a great chance inside the area which forced young Illan Meslier into a solid save. Leeds’ pressure gave them control though and they had more of the ball and more of the chances too. Jack Harrison had a guilt-edged chance inside the area after some mazy dribbling from Raphinha had sent the Englishman free inside the area
Pickford had to be alert again as he cut out a Stuart Dallas cross destined for the head of Raphinha. The Everton ‘keepers’ most impressive moment came from a reaction save from the impressive Patrick Bamford, who had found himself free in the six-yard box but couldn’t properly direct his shot.
The game continued at a high tempo, Everton had the ball in the back of the net twice in the first half, but each was ruled out for offside. The ever-threatening Raphinha had a looping header well saved by Pickford, and Jack Harrison’s follow-up was cleared off the line.
Somehow, the two sides went into the break goalless. Leeds had been dominant, but Everton had been dangerous themselves and it seemed that it would only be a matter of time before someone broke the deadlock.
Both teams attacked with the same intensity and created even more top chances. A classy team move from Leeds gave Mateusz Klich an opportunity from the edge of the box but the Polish international couldn’t keep his shot down. Allan, who was consistently impressive for Everton, ran the whole length of the pitch to get a shot on goal that required a timely block from the aforementioned Klich.
Finally, it seemed as though the deadlock was broken as Leeds attacked down the left, Alioski’s cross found Raphinha, who hammered it across the box and Patrick Bamford was there to turn it in. Unfortunately for the Elland Road side, Alioski was deemed to be offside, and so the score remained level.
Just as the game entered the final 10 minutes, it seemed as though Leeds’ hopes for three points would be left unfulfilled, until the ball came to Raphinha on the edge of the box. The Brazilian twisted and turned and stroked the ball into the far corner of the Everton net from 20 yards out.
And that was it. Everton didn’t threaten beyond that point. Leeds had a few more chances, Helder Costa, who replaced Jack Harrison late on, should have scored after being gifted a golden chance after a jinking run from fellow substitute Ian Poveda. Leeds won’t be complaining about the scoreline though. A second consecutive clean sheet and a great result against a great team.
Leeds will now look forward to their visit to Chelsea next week as they attempt to, once again, bring tears to the eyes of Frank Lampard.
Illan Meslier – 8
Luke Ayling – 7
Robin Koch – 7
Liam Cooper – 7
Ezjan Alioski – 7
Kalvin Phillips – 9 (MOTM)
Raphinha – 8
Stuart Dallas – 7
Mateusz Klich – 7
Jack Harrison – 7
Patrick Bamford – 7
Ian Poveda – N/a
Rodrigo – N/a
Helder Costa – N/a