Brighton 1-1 Everton



Dunk’s last-gasp goal denies Everton and salvages point for 10-man Brighton

A smash-and-grab raid courtesy of a beautiful strike from Jarrad Branthwaite, after – naturally – a set piece: this was Dyche-ball in action. Its architect, Sean Dyche, seemed set to celebrate another win over Roberto De Zerbi, the artful dodger defeating the aesthete. Everton’s muscle had caused Brighton to lose their discipline, Billy Gilmour sent off for a studs-up tackle on Andrรฉ Onana. Yet Lewis Dunk, after skill and composure from the ever-dependable Pascal Gross, nodded in an equaliser to leave Everton continuing to look over their shoulders at a relegation battle they may or may not be involved in.

Everton expect an update by the end of the month on their appeal against a 10-point penalty. Their players must perform in a purgatorial state of being relegation candidates. Recent form had suggested they were feeling the pressure of that situation, and it eventually told at Brighton, too.

According to one unnamed player before kick-off, Everton’s charter flight to the south coast had been a bumpy, turbulent ride. They began on the pitch in similar fashion but eventually rode out a minor storm. Though Everton’s previous visit had ended in a 5-1 victory, De Zerbi’s tactics were typically bold. Simon Adingra and Facundo Buonanotte flanked Danny Welb

eck and Evan Ferguson. For all that attacking intent, the absences of Joรฃo Pedro and Kaoru Mitoma were keenly felt.

The starting strikers, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Evan Ferguson, had a combined 34 matches without a goal. Calvert-Lewin, an England international, has had to watch Abdoulaye Doucourรฉ take on the mantle of talisman. Ferguson, withdrawn in the moments after Everton’s goal, is going through the growing pains even the best young strikers must see out: Alan Shearer, an admirer who is often compared to the teenager, was not prolific at Southampton, for example. Ferguson’s talent looked present and correct in a drop of the shoulder and raking pass that set up Adingra to smash just wide but he was often far too peripheral.

As Welbeck first hit a shot wide, and then Jordan Pickford careered out to clear the danger from the same player, the guttural boom of Dyche bellowing instructions underpinned the soundscape as it would for the entire 90 minutes, plus nine (crucial) minutes of added time. Everton’s simple plan was to sit back and seize on counterattacks and set pieces. A similar strategy proved effective for David Moyes and West Ham in August but Brighton had lost none of their 10 home league games since, with Dunk eventually extending that record to 11 here.

Jarrad Branthwaite gave Everton the lead in the second half courtesy of a fine shot. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Calvert-Lewin had probably the best chance of the first half, only for a sharper-minded Dunk to get there first. By then, approaching the break, Everton had more of a foothold in the game. Home fans agonised over their team’s inability to convert dominance – 62% possession in the first half – and chances into goals.

As Everton edged forward beyond the break, frustrations grew, with De Zerbi booked for complaining about James Tarkowski’s tackle on Welbeck. A floor show was meanwhile being performed on the sidelines by Dyche and his assistants, keeping a constant pantomime dialogue with the fourth official, Dean Whitestone.

On the hour, Tariq Lamptey produced the best play of the match so far. Jack Harrison escaped down the left and Doucourรฉ’s volley was headed from the line by the Brighton full-back, the goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen already beaten. Calvert-Lewin soon departed, his drought now extended to 20 matches, as the game became more stretched. Ferguson had his only shot on goal soon after, having been forced to drop deep. A series of Dyche-ball blocks were thrown in as Brighton attempted to step up the tempo, but the chances were never quite clean enough. Everton’s continuing danger at set pieces was confirmed by James Garner flashing a free-kick wide.

It was warning that went unheeded. After Brighton brought on Julio Enciso ahead of a free-kick, their organisation failed them. Pickford launched a kick into the area, Ben Godfrey’s run took Gross and Ferguson with him before Branthwaite curled in a fierce shot. After Gilmour, perhaps unluckily, was dismissed, Everton failed to hold off the pressure of 10 men. Gross, turning Beto inside out, showed the poise and incision his teammates had lacked all afternoon, before Dunk did the rest.


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