REPORT | QPR 2-2 Everton (8-7 on pens)
Everton crashed out of the Carabao Cup on penalties against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
In a match that finished 2-2 after ninety minutes, Lucas Digne finished off a well-worked move on 30 minutes in between two first half Charlie Austin headers.
Andros Townsend equalised minutes after the break but the Toffees were unable to find a winner before Tom Davies missed the deciding spot kick in a shootout that finished 8-7 to the hosts.
It was an inexperienced starting 11 picked by Rafael Benitez, highlighting a lack of quality squad depth within the first team.
Anthony Gordon was handed his first start of the season while Mason Holgate, Tom Davies and Andre Gomes were also restored to the side.
It was Gordon who had the Blues’ first chance early on as he took Alex Iwobi’s cutback in his stride but hit his shot down the centre of the goal and straight into goalkeeper Seny Dieng’s hands.
Former Southampton striker Austin nodded the Rs in front after 18 minutes after some disorganised defending from the Blues.
Iwobi received a golden opportunity, running through on goal but was denied by a great point-blank save from Dieng.
Moments later, Digne equalised on half an hour as he met Townsend’s chipped ball over the top and firing home at the near post.
Four minutes later, 32-year-old Austin bagged his second with another header to make it 2-1 to Rangers, which it remained until half-time.
Two minutes into the second half, a low corner from Gomes found its way through a forest of players to Townsend and he levelled the score with a powerful strike from close range.
Both sides had opportunities to find a winner but after 90 minutes, the score remained 2-2 meaning penalties.
In a frantic shootout, all previous seven spot kicks had been converted before Ben Godfrey stepped up and saw his shot straight down the middle saved by Dieng, before the Senegalese was penalised for stepping off his line and Godfrey scored the retake, meaning the drama continued.
In the end, with the scores at 7-7, it was Davies who faltered, as his spot kick was tipped on to the post and QPR were handed the initiative to win the tie.
Jimmy Dunne made no mistake, smashing his penalty past a helpless Asmir Begovic, and sending his side through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
It was a disappointing and embarrassing exit for Everton, who have now lost two on the bounce and were for the most part the weaker side against a Championship outfit.
The lack of quality throughout the squad was really put into perspective on this Tuesday night, and Evertonians will be praying some of their key players will be able to return from injury for Saturday’s home clash against Norwich City.