Fireworks before kick-off, a contentious red card & a debut brace from the man that “ruined the transfer market” who eventually went off injured- Everton Football Club are well and truly back. After the prolonged suffering of the 2017/18 season, Marco Silva’s competitive bow as Everton manager showed (appropriately) that every cloud has a silver lining.
Despite the excitement surrounding the acquisition of Deadline Day quartet Bernard, Andre Gomes, Yerry Mina & Kurt Zouma, Richarlison would be the only summer buy deemed fit enough to be in the starting 11 that were posed with derailing the hype surrounding last season’s Championship winners, Wolves.
For Wolves early possession in the first 15 minutes, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side did not boast the same attacking prowess that was showcased many a time last season & looked a little hesitant at times. This allowed the Blues to impose themselves onto their opposition & the breakthrough came 17 minutes in courtesy of a brilliant out swinging free-kick by Leighton Baines on the left, who angled the ball into a dangerous area just in front of the 6-yard box for £40m Brazilian Richarlson to pounce on the loose ball. A debut goal after a summer of scrutiny from the media.
The wind was most definitely in Everton’s sails as they looked set on the front foot, Richarlison again in the thick of it as he bared down on goal. His best option was to square the ball across to the advancing Theo Walcott, but the final ball left a lot to be desired as he couldn’t manage to get enough on it. A chance squandered.
Other than a long range effort from Diogo Jota which was saved comfortably by Jordan Pickford, Wolves were yet to threaten. Yet, in a moment of safe possession for Everton between central defenders Michael Keane & Phil Jagielka, the latter produced a poor first touch, allowing a window of time for Jota to contest for the ball.
The Everton captain, synonymous for his sliding tackles, threw out an overstretched right leg which although caught the ball, took a piece of Jota’s ankle too. Theatrics ensued from the Portuguese forward which may have played a part of referee Craig Pawson producing a straight red card 5 minutes from half-time. The reasoning for the red has since been clarified as laws: “denying a goalscoring opportunity” & “serious foul play”, much to the bemusement of those who see contact as a part of the game.
The consequential free-kick was also a point of contention as Wolves’ Reuben Neves moved the ball 6 yards forward from where the foul had taken place. Characteristically of the 21-year old, he despatched a peach of an equaliser to Pickford’s side of the wall, who had taken a step to his right prior to the strike, hindering his attempt to get a hand to the ball.
Wolves’ man advantage didn’t seem apparent, however a searching ball down the flank caught the defence off guard, leaving Raul Jiminez clear who was met by Jordan Pickford, who had made himself big enough to block the shot.
Attacking in spells, Everton produced a great piece of interplay that included Baines, Tosun & Richarlison, who galloped onto a wall pass & curled the ball around Conor Coady into the bottom corner. A delightful finish & a dream debut double with 20 minutes to go.
The pressure of the 11 men of Wolves mounted for the remainder of the game. Despite a solid defensive performance, Michael Keane in particular, the back line was caught sleeping as Neves whipped a great ball into the box, for the impressive Raul Jiminez to head the home side level for the second time in the remaining 10 minutes.
“The one decision was a harsh decision by the referee. It doesn’t look a foul & of course it’s not a red card” said Silva clearly disgruntled by Pawson’s big decision to send Jagielka off. “You are playing a good game & 1 decision like that, it has a big impact on the game.”
Man of the Match Richarlison however, will remember his debut in a fonder light: “It’s a very happy day for me. I’ll keep it in my memory for life… It’s a very special day.”