One of the few ways in which managers can earn their salary during the course of matches is by making the right changes. In that case, David Moyes deserves a bonus, because his reshuffling of his resources in the second half at Goodison paid the most dramatic of instant dividends.
Two goals, one scored in typically spectacular style by one substitute, Wayne Rooney, and the other set up by another, Duncan Ferguson, transformed what would have been the most frustrating of defeats into a well-earned victory that lifts Everton to 11th place in the Premiership.
They had played well enough to be comfortably in command, but had just fallen behind to James Scowcroft's 58th- minute goal when Moyes made his move. After the success of the ploy at Portsmouth last week, he had again started with Rooney on the bench. At 2-1 down, however, he had to be brought on, replacing James McFadden on the right side of midfield. It took 10 minutes, but just as it had at Fratton Park, the wary use of Rooney's precocious gifts paid off again. Yet another substitute, Tony Hibbert, released Tomasz Radzinski down the right and Kevin Campbell rolled his low cross back for the teenager's right foot, which found the net with fierce accuracy.
Moyes then introduced the recently out-of-favour Ferguson into the action and his first meaningful touch saw him glance David Unsworth's long free-kick down for Radzinski to score the winner with a crisp volley which found the net despite Ian Walker's getting a hand to it.
There was still time for Nigel Martyn to be called upon to make an excellent save to deny Muzzy Izzet a potential equaliser, but Moyes' switches had turned out Leicester's lights.
The wonder of it was that they had every really been in this game. Everton had the visitors on the back foot from the start, Unsworth having a shot cleared off the line after four minutes and Thomas Gravesen going narrowly wide with a couple of thumping efforts.
There was no surprise when the home side took the lead after the half-hour mark, albeit with a messy goal. After Unsworth had launched a free-kick downfield, Lee Carsley held off a couple of ineffectual challenges to get in a shot which Walker blocked only for it to rebound via Carsley and Steve Howey and finally into the Leicester net. There had been little sign of the side who had won their last two away games as an attacking force, but they levelled the scores in controversial circumstances immediately before half-time.
Alan Stubbs was penalised for pulling down Les Ferdinand, when it looked equally likely to be a case of the wily veteran backing into the defender. Stubbs protested so angrily that he was booked and a free-kick was advanced by 10 yards, with Ferdinand himself blasting it through the wall and past Martyn. Both sets of players were still arguing over that award as they came off before the interval.
Everton, with Gravesen and Kevin Kilbane providing most of the game's mid-field momentum, continued to have their chances after the break, notably when Campbell headed against the crossbar. But it was Leicester who took the lead, against the run of play when Jordan Stewart was allowed to get in a cross from the left and Scowcroft's header found the corner of the net. Time to rearrange the furniture and Moyes will rarely do so to better effect.
"Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't," he said of his changes. "Today they did. We didn't deserve to be 2-1 down but we were. The players had to dig deep, but they're doing that at the moment. They showed the character and passion that we've instilled here.'' Moyes said that his use of Rooney as a substitute "eased the pressure of expectation on him. He's done the job he was doing last year - winning matches for us.''
Alan Cork, standing in for a queasy Micky Adams, regarded it as a chance which had got away: "Two goals away from home in the Premiership and you expect to win," he said. But that does not take account of the shock of the new.
Howey og 33, Rooney 71, Radzinski 79
Leicester City 2
Ferdinand 45, Scowcroft 58
Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 37,007Reuse content