Everton vs Watford: Lucas Digne breaks Hornets hearts with fabulous injury-time free-kick

Everton 2-2 Watford: Javi Gracia's side thought they had finally broken their duck at Goodison Park until the former Barcelona full-back’s stunning equaliser at the death

Simon Hughes
Goodison Park
Monday 10 December 2018 22:43
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A day which started with stories wafting from Catalonia about Barcelona deciding on whether they should move next for Harry Kane or Richarlison ended with the latter scoring and celebrating the moment by rushing towards Watford supporters by beating his chest.

It is a matter for Everton to determine whether this emerging team matches the level of progress being made by their star player and convince him to stay on Merseyside for a bit longer than the year he spent at Watford and so, a draw at home to his former club – in spite of an injury time equaliser – is not a particularly good look when you consider where it places Everton and the distance between them and a position that would earn qualification for Europe.

Revenge had been a theme, of course, because of the manner of Marco Silva’s exit from Watford as manager eleven months ago. Though Everton have impressed under his guidance so far it has been a frustrating ten days for him, with an agonising defeat in the Merseyside derby being followed by just a couple of points claimed from two winnable home fixtures.

There had been a sense that Everton were getting Watford at the right time, an opponent that had lost their previous three games and had managed just one point from their last five.

Form as well as injuries had prompted Javi Gracia into the sort of changes that should also have encouraged Everton. Two players were starting matches in the Premier League for the first time here; one of them Domingos Quina being the second youngest in the club’s history and the other, a 25-year-old midfielder in Ken Sema who was making the step up from Swedish football where he played for Ostersunds.

Everton’s opening goal neatly illustrated the change Silva has brought to Goodison Park, with Andre Gomes offering power as well as panache by taking control of a move that would have involved Theo Walcott in an offside position but for the Portuguese midfielder’s authority. From there, Richarlison was found and the finish that followed involved absolute power as well as precision.

It would be understandable if Watford supporters were incensed by the celebrations of a forward who came to symbolise last season’s downturn after Silva’s departure when he did not score once in 28 games having initially impressed with five goals in thirteen.

Seamus Coleman's own goal let Watford back into the game

This led to his move to Everton being regarded as an expensive gamble when a £40million deal was agreed but Silva’s judgement has since been vindicated, not only because of the Brazilian’s goalscoring record but also his wider importance to the structure of this team. Had it not been for the outstretched limb of Jose Holebas, Richarlison would surely have made it 2-0 to Everton, leaving Watford with an impossible-looking task.

For a side behind and already on a bad run, Watford’s response was impressive. Quina enjoyed a fine evening on his full debut, impressing with his running strength and ability to switch lanes with a variety of short and long-range passes.

If football was fair, indeed, Watford would have been level at half time and Yerry Mina may have been sent off but due to Troy Deeney not taking either of his opportunities and referee Kevin Friend electing not to award a foul by Mina on Isaac Success that could have earned him a second yellow card, Everton’s lead remained.

Doucoure thought he had scored the winner for Watford (AFP/Getty)

That would change in the space of five minutes midway through the second half when there was a sequence of wonderful chaos. Watford’s equaliser came from a Roberto Pereyra shot that cannoned off the post and then Seamus Coleman’s knee for an own goal. Their lead was established through Abdoulaye Doucoure’s header via a Pereyra cross. Everton might then have made it 2-2 after Christian Kabasele fouled Mina from Lucas Digne's long-throw but Ben Foster saved Gylfi Sigurdsson’s short penalty with his shins.

Twenty-five minutes were left to play and it felt like Everton were beaten. Yet would be echoes of last season when late goals heaved them to victory at Silva’s expense, an outcome that sent him spinning towards the sack two months later. This time, there was just the one goal: a wonderful free-kick, delivered by Digne in the 96th minute. It was not really an ending Watford deserved.

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