Ever­ton’s cup drought goes on as Le­ices­ter edge through

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT - At Good­i­son Park

If this was more like the Le­ices­ter City of last sea­son, it was also same old rot­ten Ever­ton. De­feat means, bar­ring a mir­a­cle in the Premier League, they will not be able to win a tro­phy un­til 2018 at the ear­li­est. Mem­o­ries of their last, which came in this com­pe­ti­tion 22 years ago, will soon fade to sepia tint.

Le­ices­ter have not won in the league away from home this sea­son, but they were ruth­less in vic­tory here. Thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s sev­enth FA Cup goal in seven FA Cup matches, Le­ices­ter had fallen be­hind in the 63rd minute. By minute 71, though, they were ahead; the speed of their at­tacks too quick for an Ever­ton de­fence ex­posed by too many play­ers fur­ther up the pitch not op­er­at­ing ur­gently enough with or with­out the ball.

Ahmed Musa’s pace ter­ri­fied Ramiro Funes Mori in par­tic­u­lar, and the for­ward bought last sum­mer from CSKA Moscow is now look­ing to be a ca­pa­ble deputy for Jamie Vardy, who was ab­sent from the Le­ices­ter team with a fever, de­spite Clau­dio Ranieri hav­ing ex­pected him to start, af­ter serv­ing a three-match sus­pen­sion.

“Ev­ery­body was scared when he at­tacked the space,” Ranieri said of Musa, who was in­volved at the be­gin­ning and the end of the moves that re­sulted in the goals that took Le­ices­ter through.

There was more pos­i­tive news for Ranieri, with the per­for­mance of his £15m sign­ing Wil­fred Ndidi, the Nige­rian who needed only two train­ing ses­sions to con­vince his new man­ager that he was ready to start a game. Ndidi, brought in from Genk on Thurs­day to fill the N’Golo Kanté-shaped mid­field void, is just 20 years old, but he was Le­ices­ter’s stand­out player.

When he went thigh-to-thigh with Lukaku in a chal­lenge, it was tempt­ing to de­scribe the en­gage­ment as an un­stop­pable force meet­ing an im­mov­able ob­ject. The sight of Lukaku be­ing sent sprawl­ing to the floor re­moved that pos­si­bil­ity. The sight of Ndidi dom­i­nat­ing his op­po­nents, in­deed, must have been a source of frus­tra­tion for Ron­ald Koe­man.

Ever­ton’s man­ager ad­mit­ted af­ter­wards he is des­per­ate for new sign­ings, and given that Steve Walsh, the club’s direc­tor of foot­ball, was re­cruited from Le­ices­ter only last sum­mer, you won­der whether Ndidi’s name was ever sug­gested as a po­ten­tial target. Koe­man chose to praise the ef­forts of Tom Davies, Ever­ton’s teenage mid­fielder – and yet the com­ment felt like some kind of warn­ing – per­haps even to Walsh. “If a young player at 19 is one of the best play­ers on the pitch, it says enough,” he said. “I hope ev­ery­body knows what the team needs to play and get the re­sults.”

Koe­man was fu­ri­ous with Ever­ton’s re­ac­tion to tak­ing the lead: a tap-in by Lukaku from Ger­ard Deulofeu’s cross. No Ever­ton player sensed the dan­ger when De­marai Gray re­ceived the ball and pro­ceeded to run with it. Musa – in­tro­duced in the first half be­cause of an in­jury to Leonardo Ul­loa – needed two stabs at the sub­se­quent pass that came his way.

Musa’s second goal was rather more con­vinc­ing, though; the prod­uct of some un­usu­ally pa­tient build-up around the box by his team-mates, af­ford­ing him the nec­es­sary space to slide a bril­liant fin­ish be­yond Joel Robles. It means Ever­ton’s long wait drags on.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.