Everton threw away the chance to secure their Premier League status by succumbing to a 3-2 defeat to Brentford and finishing the match with nine players after an act of self-sabotage. Everton’s season has at times resembled a roll call of dramatic capitulations, and this was another troubling afternoon for Frank Lampard’s team.
What made it worse was Everton twice went ahead against Thomas Frank’s side before being pulled back and then falling to eventual defeat. With Leeds United drawing earlier in the day and Burnley losing, Everton could have advanced clear of relegation with a win. They were unbeaten in three and when Richarlison’s attempt flicked in off Dominic Calvert-Lewin, it appeared that Everton could heading for a third victory in four.
The dismissal of Jarrad Branthwaite, drafted into Everton’s defence because of Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey’s injuries and Michael Keane reporting ill ahead of the game, was a body blow for Lampard and his team’s efforts. The 19-year-old was making only his third Premier League start of the season and lasted little over 15 minutes.
From then Everton were up against it. Brentford, buoyed and growing into the game, equalised via a Seamus Coleman own goal before Richarlison netted a penalty after being upended in the area. But the visitors had the upper hand and two goals in quick succession from Yoane Wissa and Rico Henry after the hour sealed their comeback win.
Frank’s side may have little to play for having already secured their league place next term, but this is a club who have waited a while to experience top-flight football again and attack each game that comes their way. Christian Eriksen played his customary playmaker role in midfield and had a hand in Brentford’s first two goals.
For Everton, despite such a gut-wrenching defeat, they know that three points from their last two games against Crystal Palace on Thursday and away to Arsenal on Sunday will bring this torturous campaign to a somewhat happy ending.
Story of the game
The Goodison mood was upbeat prior to kick-off given Everton’s improved position and the home side started positively too. Within the first 10 minutes Anthony Gordon had seen a powerful shot stopped by David Raya and Richarlison’s instinctive attempt had skimmed on by. But they went ahead shortly after.
It stemmed from a free-kick given after Gordon capitalised on Mads Bech Sorensen and Henry dithering only to be upended. The Everton winger delivered the set-piece from the right, Richarlison helped the ball on its way from the edge of the six-yard box before it took a nick off Calvert-Lewin and crept in at the back post.
Everton’s promising start hit a roadblock, however, when Branthwaite was dismissed. There were claims for an Everton penalty when Kristoffer Ajer pulled on Richarlison’s shirt, which was probably on the right side of legality. Still, a long ball over the top saw Ivan Toney through and when Branthwaite as the last man hauled the Brentford striker down, there was only one outcome and the 19-year-old walked.
Frank’s side suddenly had more room with Everton switching to a back-four and Alex Iwobi now at right back. It was a lovely pass from Eriksen which opened the door for the visitors’ equaliser. The Dane cut open Everton’s backline with a curled pass which landed at Toney’s feet, he played it on to the back post where Mbeumo weighed up his options before firing a shot which flew past Jordan Pickford via a deflection off Coleman.
Another could have quickly followed when Toney struck straight at Pickford and then the Everton ‘keeper was required to stop Mbuemo. Barring a shot from distance by Andre Gomes, Lampard’s team had failed to muster much with 10 men. That changed in the final second of the first half. A combination of Sorensen and Ajer brought Richarlison down in the area, and although it wasn’t deemed a goalscoring opportunity and the pair escaped further punishment, the Brazilian served up his own by smashing the subsequent penalty down the middle to edge Everton ahead again.
If the second half heralded 45 minutes of hanging on for Everton, then they had a job on their hands. Brentford were already hotfooting it around to find another equaliser and Frank made attacking substitutions swapping two defenders for midfielders. The visitors would have levelled again if Pickford had not palmed away a dangerous free-kick. After the hour-mark, they were and flipped this contest around.
Firstly, on 62 minutes, Eriksen delivered a corner which Wissa stooped at the near post to meet and flick a header which sailed over Pickford. Everton had erred at a set-piece once more, they could have a catalogue of them this season. Then, two minutes later, Christian Norgaard floated in a cross from the inside right channel, Henry got in ahead of Gordon to head home Brentford’s third and a very different picture had emerged.
The early jollity had disappeared and it was Lampard’s turn to throw caution to the wind. He sent on Demarai Gray and then Salomon Rondon, but Everton’s self-sabotage continued with the Venezuelan being sent off four minutes later for a rash tackle on Toney, reducing Everton to nine men for stoppage time. Survival is still in their hands, but that might not be a good thing as far as Lampard’s concerned.
Everton: Pickford; Coleman (Rondon 84), Branthwaite, Holgate; Iwobi, Doucoure, Gomes (Kenny 72), Mykolenko; Gordon (Gray 72), Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison.
Subs (not used): Begovic, Welch Allan, Price, Davies, Dele.
Brentford: Raya; Ajer (Dasilva 59), Jansson, Sorensen (Janelt 46), Henry; Jensen, Norgaard, Eriksen; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa (Roerslev 75).
Subs (not used): Lossl, Stevens, Jeanvier, Baptist, Canos, Peart-Harris.
Referee: Michael Oliver.