Everton secured their first victory under caretaker manager David Unsworth in dramatic fashion as Watford’s Tom Cleverley missed a 100th minute penalty to hand them a vital three points on Sunday.
After a first-half devoid of any quality the game suddenly burst into life when Richarlison and Christian Kabasele gave the visitors a healthy two-goal advantage either side of a nasty injury to goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, who had to be withdrawn on the hour after a lengthy stoppage.
It was an error from his replacement Orestis Karnezis, making his Everton debut, which allowed the hosts a sniff after he rushed out of his area, only for Oumar Niasse to run past and fumble the ball in.
A remarkable second-half showed no signs of letting up either, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin rising to head home from a corner to pull things level and give the hosts hope of going in search of a winner.
That is exactly what they did in the first minute of injury time, with Leighton Baines firing home from the spot after Aaran Lennon was unceremoniously brought down in the area by Jose Holebas.
However, the drama wasn’t done there and Watford had the chance to earn a late, late point in the 100th minute with a penalty of their own, only to see ex-Toffee Cleverley drag his effort wide of the post.
The result signalled Everton’s first win in nine games in all competitions, lifting them up into 15th in the Premier League table, whilst Watford were subjected to their third successive top-flight defeat.
Everton show signs of resolve in comeback win
When Watford opened-up their two-goal advantage over Everton with less than half an hour to go, there wouldn’t have been many home supporters that could have anticipated what would happen next.
It certainly hasn’t been the best of times for the Toffees in recent weeks, getting booted out of the Europa League and struggling to find any sort of form in the Premier League as they look to move away from any relegation trouble, and it felt like a disappointing sense of déjà vu after 64 minutes.
But David Unsworth’s side showed a rare sign of resolve to secure the most unlikely of three points, with Niasse and Calvert-Lewin proving saviour once again this season with respective second-half efforts.
Whilst it’s unlikely that the win will convince the Everton owners to give Unsworth the job on a full-time basis you could feel the sense of relief around the blue side of Merseyside at the end, exemplified in the raucous cheer from their faithful when Tom Cleverley’s penalty went wide of the post at the death.
It’s scenarios like this that so often turn a team’s season around and, in taking Everton three points further away from the drop zone, the Toffees will hope Sunday was just the start of their redemption.
Nightmare debut for Orestis Karnezis as Watford falter
After their impressive start to the season started turning a few heads through the Premier League, Watford’s momentum under Marco Silva seems to have stalled after three consecutive defeats.
They only have themselves to blame for the defeat at Goodison too, letting a seemingly comfortable two-goal lead slip through their fingers with a combination of rash, hurried defending and an unfortunate and untimely injury to first-choice goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes with 59 minutes played.
This injury to Gomes – with the score at 1-0 – gave deadline day signing Orestis Karnezis his first opportunity to impress in England but his arrival transpired to be the architect of his side’s downfall.
The veteran Greek goalkeeper – who had only played four games in the past six months, all for his country – showed his level of rustiness when he came needlessly marauding out of his box to try and claim a ball over the top, only to lose the ball to Niasse who had the easy task of tucking into the net.
And he could have done far better for Everton’s second too, being beaten too easily by Calvert-Lewin’s header, and it’s fair to say that it was a far from dream debut for the deadline day arrival from Udinese.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin continues his breakthrough on Merseyside
Yet, for all of Karnezis’ woes, the Toffees deserve a lot of credit.
Whilst Everton have endured a far from memorable start to the 2017-18 campaign, one player who has been able to hold his head high throughout their turmoil has been young striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The 20-year-old has been a revelation in turbulent times at Goodison Park, and the fact that he has been able to impress in tough circumstances is testament to his character as a budding footballer.
His effort on Sunday was his first in the season in the Premier League – with his other four coming from other competitions – but it just re-enforced the point that he is the future of Everton, and whoever the new appointment as manager at the club would be completely foolish not to continue developing the striker.
Calvert-Lewin has been involved in more goals than any of his misfiring teammates this season (five goals and two assists) and he proves to be a handful for defences, and it was his second-half introduction in the place of Wayne Rooney that gave the hosts extra impetus to go for an equaliser.
There’s the worry that he’s harbouring too much pressure on his shoulders to deliver each week at such a young age but, as English talent goes, there aren’t many in the league with his raw potential.