Sheffield United were dealt a blow in their bid for European football as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Everton in the Premier League on Monday evening.
A limp first half saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin produce the only moment of note, as he clattered the post with a header on the stroke of half time following Theo Walcott's cross.
But the game lit up just two minutes into the second half. Richarlison turned home Gylfi Sigurdsson's wicked delivery with powerful glancing header to give the Toffees the lead, and spur Sheffield United into action.
David McGoldrick had an effort well blocked by Jarrad Branthwaite and Chris Basham sent in a selection of dangerous deliveries, but the Blades failed to test Jordan Pickford as Everton secured all three points.
1⃣5⃣ goals this season for Richarlison! pic.twitter.com/jazCKT0pdB— 90min (@90min_Football) July 20, 2020
Key Talking Point
It was a relatively drab first half, with both sides creating very few openings, as the 45 minutes passed by in a pre-season friendly-esque haze.
Everton's early second half goal appeared to shock United into action, and they immediately piled forward with more urgency. The Blades started to utilise the marauding Chris Basham down the right hand side and ask questions of the Everton backline.
John Fleck looked sharp when he came on and added a little more zip to the midfield, but United failed to produce any real save from Pickford.
Starting XI: Henderson (6), Basham (8*), Egan (6), O'Connell (6), Baldock (6), Berge (5), Norwood (6), Osborn (5), Stevens (5), McBurnie (5), McGoldrick (6)
Subs: Sharp (5), Fleck (7), Lundstram (5), Zivkovic (5)
The Sheffield United centre back offered the Blades' most dangerous attacking threat. His willingness and desire to bust a gut, bomb forward and overlap down the right flank was matched with a real quality of delivery.
Both Oli McBurnie and David McGoldrick were presented with promising openings as a result of a teasing Basham cross.
Chris Basham has been outstanding— Adam (@adambell94) July 20, 2020
Christopher basham has an incredible engine on him he’s literally a Centre back and a Right winger???— J.A (@J_amelot1) July 20, 2020
Key Talking Point
Everton switched to a 4-3-3, and although the extra man in midfield enabled them to comfortably keep the ball and enjoy the majority of possession, there was very little attacking intent in the first half.
With Walcott and Richarlison on either flank, Calvert-Lewin cut an isolated figure up top at times, and the Toffees struggled to create anything more than a half-chance; Walcott had an effort that flashed across the face of goal after a rare sharp, flowing move in the final third, while Calvert-Lewin could have been through on goal had he successfully controlled Andre Gomes' excellent lofted pass.
But their early second-half goal breathed new life into Everton, and suddenly the Toffees looked sharp, energetic and dangerous in the final third. Gomes was superb in midfield, while young Jarrad Branthwaite was a rock at the back.
Starting XI: Pickford (6), Sidibe (6), Keane (6), Branthwaite (8), Digne (6), Davies (6), Gomes (8*), Sigurdsson (6), Walcott (7), Richarlison (7), Calvert-Lewin (6)
Subs: Gordon (6), Coleman (5)
Gomes has been easing himself back after three months on the treatment table, and was yet to recapture his pre-injury form. His display against Sheffield United suggested he was well on his way to returning to his best.
The Toffees switched to a midfield three, with Sigurdsson, Tom Davies and Gomes, and this played right to the latter's strengths.
The midfielder demonstrated his vision and passing range throughout, with his ball to pick out Calvert-Lewin midway through the first half particularly superb. It was pinpoint and perfectly waited, and had the Everton striker controlled it better, he would have been clean through.
Andre Gomes has played some sensational balls tonight. He’s been really off it the last few games (maybe because of the injury, perhaps not) but you can’t deny his quality. When he gets his head up and picks a pass over the top of the defence he’s really dangerous.— Ell Bretland (@EllBretland) July 20, 2020
Andre Gomes looking a million times better in a midfield three.— Sean Lunt (@Sean_Lunt) July 20, 2020
Andre Gomes been brilliant this first half ?? he’s back ? COYB ?— Warren Caffrey (@CaffreyWarren) July 20, 2020
Sheffield United's final game of the season sees them travel to in-form Southampton on Sunday. Everton's Premier League campaign also concludes on Sunday, with the visit of relegation threatened Bournemouth.
Source : 90min