- Barkley’s 5th goal this season broke the deadlock
- Everton locked into 7th-place finish
- Watford miss chance to go 10th, remain 15th
With their season two games from the finish line and virtually nothing to play for, you’d almost understand if Everton turned in a pair of subpar performances to close out the 2016-17 Premier League season.
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On Friday, though, with Watford visiting in the final game at Goodison Park this season, Ronald Koeman‘s side cruised to victory courtesy of Ross Barkley‘s fifth goal of the season just 10 minutes after halftime.
Tom Davies forced Gomes into a difficult diving save in the 22nd minute, as the 18-year-old academy product fired from 25 yards out but Watford’s Brazilian no. 1 was quick to scramble across the face of goal and push the swerving ball wide.
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Barkley, with constant speculation over his future at Everton ongoing, put his name into the headlines once again with a well-hit strike from 25 yards out in the 56th minute. The ball’s downward movement froze Gomes ever so slightly as it dipped and moved right to left before nestling itself into the inside netting.
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Perhaps Everton should have been awarded a penalty not long after the hour mark, as Romelu Lukaku was taken down by Daryl Janmaat‘s sliding challenge in an attempt to win the ball. If Janmaat won the ball, the contact he made with it was ever so slight and simultaneous to contact with Lukaku.
The lone moment in which Joel Robles was called upon to preserve Everton’s lead came in the 87th minute, as the ball was played long and into the box, and M’Baye Niang blasted a shot toward goal from eight yards out. The Spanish goalkeeper was quick to react and dive to his right, making the save with his outstretched right hand.
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The result sees Everton, who can’t finish any higher or lower than seventh this season, cross the 60-point plateau as they reach 61 points for the first time in three seasons. Watford, meanwhile, would have gone 10 in the PL table with a win, but the defeat means they’ll spend another few days in 15th instead.