Everton 2-2 Leicester City: Everton creates enough to level late

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Leicester City showed healthy levels of creativity, heart, and life for a team at the bottom of the table, but Everton produced enough chances to keep things even despite poor finishing by the home side.

The first half finished scoreless after a relatively boring 45 minutes, but things opened up in the second half as Steven Naismith opened things up for Everton, and while goals by David Nugent and Esteban Cambiasso had them up momentarily, an own goal by Matthew Upson created by Romelu Lukaku was the equalizer with two minutes to go.

It was cagey early on, and while Everton seemed to be the team with more of the ball, Leicester was structured and difficult to unlock. Lukaku, who finished poorly all day, had a golden opportunity to finally break down the defense, but he ripped the ball well over the bar on 26 minutes after great work down the flank from James McCarthy. Ross Barkley stamped the half-hour mark with a flailing shot over the bar as well, given a lay-off from Lukaku under duress.

Leicester had chances of their own looking bright on the break, but solid efforts from Jeffery Schlupp and Andrej Kramaric weren’t good enough to score.

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Rain began to pour down just before halftime on an already chilly day, and it went into the break without an opener as Schlupp’s volley at the end of the first 45 was heroically blocked by John Stones just before the whistle.

The second half was no different. Straight out of the gates with Leicester on the attack, Schlupp inside the top of the box under pressure laid off to Matthew James who ripped a shot. The initial effort was saved by a diving Tim Howard, who could only parry it back to Schlupp, but he missed yet again, scuffing wide with the goal gaping.

True to the game, Everton scored, but it was an ugly one. Romelu Lukaku strongly held the ball under triple pressure and found Steven Naismith on the left. Naismith cut in and snuck a shot inside the near post that tucked past a rooted Mark Schwarzer for the breakthrough.

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But it wouldn’t last long as Leicester would poach a goal soon after. Wes Morgan barged Christian Atsu off the ball, and a pair of substitutes would take over. Just on a mere minute earlier, Jamie Vardy charged down the right-hand side and sent the ball low across the box. Howard dove to stop the cross, but he couldn’t hold on and fellow sub David Nugent was there to poke the ball home.

The teams were then back to their old ways, as McCarthy beautifully worked the ball to Lukaku but he skied the effort over. That allowed Leicester in, and they made Everton pay. Tim Howard misjudged a cross from the right touchline, and instead of collecting, he got too far under it and could only get a fingertip to it. The ball fell to Jamie Vardy, and the sub set up another goal with a cutback to Esteban Cambiasso, and the Argentinian buried the chance from point-blank.

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Lukaku missed a third brilliant chance when Naismith poked a saucy flick over the defense at the feet of the Belgian, but he scuffed his chance on the run with 17 minutes to go. Finally though, he’d take a chance to level late. Atsu got a cross in past Robert Huth, and Lukaku soared through the air to power home a diving header for a 2-2 scoreline. Replays showed Lukaku would have missed wide had the ball not come off the head of Matthew Upson who was diving along with the Everton striker, and the goal was given as an own-goal.

Everton had yet another chance fall to Lukaku, but his header was straight at Schwarzer who blocked things off. The game ended furiously but no more goals would come, and the teams shared the points with neither side improving their table position.

LINEUPS

Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Besic (Atsu 55′), Barkley (Gibson 55′), Naismith (Mirallas 85′), Lennon, Lukaku.

Goals: Naismith 57′, Upson (og) 88′

Leicester City: Schwarzer, Konchesky, Morgan, Upson, James, Huth, Schlupp (Vardy 62′), Simpson, Cambiasso (King 87′), Mahrez (Nugent 62′), Kramaric.

Goals: Nugent 63′, Cambiasso 70′