Everton – Sheffield United: 17-year-old Daniel Jebbison marked his first Premier League start with the only goal in the Blades’ 1-0 victory at Goodison Park on Sunday.
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The defeat effectively ends Everton’s European pursuit as they remain 8th in the table, three points behind 7th-place West Ham United with an inferior goal difference and just two games left to play.
2 things we learned: Everton – Sheffield United
1. Blades going down, but still have their pride: Credit to Sheffield United, who have known for the better part of six months they were going to be relegated from the Premier League, yet they continue to cause the occasional upset and play with pride. While they generally lack the top-end talent required to thrive and remain in the Premier League, the Blades have endless work rate and desire, which will serve them incredibly well next season in the EFL Championship. Don’t be surprised if they come back up at the first time of asking.
2. Europe slipping away from Everton: The Toffees will perhaps have no better chance for a few good years to qualify for European competition, yet Carlo Ancelotti’s side has floundered down the stretch, winning just twice from their last 10 games. With Tottenham and Arsenal looking like the worst possible versions of themselves, this season was Everton’s chance to push on, climb into Europe and recruit brilliantly and aggressively in the summer. Instead, they’re likely headed for 8th place (maybe even 9th) and a challenging transfer window without European football to offer.
Jebbison took just seven minutes to open the scoring, displaying a real poacher’s instinct inside the penalty area. Jack Robinson crossed from the left side and Jebbison timed his run to the far post perfectly to prod home from inside the six-yard box.
The teenager nearly had his second goal of the game in the 35th minute, when a backpass came up miles short of Jordan Pickford and Jebbison pounced quickly. He tried to chip the goalkeeper one-on-one, but Pickford stood tall and batted it away.
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Despite holding more than 60 percent of possession in the game and narrowly out-shooting Sheffield United 16-10, Everton created very little — especially in the second half — as the result became clear and more inevitable by the minute. They sat idly by and watched as their European dreams slipped away and crashed in front of their eyes.