Auger-Aliassime bumps slump to beat qualifier at Barcelona Open
Everton eased some of the pressure on manager Rafa Benitez as they ground out a comeback 2-1 home victory over Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday as Demarai Gray struck a stunning stoppage-time winner after setting up the equalizer.
Brazilian forward Richarlison, who had two goals scrapped for marginal offsides after VAR checks, leveled in the 79th minute after Gray hit the crossbar, cancelling out Martin Odegaard’s first-half opener for the visitors.
The outcome left Arsenal seventh on 23 points from 15 games while Everton, who revealed on Sunday that director of football Marcel Brands had left his position, rose to 12th on 18 points.
“I’m very disappointed. I think in the first half we were inconsistent with the ball … we didn’t have enough penetration or threat on the opponents’ goal,” Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said.
“One of the few times we did it we scored a goal from Martin and then in the second half we had to grab the game … but again, in moments we were sloppy.
“We gave too many balls away too easily and encouraged them against the movement that they had in the press.”
Everton captain Seamus Coleman praised the home fans who lifted the Toffees in the face of adversity after they fell behind, having also singled out Gray’s fine performance.
“We knew whatever goes on behind the scenes, the fans always come here to support us,” Coleman told Sky Sports. “They got behind us from minute one to minute 90 and got us over the line.
“I tell him [Gray] every day. Sometimes these players don’t realise how good they can be. He has bundles of ability. He needs to work hard every day as that is what the top players do. He has done that this week.”
Everton dominated the first half and created several half-chances before Richarlison headed in a 44th-minute free kick from Andros Townsend, only for his effort to be chalked off.
Norwegian Odegaard then scored on the stroke of halftime from Arsenal’s first purposeful move, steering the ball superbly past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as he got on the end of Kieran Tierney’s cross from the left.
Richarlison thought he had equalized in the 57th minute when he drove the ball inside the near post from close range, but Everton were again denied by VAR leaving the Brazilian shaking his head in disbelief.
But it was third time lucky for Richarlison as he beat Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale with a looping header from a rebound after Gray’s long-range shot cannoned off the woodwork, setting up a frantic climax.
With a share of the spoils looming, Gray sent the home fans into raptures when he cut inside two players and beat Ramsdale with a thunderbolt from 25 metres which went in off the post, giving Everton their first league victory in nine matches.
Benitez praised how his side came back and fought through adversity.
Gray, who was also involved in the equalizer for Richarlison after his shot rebounded off the crossbar for the Brazilian to head home, said his own spectacular winner was his best moment at Everton since he joined from Leicester City in July.
“It was a crazy moment, my best moment here so far,” he said. “As a group we have gone through this bad patch but we have stuck together. With the fans like that, behind us for the whole game, it’s more than deserved.”
Odegaard said Arsenal were disappointed to suffer a third successive league defeat after taking the lead at Goodison Park, albeit against the run of play.
“It’s a hard one to take. I think in general we were not at the level we needed to be at today,” said the Norwegian. “We have to do better when we have that lead. We stopped playing and gave them the game they wanted to play. “When you’re leading 1-0 you get afraid to lose the win and in my opinion that’s what we did wrong today. You go for the second goal and that was the intention but we didn’t manage to do that on the pitch.”