Report and free match highlights as Sheff Utd and Everton drew 2-2; Abdoulaye Doucoure broke the Toffees drought this season but Cameron Archer scored one then forced a Jordan Pickford own goal; Arnaut Danjuma found an Everton equaliser as Pickford made a superb late double save
Saturday 2 September 2023 18:04, UK
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Jordan Pickford went from despair to delight as his superb 99th-minute double save rounded off a thrilling 2-2 draw between Sheffield United and Everton, which did both winless teams no favours in their early season struggles.
The England No 1’s unfortunate own goal from Cameron Archer’s shot put Everton 2-1 down at half-time and while Arnaut Danjuma levelled the game at 2-2, it was left for Pickford to deny the Blades a late, late winner right at the end.
Oli McBurnie’s header from a corner was brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Pickford and the Blades striker had a second bite at the cherry – only to hit the ball against Pickford’s head and onto the post.
Asked about his match-saving moment, Pickford told TNT Sports: “I’m in the moment, we know they’re a threat on set pieces. I had to be switched on, the manager said it’s going to be 100-minute matches now, so I never lack concentration and have to be on my game.”
Earlier in the game, Archer – a £18m signing from Aston Villa playing on Premier League debut for United – had announced himself to the Blades faithful by curling in an equaliser for 1-1 after Abdoulaye Doucoure had opened Everton’s Premier League account for the season with a scrappy goal.
Despite a thriller at Bramall Lane, both sides will be left ruing the two points that fell from their grasp as their respective waits for wins linger on.
“There are a lot of positives in it, but still a few negatives as a team,” added Pickford. “We’re 1-0 up and in control of the game but then come off it a bit and they go and score two goals. That’s why I always say the Premier League is the best league in the world and you can’t take any team for granted.
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“But it’s a stepping stone, and they got a bit of luck on their goal – it hit me straight in the bonce! That’s football sometimes.
“We are our worst enemy as a team sometimes, it’s something we have to learn on as a team. Apart from the Villa game, the three other games have been so tight but the small margins we need to improve on as a team.”
With both sides coming into the game with three defeats from three, the two sides could barely hold onto the ball for more than a few seconds which created plenty of chances without dominance.
Sheffield United spurned the best early chance as John Egan headed straight at Pickford from a free-kick, though Everton made them pay moments later with a set piece of their own.
A corner was headed on by Andre Onana and Doucoure forced a close-range save from Wes Foderingham, but the Everton midfielder was able to tap home from a yard out.
Everton should have put more past Foderingham in the first half with Danjuma seeing two good openings down the left blocked, while Gustavo Hamer stung the hands of Pickford at the other end with a fierce near post effort.
Eventually, that door was blown away. Hamer’s cross from the right found McBurnie in the box, who teed up Archer for a stunning finish high into the net from the edge of the box.
Beto, making his first Everton start since his move from Udinese, blew another chance down the left along with another chance for Danjuma, with Sheffield United taking the lead on the stroke of the interval.
Sheffield United: Foderingham (6); Ahmedhodzic (5), Egan (6), Robinson (6); Baldock (7), Vini Souza (7), Norwood (6), Hamer (7), Larouci (7); McBurnie (7), Archer (8)
Subs: Thomas (7), Basham (6), Traore (6)
Everton: Pickford (7); Patterson (7), Tarkowski (6), Branthwaite (5), Young (6); Gueye (6), Doucoure (7), Onana (7); Garner (7), Beto (8), Danjuma (7)
Subs: McNeil (6), Godfrey (n/a)
Player of the match: Cameron Archer (Sheffield United)
Hamer released Archer down the left, with the Blades striker striking the foot of the post with another rasping effort. The ball rebounded off the back of Pickford in unfortunate circumstances and into the net to send Bramall Lane bananas.
That goal must have sparked an almighty half-time team talk from Sean Dyche as Everton came out the blocks flying in the second period.
Beto had two clear chances in the opening few minutes of the half, dragging one effort wide with his left foot, before heading past the far post from a corner.
But the Everton striker played a big role in the Toffees’ equaliser, laying off the ball to the onrushing Nathan Patterson, who squared for Danjuma who could not miss at the far post.
Almost immediately, United’s Yasser Larouci blazed over when he found space in the box, while his injury replacement Luke Thomas tested Pickford from close range on his Blades debut.
Jack Robinson also blazed over for the Blades, while James Tarkowski put in a heroic block to deny the same Blades defender as the clock ticked into 90.
In the 99th minute, Pickford left Bramall Lane and both sets of supporters on their knees to twice deny McBurnie in the last kick of the game.
After the game, Everton manager Sean Dyche hit out at the officials for not giving enough fouls to his team for challenges on Beto – saying the teams at the top end of the division are treated differently to his side.
“We’ve got physical teams, I know we weren’t and there was one [Sheffield United] today [on Saturday], and I’ve got no problem with that, but you have to have parity across the division,” he told TNT Sports. “Because if that’s Man City or any of the top-six players there would have been fouls all over the place, on Beto in particular.
“I just want parity. Today [Saturday], I thought it was out of kilter. I spoke to the referee and he said it wasn’t. But I think the physicality [on Saturday] in a league which has no physicality was different.”
Dyche also rued his team’s lack of ability to do the “silly basics” which saw his team go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down.
“It goes to show we have to do the basics better because most of our performance was spot on,” he said. “We were getting done on silly basics where we should be doing better with because a lot of our performance was correct.
“We had so many breakaways in good positions and we didn’t make the most of them, especially in the first half. The game should have been killed off, but I could say the same about two of the other three league games. It’s find the clarity, the mentality is good and the physicality is good.”
Meanwhile, Paul Heckingbottom admitted the draw was a fair result and praised his side’s bravery to get back in the game.
“I always tell the players, if I enjoy the game, I’m happy with them,” he said. “There’s always things we can do better, like the goals we will be disappointed in. But, I always bang on about the performance and what we want to look like.
“It was brave, it was a good game and I bet everyone enjoyed watching it at home. We are obviously disappointed with not pinching it at the end but probably a fair result.”
Sky Sports’ Sam Blitz:
The narrative of what Everton do for goals without the presence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front has been going on for too long. Perhaps the Toffees players are finally realising that now. Four goals in a week show Sean Dyche’s side are finally getting their rub of the green in front of goal.
It looked likely to be a classic day for the Merseysiders, with Arnaut Danjuma spurning a host of first-half chances as the Toffees went in behind.
But unlike against Fulham and Wolves recently, Danjuma and Everton eventually found a way with the chances and xG tally piling up.
It is worth remembering that both Danjuma and Beto are new to this Everton team and Dyche recognises that “clarity” in attack still needs to be made.
But if this is the start, the finished article could look bright.
Sheffield United travel to Tottenham after the international break on Saturday September 16. Kick-off 3pm.
Everton return to Goodison Park and host Arsenal on the same Saturday in the late kick-off, live on Sky Sports at 5.30pm.
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