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Everton 2 Leicester City 2, Lukaku Goes Missing Before Upson Own Goal Saves Hosts

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LONDON – Nigel Pearson will have no cause to pick any more fights between now and the end of the season if his players continue to scrap on his behalf as much as they did at Goodison Park

The fat lady may be clearing her throat when it comes to the long-term future of Leicester City in the Premier League, but their performance in a 2-2 draw with Everton proved she is not ready to let rip just yet.

Pearson was ultimately denied what would have been a deserved victory by Matthew Upson’s 88th minute own goal after Esteben Cambiasso thought he’d secured victory. There must still be encouragement in the performance for Pearson, even if the final outcome left him frustrated.

For most of the afternoon Leicester exposed Everton’s twin personality. Roberto Martinez’s side have been lions in Europe but they are the meekest of kittens in the Premier League. Despite salvaging a late point, the only blue smiling here was David Nugent – the boyhood Everton who struck Leicester’s equaliser to cancel out Steven Naismith’s opener.

Tradition dictates Everton’s player emerge from the tunnel to the vibration of the theme from ‘Z Cars’. Martinez must be tempted to request UEFA’s Europa League anthem as a replacement. They have only three league wins at home all season.

Champions League qualification does not look beyond them via Thursday night football, but on domestic duty they’ve been looking anxiously towards the bottom six for too long, and this result and performance will appease no-one. They were booed off.

The visit of Leicester, England’s bottom club, seemed the ideal opportunity to banish once illogical notions the Merseysiders’ would linger among those scrapping in the bottom half of the table, but a grim trend continued at Goodison for the hosts.

Far from looking relegation fodder, Pearson’s side were superior and fought back impressively after it seemed luck was deserting them as they went behind against the run of play.

Dissent was audibly growing in the home stands when on 55 minutes Martinez opted to replace Ross Barkley and Muhamed Besic with Darron Gibson and Christian Atsu. Tellingly, the jeers were a consequence of the popular Besic’s exit rather than Barkley’s, whose self-belief is sapping in front of an audience increasingly intolerant of his freewheeling style.

Within sixty seconds of the change, Everton led with Gibson involved, feeding Naismith who found a gap between Wes Morgan and Upson to find the bottom corner. If Martinez was inclined to adopt a smug demeanour to those questioning his judgement, this was such a moment, but the lead would not last.

Pearson responded by showing he is capable of an inspired substitution of his own.

Within a minute of sending on Jamie Vardy and Nugent, the pair had combined to equalise on 63 minutes, assisted by unimpressive goalkeeping from Tim Howard.

Vardy scurried down the right flank and the American keeper was unable to hold on before Nugent – a boyhood Evertonian – tapped in.

Howard was also at fault for the strike which gave Leicester a 70th minute lead when he was again unable to deal with a cross from the right – this time from Danny Simpson – and Vardy gifted Cambiasso a six yarder.

Leicester deserved their advantage as they looked comfortable in Pearson’s recently revised formation including three centre-halves.

Indeed, had Jeff Schlupp’s finishing been up to standard they’d have led much sooner.

The Ghana international had three opportunities to put Leicester ahead prior to his being replaced by Nugent, a blast over from ten yards early in the second half the easiest.

Everton looked more dangerous in attack in the second half, but much of the home fans’ ire was directed towards Romelu Lukaku who missed a series of opportunities.

The Belgian made amends as his challenge on Upson from Atsu’s cross forced the mistake from the Leicester defender two minutes from the end, securing a draw which will have helped neither side. – The Telegraph

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