It should have been the day Everton put themselves on the cusp of security Premier League Survive, instead they exploded. They finished with nine men after Jared Branthuite, then Salomon Rondon, who launched the team’s downfall.
The hits from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison weren’t enough, like Brentford He benefited from Brantwaite’s first-half red card thanks to an own goal by Seamus Coleman and a header from Yuan Wesa and Rico Henry, who was the victim of Rondon’s hilarious late rush.
Calvert quickly showed Lewin what Everton Missed most of the season. On his first start since April 9, the striker sent a long pass into Richarlison Road in the third minute. The Brazilian striker controlled the ball but was kicked with his feet by Anthony Gordon on the edge of the penalty area, allowing him to take a shot on goal that David Raya shot in the air; Richarlison can’t help but fit the head.
Roaring home fans were rewarded within 10 minutes when Gordon stumbled to the right. The winger flicked himself to take the free kick, whipping a low cross to the front post to attack Richarlison. His contact was poor at best, but it was enough to turn the ball through Raya into the corner, and the ball slipped into the net via a touch from Calvert-Lewin. It sparked an eruption, glare on the pitch and the smell of smoke mixed with optimism.
That optimism quickly dissipated in a controversial 10-second period. Richarlison claimed he deserved a penalty after Christopher Ager pulled his jersey from the penalty area but referee Michael Oliver saw nothing illegal in the grappling. Matthias Jensen put the ball up front to chase down Evan Toni, who tweeted after the match about his family being racially abused. The poor positioning of the Everton defense gave him a head start. Brantwaite raced behind him but cut back on Tony’s run out of the area by pulling him down, resulting in a red card.
“I thought it was a penalty,” said Frank Lampard. “The truth is we’re on the bad end of a lot of decisions this season. It’s tough because I have to represent the club and the fans who come here and those small margins can affect our position. I really think if it’s a penalty for shirt pulling, that means 2- 0 and 11 players, and I think we all know how this match is going to go.”
The situation did not improve when Everton failed to clear a corner kick, allowing Brentford to rebuild their attack. This turned Wissa’s left cross into a net by Coleman’s header to silence Goodison once again.
Calvert Lewin flicked another halftime as it started: a chance for Richarlison. He didn’t get a chance to score on this occasion as Mads Sorensen brought down the Everton player, although the defender did not get a second booking. Amidst all the angst around the ground, Richarlison remained calm to make his way through the middle. Cue more flares.
Christian Eriksen made a perfect cross for the equalizer. The midfielder kicked a corner into the front post as Wesa found space to shoot it across the goal and out of Jordan Pickford. Everton’s passing problems became apparent, which is unsurprising for a side lacking a central defender for the majority of the match.
Before Brentford supporters stopped celebrating equality, they were up front. Jensen’s deep cross from the right was attacked enthusiastically by Henry, one of the youngest players on the field. Jump from a sea of blue to run a head in the top corner to complete the transformation. Rondon committed the final act with a gruesome two-footed lunge on Henry four minutes after coming off the bench.
Rondon will not be available in Everton’s last two important matches against Crystal Palace, and Arsenal and Brenthoite will miss the first of them, which is another blow to Lampard. Everton are two points behind Burnley and one above Leeds, but they anticipate the need to win one of their remaining matches.
“A lot of the so-called experts said we were on holiday and had nothing to fight for,” said Thomas Frank, whose team will face Leeds on the last day. “We need to be very professional and want to win the most matches for the Brentford fans but also to show respect for the league to do everything we can because if I was in this situation I would have expected it from other teams.”