Everton survive Jordan Pickford howler to snuff out Fleetwood fightback
Carlo Ancelotti warned Jordan Pickford and his defenders to “learn a lesson” despite Everton continuing their winning start to the season.
Pickford’s blunder early in the second half made their EFL third-round tie at Fleetwood a more uncomfortable night than it needed to be for the Premier League club.
They led comfortably at the break thanks to two well-taken goals from Richarlison, but Pickford presented Mark Duffy with a gift after his pass out was charged down early in the second period.
And the England No 1 – whose form has been under scrutiny for several months now – then failed to keep out Callum Camps’s overhead kick that made it 3-2 despite getting a hand to the close-range effort.
England manager Gareth Southgate will have taken note, but Ancelotti refused to put all the blame on Pickford for the first goal, although he made it clear he does not want to see a repeat.
“I think the first goal was not down to any individual mistakes – we passed the ball back to Jordan and it was a really difficult ball,” he said. “We could have behaved differently, so we didn’t do that well. Of course you have to improve there.
“You want to build up from the back, but when there is not risk. If it is risky it is not good, we can concede a goal like we did tonight and it is a good lesson for the future. I have to speak with the players that were involved when we were building up. Jordan was not the only one [to blame].”
For a while Everton were wobbling, but in the end goals from Alex Iwobi, Bernard and Moise Kean saw them through to the fourth round home tie against West Ham United.
Joey Barton, the Fleetwood manager, and an Everton fan, said: “I am delighted with the team they put out because it shows Everton are taking the competition seriously, it pays us enormous respect that they turned up and played in the correct manner, especially when you look at the gulf in class at both clubs.
“At half-time you are challenging the boys to give them a game. We started the half correctly and that allowed us to get them rattled – 5-2 probably flatters them at the end, but they were way above us tonight.”
Fleetwood’s empty Highbury Stadium was something of a culture shock for Ancelotti, who is more used to the great football cathedrals around Europe. But his team – including four players who started the 5-2 win over West Brom at the weekend – adapted well to the surroundings by dominating the first half.
Everton’s first goal was made in Brazil. Bernard’s classy pass over the top of the Fleetwood defence picked out his unmarked compatriot Richarlison who guided home a header.
Iwobi and Bernard both went close with shots, but Everton did not have long to wait for their second goal – again from Richarlison who fired home after a one-two with Iwobi.
Pickford’s blunder gave Fleetwood encouragement and the League One side kept Everton on their toes in the second period.
The much-maligned Iwobi capped a fine performance by rifling home from Anthony Gordon’s pullback, but Fleetwood refused to lie down and Camps made it 3-2 with Pickford falling into the back of his goal as he tried in vain to stop the ball.
Everton, so in control in the first half, were rattled, but Bernard’s quality finish from Gordon’s set-up and Kean’s stoppage-time goal saw them to a fourth straight victory – something they have not achieved from the start of a season in domestic matches in the Premier League era.Match details
Fleetwood (3-5-2): Cairns 7; Boyes 6, Stubbs 6 (Duffy ht), Hill 6; Burns 6, Camps 6, Whelan 6, Coutts 6 (Matete 75), Andrew 6; Evans 5 (Saunders 75), Morris 6.Substitutes: Leutwiler (g), Garner, Holgate, Morris.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Pickford 5; Kenny 7, Keane 7, Digne 7, Nkounkou 7; Sigurdsson 7, Delph 7 (Davies 62); Iwobi 8, Bernard 7, Richarlison 8 (Kean 75); Calvert-Lewin 7 (Gordon ht).Substitutes: Walcott, Doucoure, Coleman, Lossl (g).Booked: Delph.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).
Hard luck Fleetwood, who defended stoutly in the first half and had a bit of a cavalry charge in the second when they scored a couple. But Everton were far too good and, with a lot of their attacking players in hot form, they were able to score more or less at will. The only blot on the copybook for the Premier League side was Jordan PIckford getting caught in possession for the first, and arguably not doing all he might have with the second.
Oh that is the moment of the match! Nkounkou down the left, showing his pace and confidence, and now his skill and vision as well as he produces a delicious back heel right into the path of Kean, who cannot miss. That's the last action of the match.
Bernard is still full of running, pressing and harassing opponents. Albeit that it has been against limited opposition, this has been a complete midfield performance.
There will be four minutes added, Fleetwood are having plenty of the ball but Everton are keeping them pushed back and under pressure with the press.
Saunders and Matete, the subs for Fleetwood, have both done well since coming on at around 75 minutes and are causing Everton some problems in this attack,
Gordon's alive again down the left, good driving run as he comes forward through the rain. Hits a low shot at the goal that was always unlikely.
Bitty period of the game, Bernard gets a knee in the back as he goes for a ball.
That would appear to have knocked the stuffing out of Fleetwood, and to have settled the tie. Barton makes some subs.
Gordon is looking like a serious young talent. He's down the right now, he delivers a cross, and here is Bernard showing all his technique to slot the ball home. Strikes it beautifully, the Fleetwood keeper has no hope once again and that's surely the fourth round secured for the Toffees.
Everton have control of the ball and in truth they seem in control of the game, feels like those two goals were blips rather than a sustained recovery. Still, one more chance!
Gylfi is coming deep, distributing.
Fleetwood go close again! Morris cuts inside and hits the target, Pickford palms that away.
Turning into a minor classic - and all of that is partly down to Jordan Pickford! Deep cross from Fleetwood, Pickford comes, can't get there, back pedals... a bicycle kick from Camps, Pickford gets rather a limp hand on it and it is in!
But Everton hit back 90 seconds later! Gordon is straight into the action down the left flank. He crosses. Richarlison scuffs the ball, barely makes contact, but it turns into an ideal accidental assist for Iwobi - unmarked on the penalty spot and he just wellies it home.
Jordan Pickford has gifted the hosts a goal! He receives the ball, he tries to get a bit clever from the backpass, he's closed down and sub Duffy has tucked it away!
Everton kick off the second half. Gordon has come on, Calvert-Lewin, who will feel he ought to have scored, is off. Mark Duffy is on for Stubbs.
Everton have been really excellent. Hard lines on Fleetwood to face a PL side in form and high on confidence, not really sure they could have done much more. Some lovely combos from the Everton front players. Richarlison has the two goals, Bernard has made some intelligent runs, inventive play from Iwobi as well. Also catching the eye has been the 19 year old full back/wide man Nkounkou.
A superb save from Cairns keeps his team in it (just). Long ball to Calvert-Lewin, who brings it down nicely and taps it at the goal. Great stop!
Really classy goal from Everton. A long ball over from the right to Richarlison. Bernard makes the run out on the diagonal away from goal, a bit like a centre in rugby, and that takes a couple of defenders with him. Richarlison instead plays it inside to Iwobi, who returns it with a lovely creative backheel. Richarlison toe punts it home! No chance for the keeper.
Fleetwood's problem is the common one - they are defending gamely enough but there's no respite, no out ball. It's backs to the wall.
This Nkounkou looks a talent to me. he's at it again down the left, another good cross. Enjoying himself playing as a de facto left winger - and another good cross. Bernard is also in the game, he slips it to Iwobi who opens up a nice bit of space for himself and fires wide. Iwobi has really come on, I think. Looks commanding, creative, full of confidence. I found him a bit drifty at Arsenal.
Morris is on the break! He's hauled back by Delph, a clear and cynical professional foul to my eyes. Delph has the cheek to complain about the yellow.
Richarlison. Pickford hits it long, Bernard with a lovely ball over three defenders, Richarlison is there at the back post and he tucks the header away smartly. Nice no nonsense move.
Iwobi allowed time to line one up, it takes a deflection of Glenn Whelan, who used to play for Hearts the poor man. It hits the bar!
A foul on D C-L affords Everton the opportunity of a freekick, but Town deal with okay. Just about. It feels like the opener is coming.
All Everton these last few minutes. Niels Nkounkou is tearing it up down the left and he has delivered another more than handy cross, Calvert-Lewin again close. Left back Niels Nkounkou is only 19, he came on a free from Marseille and looks an exciting attacking talent down the flank, in the modern style. I don't know if he can defend or not; he hasn't had to yet in this fixture.
Good run from Josh Morris, needs a good tackle from Delph to arrest him. The hosts win a corner, it's cleared.
Nkounkou crosses... Calvert-Lewin! Ooh inches away, the ball just a half a foot too far in front of him.
Everton starting to look imposing, Richarlison has got half-free in the area a couple of times. A Fleetwood defender risks handball as he moves his arms towards a shot.
.@MorganBoyes1 back in the side tonight