Pickford inspires Everton’s battlers to priceless away win
By John Percy
at the King Power Stadium Frank Lampard’s Everton rescue mission is gathering momentum and a first away victory in more than eight months could prove a defining moment in their troubled season. Lampard’s experiences away from Goodison Park had been excruciating since his appointment in January, with seven successive defeats on the road, but this performance included all the qualities required in a relegation scrap. Jordan Pickford, the Everton goalkeeper, was outstanding with a number of fine saves, while Lampard’s outfield players displayed fight and hunger to follow up the previous weekend’s win over Chelsea with three more crucial points. Everton hoisted themselves into 16th place, with a game in hand on their rivals, and the importance of their first away win since Aug 28 cannot be overstated. “It’s a long time coming and the away form has been a problem for us and held us back,” Lampard said. “I spoke to the players in midweek and was banging the drum that we needed to change the away results to stay in this league. We deserved this and I’m pleased that Jordan is getting the recognition. “I’m not shouting from the rooftops because we’re still in a relegation battle.” Leicester were booed off at the end of each half and their season is in grave danger of fizzling out. After their exit from the Europa Conference League in Rome on Thursday, they now have little to play for but pride and, despite an early equaliser, could not find a way past Pickford in the second half. Without the influential James Maddison because of a hamstring injury, Leicester lacked creativity and a cutting edge, and are now five league games without a win. Brendan Rodgers is targeting a major summer revamp of his squad, with up to six new signings, but needs to rediscover a spark over the four remaining matches. Rodgers said: “We’ve switched off again [from a set-piece for the second goal] and that is on me. I need to keep looking at it until the summer, when we can do something about it. “We’ve gone from being a team happy to stay in the league to one disappointed not to win a trophy. If we were to finish 14th this season, despite all the injuries we’ve had, that would be very disappointing.” Everton went ahead after six minutes, with Alex Iwobi floating over an inviting cross from the right. Vitalii Mykolenko then had time to volley the ball past Kasper Schmeichel from just outside the area. It was the Ukrainian fullback’s first Everton goal and a moment of perfect technique that was rather out of kilter with the standard of football that followed. Everton could have increased their lead five minutes later but Schmeichel managed to prevent Abdoulaye Doucoure’s shot from squirming over the goal-line. Thirty seconds later Leicester were level, with Patson Daka capitalising on a mix-up between Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman to beat Pickford from inside the area. It was an abysmal goal to concede, which could easily have damaged Everton’s morale, but they regained the lead after half an hour as Leicester’s vulnerability from set-pieces was punished yet again. Richarlison’s header from Demarai Gray’s corner was saved by Schmeichel but Mason Holgate nodded in the loose ball. Leicester fans were growing restless and Rodgers had to make changes, introducing Harvey Barnes at the break and then Jamie Vardy with 24 minutes left. Pickford produced outstanding saves to deny Nampalys Mendy and Barnes but there was no dramatic finish and Everton were untroubled as they secured a win that could prove pivotal in their scramble to safety.