Everton suffer two red cards as Rico Henry gives Brentford turnaround win

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<span>Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

It should have been the day Everton put themselves on the verge of securing Premier League survival, instead they imploded. They finished with nine men after Jarrad Branthwaite, then Salomón Rondón, set the team’s downfall in motion.

Strikes from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison were not enough, as Brentford took advantage of Branthwaite’s first-half dismissal thanks to a Séamus Coleman own goal and headers from Yoane Wissa and Rico Henry, who was the victim of Rondón’s ludicrous late lunge.

Related: Struijk strike earns draw with Brighton to keep Leeds’ survival hopes alive

Calvert-Lewin quickly showed what Everton have missed for much of this season. Making his first start since 9 April, the striker flicked a long pass back into the path of Richarlison in the third minute. The Brazil forward controlled the ball but had it whipped off his feet by Anthony Gordon on the edge of the box, allowing him to jab a shot at goal which David Raya palmed up in the air; Richarlison could only head wide.

The vociferous home fans were rewarded within 10 minutes when Gordon was tripped on the right flank. The winger dusted himself off to take the free-kick, whipping in a low cross to the front post for Richarlison to attack. His connection was weak at best, but it was enough to divert the ball across Raya into the corner, trickling into the net via a touch from Calvert-Lewin. Cue an eruption, a flare on the pitch and the smell of smoke mixed with optimism.

That optimism quickly dissipated in a controversial 10-second spell. Richarlison claimed he deserved a penalty after having his shirt pulled by Kristoffer Ajer in the box but the referee, Michael Oliver, saw nothing illegal in the grappling. Mathias Jensen cleared the ball upfield for Ivan Toney, who tweeted after the match about his family having been racially abused, to chase. The poor positioning of Everton’s defence gave him a head start. Branthwaite raced behind him but he curtailed Toney’s run outside the area by pulling him down, resulting in a red card.

Everton&#x002019;s Jarrad Branthwaite brings down Brentford&#x002019;s Ivan Toney
Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite brings down Ivan Toney and is sent off. Photograph: Jon Super/AP

“I thought it was a penalty,” Frank Lampard said. “The reality is we’re on the bad end of a lot of decisions this season. That’s hard because I have to represent the club and the fans that come here and those small margins can affect our position. I do believe if it’s a penalty on the shirt pull, it means 2-0 and 11 men, and I think we all know how that game goes.”

The mood was not improved when Everton failed to clear a corner, allowing Brentford to rebuild their attack. That resulted in a Wissa cross from the left being diverted into his own net by Coleman’s flicked header to silence Goodison once more.

Another Calvert-Lewin flick-on ensured the half ended as it started: with a Richarlison chance. He did not get the opportunity to take aim on this occasion because Mads Sørensen pulled down the Everton player, although the defender did not receive a second booking. Amid all the anxiety around the ground, Richarlison stayed calm to slot down the middle. Cue more flares.

Christian Eriksen provided the perfect cross for the equaliser. The midfielder whipped a corner to the front post where Wissa found space to flick across goal and beyond Jordan Pickford. Everton’s problems dealing with crosses were becoming clear, which is unsurprising for a team missing a centre-back for the majority of the game.

Before Brentford’s supporters had stopped celebrating the leveller, they were ahead. Jensen’s deep cross from the right was attacked with gusto by Henry, one of the smallest players on the pitch. He leapt out of a sea of blue to power a header into the top corner to complete the turnaround. Rondón committed the final act with a heinous two-footed lunge on Henry late on four minutes after coming off the bench.

Rondón will be unavailable for Everton’s crucial final two games against Crystal Palace and Arsenal and Branthwaite will miss the first of these, a further blow to Lampard. Everton sit two points clear of Burnley and one above Leeds but they will anticipate needing to win one of their remaining fixtures.

“A lot of so-called experts said we were on holiday and we didn’t have anything to fight for,” said Thomas Frank, whose side face Leeds on the final day. “We need to be very professional and want to win as many games for Brentford fans but also to show respect for the league to do everything we can because if I was in that situation, I would expect that from other teams.”

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