Everton 4 Leicester City 2: Romelu Lukaku double helps hosts to thrilling win

Chris Bascombe
Romelu Lukaku scores for Everton against Leicester  - Getty Images Europe

Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley have become a flourishing Everton partnership, but doubts remain as to whether this season signals the peak or the beginning of the end of their relationship.

Not for the first time this season, while praising Barkley in one reply, manager Ronald Koeman felt compelled to warn him in another. In fact, it is as if the Dutch coach takes a truth serum before every press conference. 

“We offer him a new contract and two possibilities. One is sign – if he doesn’t, we need to sell the player. It is simple. It is not so difficult in my opinion,” said Koeman, when quizzed on Barkley’s future.

It was a potentially fractious end to what had been another encouraging afternoon in which Barkley shone, especially with his Beckhamesque whip of the right boot to locate Lukaku’s forehead for an equaliser on 23 minutes.

Koeman wants this to be an exciting glimpse of the future, but he cannot be blamed for seeking a swift resolution to situations that will confirm the commitment or otherwise of his prized assets.

Everton 2 - 2 Leicester (Romelu Lukaku, 23 min)

Lukaku’s craving for silverware may be leaving him dissatisfied, but he is in prime position to get his hands on one trophy this season: the golden boot. His two goals consolidated his place at the top of the Premier League leaderboard, four ahead of Harry Kane. He is also collecting plenty of milestones.

The Belgian has scored in eight consecutive home fixtures, a feat last achieved for Everton by former England striker Fred Pickering in 1965. Dixie Dean (inevitably) did it too, so this is a not-too-shoddy return for a striker who was the subject of an impassioned defence from his manager in midweek.

The lingering criticism of Lukaku is that he is a flat-track bully. Leicester, the defending champions and England’s last Champions League hope, may question whether they deserve that description given that this was Craig Shakespeare’s first defeat as manager. Lukaku has 10 goals in his past five home games. He may yet become the first Everton player since Gary Lineker to score 30 in a season.

Ross Barkley tries to break clear for Everton

The striker has made known his irritation that his 24 goals – 23 in the Premier League – are contributing to an attempt to qualify for the Europa League rather than the Champions League, but Koeman’s hopes of a top-five finish remain intact, and that would be a solid base from which to attack the top four next year should Lukaku and Barkley be retained.

“Even if they don’t perform on the level, we try to keep the best players,” said Koeman. “We spoke a lot about Ross and Rom because they are really important, and most of the time the quality of the players can be the difference between Everton and the opponent. Today they played really well. We know Rom is a great finisher but Ross played really well between the lines. I think he should have scored one, but it is what you want to see. They played outstanding, but the whole team performance was outstanding.”

This was an odd game. You know you are in peculiar territory when the referee is part of the goal celebrations after 29 seconds.

Of the eight teams playing in the Champions League this week only Leicester played on Sunday

That is all the time Everton needed to open the scoring and in the midst of the applause for Tom Davies, official Robert Madley earnt a pat on the back from Morgan Schneiderlin.

With the crowd shrieking for a penalty after Kevin Mirallas had been tugged to the turf by Daniel Amartey, Madley urged play on and Davies duly sidefooted past Kasper Schmeichel. It was the quickest goal of this Premier League season.

This was a chaotic start to what, certainly in the first half, was an entertaining but defensively abysmal game. For a while it looked like it would mirror Leicester’s season, with a hideous opening provoking a ruthless response.

After 10 minutes the visitors were ahead: the pacey but erratic Demarai Gray sent Islam Slimani clear for the equaliser and then Joel Robles indulged in one of those flappy hand routines that still occur too frequently. He effectively waved Marc Albrighton’s free-kick into the top corner.

Everton 4 - 2 Leicester (Romelu Lukaku, 57 min)

Everton retaliated with the Barkley cross for Lukaku that had his fan club purring, then Schmeichel denied Barkley only for Mirallas’s corner to find Phil Jagielka to secure a half-time lead.

Leicester’s failings from set-pieces were further exposed on 58 minutes when the same combination – a Mirallas set-piece and Jagielka header – found Lukaku free at the back post for his second.

This was a seventh consecutive home win for Koeman. It is a convincing run, but work still needs to be done to ensure that Lukaku and Barkley are among those feeling reassured.

5:59PM

Chris Bascombe's match report

Is above, summarising what was a pretty crazy game. Can anyone catch Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot? 

5:52PM

Time on ball (at full time)

Possession: Everton vs Leicester 5:52PM

Average touch positions (full time)

Average touch positions (full time) 5:51PM

Full-time

The final whistle goes, and Everton run out 4-2 winners. They move level on points with sixth-placed Arsenal, but they stay in seventh on goal difference and have played three games more than Arsene Wenger's side. 

Everton

5:49PM

90+1 min

Three minutes of added time to be played. 

5:49PM

90 min

Andy Hinchcliffe gives the man of the match award to Ross Barkley. Not sure I agree with that, but there isn't an obvious candidate to be fair. Lukaku, Davies and Pennington have all impressed. 

5:47PM

89 min

Everton break up the other end, and Lukaku is sent through towards goal by Mirallas. The striker though is forced wide by Amartey and slices his effort well wide. 

5:46PM

88 min

Leicester win a corner and again Ulloa is so close to reducing the deficit, but his header from about six yards out is well saved by Robles. 

Ulloa

5:44PM

86 min

Barkley has an effort on goal from just outside the box, but it lacks power on his less-favoured left foot and dribbles through to Schmeichel. 

5:43PM

85 min

It's taken a while, but I would say we're in petering out territory now. 

5:41PM

82 min

Lukaku is unceremoniously dumped to the ground by Benalouane, but the defender gets away with just a quiet word.  

Jagielka 

5:38PM

80 min

Mahrez wins a free-kick just to the right of the Everton penalty area, but his resulting delivery is eventually bundled clear. 

5:37PM

79 min

Leicester change - Ulloa on for Albrighton. 

Musa forces a corner down the Leicester right, and Ulloa so nearly scores with his very first touch, but his header smashes into Gueye's head a few yards from goal. 

5:36PM

Time on ball (60 - 75 min)

Possession: Everton vs Leicester 5:35PM

76 min

Baines does brilliantly to twice deny Mahrez - first with a well-timed tackle, then with a good header from a cross-field pass. Leicester are trying to get the Algerian on the ball at every opportunity. 

5:31PM

73 min

Good defending from Chilwell to stay on his feet and do enough to block off Lukaku as the Belgian looked to get a shot away inside the box. 

Schneiderlin meanwhile is replaced by Gareth Barry for Everton. 

5:30PM

72 min

Everton had 28 touches in the opposition box, compared to Leicester's six!  

Everton vs Leicester 5:29PM

70 min

Leicester getting the ball wide and trying to test Robles by putting crosses into the box. The Everton keeper looks far from rock solid, but Leicester can't get enough players around him to capitalise. 

5:26PM

69 min

Everton for the first time all match have started sitting deep and allowing Leicester onto them. Fair enough given they have a two-goal lead to defend, and know how much Leicester enjoy playing on the counter. 

Lukaku makes it 4-2 

5:23PM

64 min

King goes into the book for a late challenge on Gueye. Madley did well to come back for the booking after allowing Everton to play an advantage that led to Lukaku breaking into the Leicester box before misplacing his pass to Barkley. 

5:22PM

63 min

Want to feel old? Everton's Tom Davies was born on the day England went out on penalties to Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. 

5:19PM

61 min

Double change for Leicester - Gray and Vardy off for Musa and Mahrez. Gray had his moments before fading, while Vardy barely had a kick - credit the 22-year-old Pennington for marshalling him so well. 

5:19PM

Time on ball (45 - 60 min)

Possession: Everton vs Leicester 5:17PM

GOAL! Everton 4 Leicester 2 (Lukaku 57')

Everton in control now, as Mirallas' corner finds its way to Lukaku a few yards out via a deflected header from Jagielka. The Belgian lashes home with his right foot for his 17th goal in his last 19 matches, and Leicester are right up against it now.

Everton 4 - 2 Leicester (Romelu Lukaku, 57 min) 5:14PM

56 min

Tackles flying in now, and Barkley is sent sprawling by a meaty King tackle. Referee Madley is taking a pretty lenient view of things, but he's been consistent and tried to let the game flow. 

Madley

5:12PM

54 min

Really hope this doesn't turn out out to be one of those games where after a brilliant first half it peters out in the second. Thankfully there's been little in either side's defending to suggest we're anywhere near the end of the scoring. 

5:09PM

52 min

Slimani's attempted cross is deflected onto the side netting, and Huth is then penalised for a push from the resulting corner. 

5:08PM

50 min

Barkley does really well to keep hold off the ball in the middle and tee up Mirallas. The Belgian's shot is straight at Schmeichel though from about 25 yards. 

5:06PM

48 min

Hint of a penalty shout when Barkley goes down under challenge from Drinkwater in the box. No appeals from the Everton players though. 

Barkley

5:05PM

47 min

Slimani untidily barges his way into Schneiderlin with the ball up in the air and the Frenchman goes off to receive treatment. I'm sure he'll be fine to continue. 

5:03PM

46 min

We're back under way at Goodison Park. 

4:54PM

Half of the season? 

What a brilliant 45 minutes that was. Five goals, a scuffle between Huth and Mirallas, and a complete disregard for defending from both sides. 

I said at 1-1 that this had the feel of a crazy 5-3 type game, and that sense has only strengthened as the half has gone on. Leicester have Mahrez on the bench if they want to go chasing an equaliser, but Shakespeare may decide to cut his losses ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final at Atletico Madrid. 

Everton

4:48PM

Time on ball (first half)

Possession: Everton vs Leicester 4:48PM

Average touch positions (half time)

Average touch positions (half time) 4:48PM

Half-time

Albrighton tries to chip Robles from about 40 yards but gets it badly wrong, and the ball skids to safety.

It's a fitting way to end a bonkers half. Everton lead 3-2 at the break. 

Robert Huth and Kevin Mirallas square up to one another

4:46PM

45+1 min

Three minutes of time added on. 

4:46PM

45 min

Baines booked for taking down King. Albrighton whips in the resulting free-kick from out wide on the right, but Jagielka does brilliantly to get his head on it at the back post  and clear the danger. 

4:43PM

43 min

Albrighton fizzes in a cross towards Slimani, but it just has too much on it and rolls away for a goal kick. 

4:41PM

GOAL! Everton 3 Leicester 2 (Jagielka 41')

And Leicester are back in front! Mirallas curls in a brilliant corner that Jagielka nods in from about six yards. Schmeichel is raging after doing brilliantly to deny Barkley in a one-on-one just before. 

Everton 3 - 2 Leicester (Phil Jagielka, 41 min) 4:40PM

The shot count is similar

Everton have attempted six shots so far, compared to three for Leicester.

Everton vs Leicester shots on goal 4:37PM

37 min

Should have been 3-2 Everton. Lukaku takes up a position in the inside-right channel and after cutting inisde Chilwell looks to bend one into the far corner with that trusty left foot. He gets too much on it though and it flies high and wide. 

Miss: Everton 2 - 2 Leicester (Romelu Lukaku, 37 min) 4:36PM

Everton making inroads into the visitors' territory

The home side are starting to get hold of the ball in the final third against Leicester.

Everton vs Leicester 4:36PM

36 min 

Jagielka gives away a pretty soft corner, but Mirallas hoiks the ball away to safety. 

4:35PM

35 min

Slimani brings Holgate down clumsily with a textbook 'forward's challenge' to give Everton a free-kick just outside the box but near the goal-line out wide. In the end Schmeichel can come out and make an easy claim. 

4:31PM

32 min

Slimani is wearing gloves! It's 13 degrees in Everton!

Slimani

4:30PM

Time on ball (15 - 30 min)

Possession: Everton vs Leicester 4:30PM

30 min

All this match was missing was a big ruckus, and that's been well and truly addressed here as Huth and Mirallas square up to each other, before loads of others fly in pretending they're going to do something. There's lots of posturing and puffing out of chests, and in the end both Huth and Mirallas are booked for grabbing each other's shirts. 

4:27PM

27 min

Baines blocks off Albrighton as the Leicester winger tries to get clear. Wonderfully Sky Sports picks up an angry Everton fan screaming as clear as day: "What's he supposed to do? F****** disappear?"

4:23PM

GOAL! Everton 2 Leicester 2 (Lukaku 23')

Everton are level! And what a goal it is! Barkley delivers the most sumptuous cross from the right-hand side, almost David Beckham esque, and Lukaku buries his header past Schmeichel from about 10 yards out.

Lukaku has now scored in eight successive home games, grabbing 12 goals in that time. 

Everton 2 - 2 Leicester (Romelu Lukaku, 23 min) 4:22PM

22 min

Holgate tries to bomb forward from right-back, but Lukaku's return pass is over-hit. Still a pretty frenetic pace to the match. 

Marc Albrighton scores for Leicester to make it 2-1

4:19PM

19 min

20-year-old Ben Chilwell has been linked with a move to Arsenal or Liverpool, and he's settled down at left-back this game after a slightly uncertain start. Will be interesting to see how he gets on today given the huge amount of hype around him. 

4:17PM

17 min

Gray is down after a robust but fair challenge from Gueye. He looks to fine to carry on though. 

No goals in the last six minutes, which is a bit disappointing. 

4:15PM

Time on ball (0 - 15 min)

Possession: Everton vs Leicester 4:14PM

14 min

Everton force a corner and try and bundle in a goal to no avail. Up the other end the whippet-like Gray has a low effort blocked by Robles. 

4:10PM

GOAL! Everton 1 Leicester 2 (Albrighton 10')

Leicester lead! Albrighton floats in a free-kick from out wide on the left that is more of a cross than a shot, but it loops over Robles and into the far corner. What an extraordinary start to this match. 

Albrighton's first away goal in the Premier League since December 2011. This is great fun. 

Everton 1 - 2 Leicester (Marc Albrighton, 10 min) 4:08PM

8 min

This has the feel of one of those bonkers end of season games that ends up something like 5-3. Let's hope so. Everton try and get their noses in front again, but Huth easily deals with a couple of crosses. 

4:04PM

GOAL! Everton 1 Leicester 1 (Slimani 4')

Leicester are level! Gray embarks on a similar run to Mirallas's and slips in Slimani with a well-weighted pass. The Algerian stroke his finish through Robles' legs with his right foot, and it's all square after five minutes. What a start. 

Everton 1 - 1 Leicester (Islam Slimani, 4 min) 4:04PM

3 min

That Davies goal was scored after 30 seconds! 

4:02PM

GOAL! Everton 1 Leicester 0 (Davies 1')

What a start for Everton! Mirallas bursts forward from half-way into the Everton box, and though he's upended, the ball runs through to Davies to take a touch past Huth and squeeze a shot past Schmeichel at his near post. Excellent refereeing there from Bobby Madley to play advantage when Mirallas was tripped as he broke into the area. 

Everton 1 - 0 Leicester (Tom Davies, 1 min) 4:00PM

Kick-off

We're under way at Goodison Park. 

3:58PM

Nearly there

Kick-off just a moment away. Here's a reminder of the two teams:

Everton: Robles, Holgate, Jagielka, Pennington, Baines, Davies, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Mirallas, Barkley, Lukaku

Subs: Stekelenburg, Barry, Valencia, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman, Kenny, J.Williams

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Benalouane, Huth, Chilwell, Albrighton, King, Drinkwater, Gray, Slimani, Vardy

Subs: Zieler, Musa, Kapustka, Simpson, Ulloa, Mahrez, Wasilewski

3:56PM

Lukaku on fire

As well as Jamie Vardy, Premier League top scorer Romelu Lukaku will be hoping to take advantage of a slightly makeshift back four. Lukaku has scored or assisted 18 goals in 14 Premier League home matches this season (13 goals, five assists). He has also scored 10 in his last six league games at Goodison Park. 

Phil Neville calls the Belgian a 'flat-track-bully' on Sky Sports. Bit harsh?!

Lukaku

3:46PM

No case for the defence

Ashley Williams' suspension means Ronald Koeman is without three potentially first-choice defenders, after losing Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori to injury in the international break. 

Jamie Vardy, with five goals in his last five league games, looks a good bet to profit. 

3:38PM

Preamble

Leicester come into this game on the back of five straight league wins - six in all competitions - under new manager Craig Shakespeare. The run has taken them from one point above the relegation zone to 11th, and if they get a draw today they will move into the top half. 

As a consequence, Shakespeare is in the enviable position of being able to make five changes to his side with Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final against Atletico Madrid in mind.

Their opponents today Everton still retain hopes of a top-five finish that would earn them a Europa League place. Ronald Koeman's side were agonisingly close to beating Manchester United on Tuesday before being denied with a stoppage-time Zlatan Ibrahimovic equaliser, and lost the Merseyside derby 3-1 three days earlier. 

A win today will move them to the same number of points as sixth-placed Arsenal, though they will have played three games more. 

Everton

3:16PM

What it all means

So Everton bring in 22-year-old Matthew Pennington to replace the suspended Ashley Williams at centre-back, while Morgan Schneiderlin is fit again and comes in for Gareth Barry. 

As expected Leicester have made changes (five in total) ahead of Wednesday night's Champions league quarter-final first leg against Atletico Madrid.

Manager Craig Shakespeare said of his selections: "Some are tactical changes, there are few niggles to protect, but also I'm picking a team to win today. It's an opportunity for some to take".

Riyad Mahrez is among those players on the bench for Leicester should they need to change things. 

Riyad Mahrez is on the bench for Leicester 

3:05PM

Team news

The teams are in...

Everton: Robles, Holgate, Jagielka, Pennington, Baines, Davies, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Mirallas, Barkley, Lukaku

Subs: Stekelenburg, Barry, Valencia, Calvert-Lewin, Lookman, Kenny, J.Williams

Leicester: Schmeichel, Amartey, Benalouane, Huth, Chilwell, Albrighton, King, Drinkwater, Gray, Slimani, Vardy

Subs: Zieler, Musa, Kapustka, Simpson, Ulloa, Mahrez, Wasilewski

3:01PM

Preview

We'll be bringing you team news and live score updates from 3pm, but prior to then have a read of our preview below.

Rookie boss Craig Shakespeare will equal a Premier League record if Leicester beat Everton but he insists the team remaining unbeaten is more important than any personal accolades.

Shakespeare is the first British boss to win his first five games in the Premier League and the 53-year-old will join some esteemed company alongside Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola as the only managers to win their first six should Leicester win at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Shakespeare wants his players to maintain the momentum they have built and remain undefeated - regardless of where that might put him in the record books.

He said: "Of course, the idea is to win. But if you can't win you make sure you don't lose.

Craig Shakespeare is on the brink of equalling a Premier League record

"I think it would mean more getting the three points rather than records. It is nice and they come with the territory of the games, but more importantly it is about the three points for us as a team. And if we cant manage to get the win then we make sure we don't lose.

"It would be nice to keep the momentum going with another win. I couldn't have wished for a better start.

"The idea is to start out and make sure you are competitive and you know the opposition's strengths and weaknesses. We know it is a difficult task against Everton but we know the players will be ready and up for it."

Pivotal to Leicester's winning streak under Shakespeare has been Jamie Vardy's return to form.

The striker had scored five Premier League goals all season up until Claudio Ranieri's sacking in February but he has netted five times in as many league games under Shakespeare.

Romelu Lukaku will be looking to add to his impressive goal tally

Explaining Vardy's upturn in fortunes, the Leicester boss said: "I think it is more a case of what the team has done for Jamie - and I think he would be the first to appreciate that.

"Confidence in strikers is there for everyone to see. He is in a rich vein of form and we need that to continue. We need to keep supplying him."

Leicester will still be without captain Wes Morgan against Everton.

The central defender has missed the last three matches with a back injury and he will remain on the sidelines at Goodison Park, as well as missing the first leg of the Foxes' Champions League quarter-final clash in Madrid next week.

Midfielder Nampalys Mendy is also still out with his knee problem and he is set to see a specialist.

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