Monday’s chaotic Premier League contest at King Power Stadium saw Leicester move out of the relegation zone, but left Everton fans singing at full-time. After a 2-2 draw, the travelling supporters serenaded goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with chants of “England’s number one, England’s England’s number one”. Pickford had made a crucial penalty save from international team-mate James Maddison in the first half, thanks to some clever planning. A camera close-up of the goalkeeper’s water bottle by the side of the pitch picked up a graphic attached to it showing Maddison tends to go down the middle with 60% of his efforts, and to ‘stay centre’. After feigning to go left and right, Pickford did just that – and managed to bat away Maddison’s penalty which was struck as anticipated. Pickford told Sky Sports: “I did my homework. I called it this morning where I would go. He is a good player and he would’ve expected me to move, but I double-bluffed him and got one up on him. Madders needs to learn his lesson. Don’t play poker.” It was a big moment and I’m happy to save it – it’s what I’m there for.”
Despite Everton’s perilous league position, Pickford had pledged his future to the club in February by signing a new deal which would keep him at Goodison Park until 2027. In a game where both goalkeepers shone, former Sunderland keeper Pickford made the crucial stop to deny England team-mate Maddison. It was his fifth penalty save in the Premier League – the first in four years since keeping out a Matt Ritchie effort for Newcastle in 2019 – and could well be the most important. A lucky supporter also got to take home a souvenir having held up a sign pleading for Pickford’s shirt, and the goalkeeper obliged before pumping his fists and heading down the tunnel.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Toffees the lead with a thumping penalty, but Caglar Soyuncu and Jamie Vardy turned the game around for Leicester with the veteran striker also hitting the crossbar. Maddison’s penalty miss proved critical in the end, as Alex Iwobi’s guided finish earned a point for the visitors. Leicester moved out of the bottom three on goal difference, while Everton remain in 19th place, one point behind 17th-placed Leeds with four games remaining.
Everton had 23 shots at goal, their most in a top-flight match this term, but found opposition goalkeeper Daniel Iversen in inspired form, making six saves. Despite stunning stops to deny Iwobi and Abdoulaye Doucoure late on, one came from Calvert-Lewin’s incredible miss from a couple of yards out when the Everton striker mis-hit a shot. Toffees boss Sean Dyche said: “I am more pleased with the performance [than the result]. We came here to get all three. A lot of the play was very good from us tonight.”
The Toffees face a tough task in the last four games of the season, with away trips to Brighton and Wolves and home games against league leaders Manchester City and then Bournemouth on the last day. Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think they are in massive trouble. They have a tricky run-in and they are building this new stadium. We know what happens from a player’s point of view, they will want to jump ship.”