Theo Walcott struck an injury time winner as 10-man Everton came back from two goals down to stun Watford in a topsy-turvy encounter at Vicarage Road.
Carlo Ancelotti’s players raced to their jubilant supporters after Walcott applied the finishing touch to a counter-attack as Watford chased the win that would have moved them out of the Premier League relegation zone.
— Everton (@Everton) February 1, 2020
Walcott’s first goal of the season broke Everton’s run of being winless in 35 outings when they have conceded the opening goal.
After Adam Masina drove the home side ahead and Roberto Pereyra coolly added a second, Everton looked fully out of sorts, only for two goals to arrive in first-half added time from the unlikely source of central defender Yerry Mina.
Fabian Delph’s dismissal for two yellow cards in 13 second-half minutes looked set to temper the away sides’ ambition, only for Walcott to nudge home and move the Toffees to ninth in the table, their highest position since September.
Everton joy from vulnerable positions
Walcott declared himself “shattered” in the immediate aftermath but stressed his side have “ambitions to go up higher” in the table.
The striker’s first goal of the season helped Everton break their run of being winless in 35 outings when they have conceded the opening goal.
The fact they found a way to win this fixture points to a steeliness that seems to have arrived since Ancelotti took charge.
The Toffees have now lost just once in seven league games – against champions Manchester City – under the Italian.
“This is football, it’s unpredictable,” said Ancelotti, who had seen his side throw away a 2-0 lead in injury time to draw 2-2 with Newcastle in their previous league outing.
Everton were abject for 45 minutes as Watford eased ahead – Delph squandering possession for Pereyra to double the advantage.
But Mina’s goals in the 46th and 49th minutes of the opening period transformed the contest. The Colombian finished from six inches out before heading in the leveller.
The visitors carried momentum into the second period without creating anything clear cut, but when Delph saw red for missed tackles on Pereyra and Etienne Capoue, Everton again looked hugely vulnerable.
But they limited the Hornets and when former Watford player Richarlison raced away to slip in Moise Kean, his miss-hit finish fell fortunately for Walcott to seal a win that had looked so unlikely earlier in the afternoon.