Everton 0-1 Leeds United
When Leeds United completed the signing of winger Raphinha from Rennes on Premier League transfer deadline day, this SBOTOP writer was suitably impressed.
Not only did it seem an astute piece of business by the newly promoted club but here was a player capable of producing Premier League highlights to delight neutrals (and Leeds fans!).
He’s gradually been eased into English football during the first two months of the campaign but here was a moment in which he announced himself in style.
The 23 year-old hit a wonderful winning goal 11 minutes from time to cap a good move and a display in which his movement was a real plus for the Yorkshire club.
Highlights of the game
Before he rifled the ball beyond Jordan Pickford from a Jack Harrison pass, the Premier League betting odds were almost as delicately poised as the match.
There had been chances galore, a disallowed goal, and the woodwork struck as Leeds aimed to reverse their recent fortunes after just one victory in six league games
Meanwhile, Everton were bidding to win three successive home league meetings against their opponents for the first time since December 1951.
In their first meeting since a Leeds League Cup third-round victory at Elland Road in September 2012, the Toffees made two changes to the side from the 3-2 win over Fulham.
They were without left-back Lucas Digne, who requires surgery on an ankle ligament injury and could miss up to three months.
Mason Holgate and Tom Davies returned, replacing him and Yerry Mina.
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa named the same starting XI who drew 0-0 with Arsenal last Sunday with club record signing Rodrigo remaining on the bench.
Prior to kick-off, there were tears in the eyes of Carlo Ancelotti, a former opponent turned friend of Diego Maradona, as a minute’s applause was held in his memory. It must also have been emotional for his compatriot Bielsa.
Once play began, either side could have broken the deadlock in an end-to-end first half as visiting goalkeeper Illan Meslier denied Richarlison, Allan and Abdoullaye Doucoure, while James Rodriguez also had a goal disallowed, the Colombian narrowly offside as he brilliantly controlled and converted a cross from Richarlison.
At the other end, Harrison struck a post, Ben Godfrey cleared a shot off the line from the same player, while Pickford produced a series of fine saves.
There was nothing either player could have done though as a South American had the decisive word.
He may not have been an Argentine but how fitting on a day in which the game remembered arguably the best player who has ever lived.
Since Bielsa took charge of Leeds in 2018, Leeds have kept 42 clean sheets in 102 league games – more than any other side in England’s top four divisions.
Raphinha’s goal was the fourth Everton have conceded from outside the box in the Premier League this season.
While Raphinha’s winner for Leeds was the 35th attempt of the game.
This was Everton’s first defeat in 14 top-flight home games against Leeds since a 3-2 loss in August 1990 (won six, drawn seven) – a match notable for legendary goalkeeper Neville Southall’s unhappiness.
Everton have lost successive home matches for the first time since September 2019. It’s also the first time since November 2012 with PSG that Ancelotti has lost successive home league fixtures.
Everton have scored 19 goals so far this season. They have not scored 20 in their opening 10 top-flight games since 1980.
Leeds have won three of their five away matches, having won just three in total during their last Premier League campaign in 2003-04.
Thirty-five of the 88 Brazilian players to play in the Premier League have scored at least once from outside the box (40 per cent) – the highest ratio for any nation to have had 50+ players appear in the competition.
There were 20 shots in the opening 45 minutes at Goodison Park, the most in a first-half of a Premier League match this season.
In the Premier League this season, only Aston Villa vs Leeds in October (39) has seen more shots than today’s meeting between Everton and Leeds (38),
Everton continue their Premier League pursuit up the table when they travel to Burnley next weekend followed by a home match against Chelsea – the start of a four match spell within 11 days.
Leeds face Chelsea themselves next week (December 5), albeit at Stamford Bridge, before heading to east London to take on West Ham.
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