Pickford’s howler gifts Leicester valuable point as Foxes remain in title fight

Jordan Pickford’s howler gave Leicester a lifeline and a valuable point, on a pulsating night which asked more questions about both teams than it answered.

With his international manager Gareth Southgate in the stand taking copious notes, the England keeper picked the most time to again leave doubts hanging over his position as the undisputed Everton No.1, with a poor error, to gift Youri Tielemans a fortunate leveller.

It was no more than the visitors deserved, for a dominant performance at Goodison that saw them enjoy 65 per cent possession, but lacking a cutting edge in the absence of injured Jamie Vardy, and in the face of a ferocious defensive rearguard from the Mersey club.

It leaves Leicester handily placed in third in the Premier League on the shoulder of Manchester United, but also wondering how they were left thankful for Pickford’s gift, after so much control of the game.

Everton, for their part, answered some of the questions of their manager Carlo Ancelotti, before this game, when he said he would discover whether his side were up to the pressure their heady position in nose-bleed territory at the business end of the table brings.

Most of his team responded in the positive, with Michael Keane leading an organised and aggressive defensive display, and James Rodriguez providing the spark that looked for so long as though it would bring them a huge victory.

James Rodriguez of Everton celebrates

Pickford’s vulnerability though, proved costly.

The home team had seemed to weather a second half storm and looked increasingly comfortable in holding Leicester at bay, until his shocker 15 minutes from time turned the game.

He flapped at a cross, but even then there seemed little danger when Youri Tielemans fired in a shot from outside the box, straight at him.

Somehow though the ball squirmed from Pickford’s two-handed grasp and crept into the corner of the net.

It is a weakness Ancelotti has questioned previously, and one his side can not afford if they are to have serious top four ambitions.

The Blues have such defensive strength they can get a result against even the most dominant teams – as this proved.

Youri Tielemans celebrates his goal against Everton
Youri Tielemans celebrates his goal

In Pickford’s defence, it was a drenching night with the ball like soap, but still, Ancelotti may consider whether he should turn to back up Robin Olsen.

The error apart it was an Italian masterclass, with Everton defending as though their lives depended on it, and then producing a smash and grab raid to take the lead.

It came from James, who is a world class creative talent, in an otherwise regimented Everton outfit. This time, he danced around Wesley Fofana, stood the defender up, and curled a thing of beauty with his right foot into the far corner, off the post.

Bu Leicester responded with the intent of a top team, impressive, dominant control bringing chances, when Pickford saved well from the lively Barnes and Justin flashed inches wide.

It took Pickford’s mistake though, to allow them back into the game, and perhaps into the title argument.

To do that, they will surely need Vardy back as quickly as possible.

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