Bruno’s blunder is a Brighton body blow as Everton escape with a 1-1 draw

first_imgShare on Messenger features Read more Share on Pinterest Ronald Koeman Share on Twitter Chris Hughton No elbow, no penalty, no Everton equaliser. This in turn would likely have meant three more home points for Albion and Ronald Koeman looking ever more twitchily over his shoulder. Chris Hughton would have presented the same picture of calm at either result, no doubt, but he would not have had to issue an encomium about the harsh lessons of the Premier League, and he would not be privately stewing over a tactical plan that so nearly worked to perfection.However smart your system is, there is no legislating for someone throwing a rick. And that ultimately was the difference at the Amex Stadium on Sunday. Everton may have been the team under pressure coming into this match, but they were also the team with a spine worth £100m-plus. In terms of price tags and raw ability this game was not a fair fight.For those who bemoan Hughton’s safety-first approach, they should consider the challenges his team face each week. And while going “toe to toe” with opponents might be exhilarating while you are in the match, the air quickly exits the balloon when you are not. So while Brighton were Everton’s equals in terms of possession throughout, in the first hour the team took not a single risk.Koeman, meanwhile, was facing a different problem. The demands on him are to generate the excitement and attacking play you would expect from a team aiming to crack the top four and that had a gross £140m lavished on them in the transfer window. For the Amex this meant the Dutchman adding youthful pace to both flanks in the form of Calvert-Lewin and Nikola Vlasic. It meant putting Wayne Rooney up top and dropping Gylfi Sigurdsson in behind him. It never really looked like working.Calvert-Lewin and Vlasic were hungry for the ball and took risks to get it. Their problem was finding team-mates once they had it. In the first half Everton struggled to get the ball beyond Brighton’s full backs, and whatever crosses did find their way through were gobbled up by Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk. The visitors’ best effort was a long range strike from Idrissa Gueye.It is one thing injecting pace into your team, but if it does not complement the set-up elsewhere, it looks less like a plan than a roll of the dice. Rooney and Sigurdsson were not quick enough or strong enough in the air to be the focal point of a tactic based on delivery from wide. Either would prefer to be interlocking play centrally. With Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield, this was not an option.Everton’s approach was a mish-mash. Koeman recognised this in the second half. He took the decision to make a change and things became even more complicated. Oumar Niasse came on for Gueye, Rooney went wide and Vlasic did something or other somewhere in the centre. It was 4-1-4-1 at a stretch and it looked a bit desperate.Hughton cannot call on an international striker who has been rotting in the reserves for a year. He could, however, call on José Izquierdo, a £13m winger signed from Club Brugge. Hughton brought him on for Solly March and what had been a 4-4-1-1 turned into a 4-3-3. Izquierdo on the left and Anthony Knockaert on the right were invited to tear at the full backs. With Everton having thrown their resources in the other direction, this move started to bear fruit.Izquierdo was a threat, his effort setting in motion a melee that led to Brighton’s goal. Knockaert, now finally asserting himself, ended the move with a powerful shot that Jordan Pickford was unable to stop. Hughton then took off Glenn Murray for Izzy Brown. The Chelsea loanee almost doubled the lead with three minutes remaining.It was a smart idea from Hughton, one full of incremental changes that calculated risk and reward. It was a plan that looked set to deliver the maximum return. And then your captain goes and does that. Share on Facebook Everton Topicscenter_img Premier League Wayne Rooney penalty rescues Everton from defeat against Brighton Brighton & Hove Albion Without having access to Brighton defender Bruno’s inner monologue, or tucking a microphone into his beard, it’s difficult to know what provoked him. Why, at such a crucial moment in the match, did he choose to charge Dominic Calvert-Lewin with an elbow, in his own penalty box? Perhaps the youngster had said something. Perhaps he had tugged surreptitiously at the Spaniard’s doughty chinwear. We’ll never know. But we can be pretty sure that had Brighton’s captain kept his arms down, Everton’s late free-kick would have landed safely in goalkeeper Mathew Ryan’s arms. Share via Email Sportblog Share on WhatsApp Share on LinkedIn Reuse this contentlast_img