When Everton captain Seamus Coleman described Leeds United’ visit as a “six-pointer” in his programme notes, even he couldn’t have guessed he’d end up as the match winner.
Coleman did his core job at right-back extremely well, keeping exciting Leeds winger Wilfred Gnonto quiet, but the bonus was also scoring an outstanding goal, his first since last February against the same opponents.
As a result, Everton climbed out of the relegation and Leeds fell into it. Gnonto wasn’t happy at the end, squaring up to Coleman with Leeds interim Michael Skubala among those to separate them.
Coleman was fired up all afternoon and his club should be grateful for that.
The decisive moment arrived after 64 minutes when the 34-year-old showed plenty of willing, and a decent turn of foot, to chase Alex Iwobi’s long pass down the right.
Everton picked up a vital three points in a fiery bottom of the table clash against Leeds at Goodison Park
Seamus Coleman sweetly struck the ball from the byline and caught out Illan Meslier in goal
Tempers flared between the two sides at the end of the first-half, with four players picking up yellow cards
Coleman got to the ball before defender Robin Koch and kept ploughing forward. With Koch and goalkeeper Illan Meslier anticipating a cross, the Irishman then fired into the net from an acute angle with Meslier helpless having strayed a few yards off his line.
‘Seamus has had a lot of managers at Everton and every one has played him and said what a great professional he is,’ said Dyche. ‘His age is not relevant as long as he has that edge and it was a fantastic run and finish to win the match.
‘The win re-enforced the work we are trying to do with the players. It’s about finding that balance between defending solidly and having the freedom to play ourselves. We want to play effective football and I think it was today.’
While Sean Dyche was feted after a second consecutive 1-0 home win, Leeds fans will be eager for their board to find a manager who wants to take over from Jesse Marsch.
Skubala has been holding the fort while a number of candidates have turned down a move to Elland Road but this was a flat performance without a shot on target.
If there is no change, he’ll be in the dug-out again for another big relegation battle against Southampton on Saturday. ‘At the moment I am planning for training on Monday,’ he said.
‘Illan was caught off his line,’ admitted Skubala. ‘He’s saved us points this season but he was out of position for that. Overall I thought we battled well without the ball but we didn’t create enough.’
As for Coleman, who kept his record of not losing a game when scoring, he was adamant his ambitious finish was intended and not a misplaced cross.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Everton (4-5-1): Pickford 6: Coleman 8, Coady 6, Tarkowski 7, Mykolenko 7; Iwobi 6, Onana 6 (Davies 74), Gueye 6.5, Doucoure 6, McNeil 6.5; Maupay 6 (Simms 81)
Goal: Coleman 64
Subs unused: Begovic (Gk), Holgate, Keane, Godfrey, Mina, Vinagre, GrayBooked: Doucoure, McNeil
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier 6; Ayling 6, Wober 5.5 (Kristensen 45 6), Koch 5.5, Firpo 6.5; Adams 7, McKennie 7 (Rutter 78); Summerfield 6 (Aaronson 61 6), Harrison 5.5 (Greenwood 86), Gnonto 6; Bamford 5.5
Subs unused: Robles (Gk), Cooper, Gyabi, Monteiro, Joseph
Booked: Adams, McKennie
Referee: Andrew Madley 7
Everton came closest to taking the lead in the first-half when Weston McKennie cleared Neil Maupay’s effort off the line
‘I suppose everyone was expecting the cross but the way my hip was feeling I couldn’t wrap my leg around it so I just thought I’d have a shot because I knew he’d be anticipating the cross,’ he said.
‘Thankfully I caught it well, I wouldn’t catch it like that if I tried again another 10 times. We got what we deserved to be honest.’
A minute’s applause for former Everton player Christian Atsu who died in the Turkish earthquake reminded everyone there are some things more important than staying in the Premier League.
But once referee Andy Madley blew his whistle, no quarter was given on the pitch.
Everton spent the first half as the dominant team whilst showing at the same time why they are the lowest scorers in the division.
Twice, nobody got on the end of Dwight McNeil crosses and then he dallied and squared to Amadou Onana when Meslier’s spill looked the perfect shooting opportunity.
It was a frustrating afternoon for managerless Leeds with Patrick Bamford and Co failing to break through the Everton defence
Wober, who later went off with a shoulder injury, and Weston McKennie cleared off the line in the same attack from Conor Coady and Maupay and when James Tarkowski got his head on another set piece, Meslier sprung to his right to claw the ball away.
The tension was evident when a skirmish between McNeil and Tyler Adams developed into a melee between both sets of players.
McNeil was shoved over and guarded over by a steward to protect him from any more. Referee Andy Madley had VAR to help him work out what had happened and both original protagonists plus Abdoulaye Doucoure were booked.
Wober didn’t reappear for the second half with Leeds sending on Rasmus Kristensen instead. Brenden Aaronson was introduced after an hour to give the visitors more attacking impetus.
It was still Everton doing the pressing however with Meslier saving from Maupay and Vitalii Mykolenko.
Goodison Park held a minute’s silence in memory of former Everton footballer Christian Atsu who died in the Turkey and Syria earthquake
Everton fans continued their long-standing protests against the club’s ownership at Goodison Park
Having seen his forwards fail, Coleman then decided to take matters into his own hands. He chased a long ball down the right from Alex Iwobi and though Koch thought he had the cross covered, he whipped it into an unguarded net from an angle.
The canny Dyche sent on powerful centre-forward Ellis Simms for an additional physical presence to protect the lead and claim a vital three points
Leeds’ uncharacteristic lethargy meant they rarely looked like forcing a turnaround despite record even though record signing Georginio Rutter was introduced with 12 minutes left.
Instead, the home side looked likelier to add a second and would have done had Doucoure sorted out his feet better when through on goal.