Wolves 1 – 1 Everton. Everton’s fight to avoid the drop into the Championship will go down to the final day of the season despite Yerry Mina snatching a dramatic equaliser deep into stoppage time at Wolves.
The Toffees looked on course for a damaging defeat until Mina pounced in a goalmouth scramble in the final seconds of nine minutes of additional time to give Sean Dyche’s side what might prove to be a priceless point.
Everton must now anxiously await how other results pan out to discover the full extent of their task when they face Bournemouth at Goodison Park.
Wolves went ahead in a scrappy encounter after 34 minutes when Hwang Hee-Chan scored from a rebound after Everton keeper Jordan Pickford had pushed out Adama Traore’s shot.
Everton’s best opportunities came with two first-half headers from Dominic Calvert-Lewin but they suffered a severe blow when the injury-plagued striker was forced to limp off with a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time.
It now rests on that crucial clash with Bournemouth as Everton attempt to avoid their first relegation from the top tier since 1951 but this may yet be the point that helps to maintain their Premier League status.
Everton’s attempts to avoid a damaging defeat became increasingly desperate in nine chaotic minutes in the Molineux sunshine – and they brought a reward.
Michael Keane, on as a substitute for the injured Nathan Patterson, was playing as an emergency striker in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who had gone off with yet another injury.
And it was Keane who got on the end of James Tarkowski’s knockdown from Demarai Gray’s cross, setting up Mina to score through a pile of bodies in the six-yard box.
Even a draw was not ideal for Everton but ultimately this was a point they will take gratefully as it looked for so long as if they would leave Wolverhampton empty-handed.
It all now rests on other results before Everton know what they have to do at home to Bournemouth next week, with Leeds able to overhaul them and send them into the bottom three if they win at West Ham.
Everton suffered a huge blow when Calvert-Lewin sat on the turf, head in hands in despair, after pulling up with another injury as he chased an innocuous throughball.
If he is missing against Bournemouth, as seems likely from his reaction and the fact he could not carry on a few moments until the interval, it will be a serious setback.
Everton now face their third last-day fight for survival in the Premier League era on what will be a highly-charged occasion at Goodison Park.
Julen Lopetegui can reflect with satisfaction on his early months at Wolves after he succeeded the sacked Bruno Lage.
The Spaniard took the acclaim of the Wolves fans at the conclusion of their final home game of the season, even though it was tinged with disappointment after Mina’s late leveller deprived them of a win.
Lopetegui’s task when he took over was to keep Wolves in the Premier League by moving them away from a perilous position, and he has done so successfully.
He inherited a squad that required serious strengthening. Now, having achieved his first aim, he will look to put even more of his own stamp on the side by the start of next season.
It remains to be seen whether he keeps key players such as captain Ruben Neves, who received a hero’s reception as he picked up end of season awards in the centre circle after the final whistle.
Wolves can end the season knowing they are safe – now Lopetegui must move them forward.
source – BBC