This was what Everton fans had been waiting for. Their team swaggered to a first away win of the season thanks to two spectacular goals and an attacking performance oozing with skill and speed, particularly from Bernard, the Brazilian winger making his first Premier League start. Leicester showed flashes of quality, too, and equalised through a tremendous goal by Ricardo Pereira after Richarlison had volleyed Everton into the lead following a cross by Bernard.
Gylfi Sigurdsson ensured Everton went home with the points by netting with a majestic strike from long-range in the 77th minute. Leicester had been reduced to 10 men by then, Wes Morgan sent off for the second time this season.
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In a rollicking encounter both sides attacked with gusto, but the visitors started and finished much the better. That must be galling for the Leicester manager, Claude Puel, who has frequently complained this season about his team’s tendency to begin matches sluggishly and has been working earnestly to address it – but not effectively, it appears.
Everton, meanwhile, implemented manager Marco Silva’s plan in a way that discomforted Leicester from the first whistle, the visitors’ intensive pressing forcing a series of mistakes.
Everton’s formation and team selections also caused Leicester problems, as Richarlison shifted to a central attacking role to allow Bernard to come in on the left wing. It took only seven minutes for the Brazilian conjurers to combine to thrilling and clinical effect.
Bernard, a free signing from Shakhtar Donetsk, created the goal with a priceless flash of skill on the left wing, tricking his way past Ricardo Pereira and Daniel Amartey before sending in a cross that Kasper Schmeichel tried to bat away. However the goalkeeper only helped the ball to Richarlison, who guided a volley into the net from eight yards.
Leicester, often overwhelmed, threatened to draw level on the counterattack when Ben Chilwell waltzed his way past Jonjoe Kenny down the left and crossed for Jamie Vardy, whose glancing header flew wide.
One minute later Bernard was back wreaking havoc down the other end, sparkling in a move that culminated with Theo Walcott forcing a save from Schmeichel from 20 yards. Bernard revelled down the left, with Amartey and Pereira perplexed by the 5ft 4in winger’s speed and trickery.
They were not the only Leicester players to struggle. Wilfred Ndidi coughed up position several times but almost made amends in the 34th minute with a hooked pass from inside his own half over the top of Everton’s press. Vardy raced on to it but poked the ball wide as Jordan Pickford rushed to the edge of the area to confront him.
Harry Maguire was guilty of inadequacy, too, when he gifted possession to Bernard in the 39th minute, inadvertently setting in motion an Everton attack that led to shot by Sigurdsson being deflected behind for a corner. As it transpired, that corner led to Leicester’s equaliser thanks to a superb counterattack.
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Nampalys Mendy fed Pereira deep inside the Leicester half and the Portuguese international, perhaps fuelled by a sense of liberation at finding himself on the opposite wing to Bernard for once, hurtled down the left. After swapping passes with Kelechi Iheanacho. Pereira turned Kenny inside out and let fly with a shot from 12 yards. Pickford got a hand to it but could not keep it out.
With newfound confidence Leicester turned the tables on the visitors in at the start of the second half. Ben Chilwell went close from the edge of the area after a jinking run past two defenders. Then Bernard produced another flourish, clipping a lovely pass in to Walcott, who swivelled past Chilwell but could not get enough power in his shot from 12 yards to beat Pickford.
If Bernard tormented the players on Leicester right-hand side, Richarlison bewildered Morgan in the middle. The centre-back was booked for clunking into the Brazilian towards the end of the first half and was given a second yellow for tackling him from behind just after the hour. That amounted to a second dismissal of the season for Leicester’s captain.
Even if Leicester had had a full complement of players, there is little they could have done to stop Sigurdsson’s outrageous goal in the 77th minute. After receiving a pass from Kurt Zouma, the Iceland international turned deftly past James Maddison and dispatched a swirling shot into the top corner of the net from over 25 yards out.
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