Tuesday 17 September 2019

Koeman relieved after Rooney penalty saves point for Everton

Everton's late equaliser left Ronald Koeman, left, and Chris Hughton with contrasting emotions
Everton's late equaliser left Ronald Koeman, left, and Chris Hughton with contrasting emotions

Ronald Koeman was grateful for a late Wayne Rooney penalty as Everton snatched a 1-1 draw at Brighton.

The struggling Toffees were staring at another defeat when Anthony Knockaert fired Brighton ahead eight minutes from time.

But Seagulls captain Bruno was penalised for fouling Dominic Calvert-Lewin with two minutes remaining and Rooney tucked home the equaliser.

The goal is unlikely to lift the pressure on Koeman, whose out-of-sorts side are still without an away win since January.

Nevertheless the Dutchman felt it was a performance Everton can build on as they bid to kick-start their stuttering season.

"I think we deserved something out of the afternoon," he said.

"We know we can play better but the commitment and belief was really positive. At least it's one point.

"It's not easy in the Premier League, and going to Brighton, so let's hope that point gives the boys a little bit of confidence.

"Even at 1-0 down I thought we could come back and score a goal. The players kept the belief, that's where I'm really proud of them.

"Taking penalties is not the most difficult job but, at that moment, if your team needs points and you keep calm then that is experience and that is world-class."

Despite a television-friendly kick-off slot the match was not actually screened anywhere in the UK - although bizarrely it was live in India.

Unfortunately for the viewers on the subcontinent there was little to savour until the final 10 minutes of an otherwise forgettable encounter on the south coast.

Brighton's livewire sub Jose Izquierdo sparked the late drama when his drive rebounded into the path of Knockaert, who smashed it past Jordan Pickford to give the hosts the lead.

But Bruno's clumsy elbow into the neck of Calvert-Lewin in a crowded penalty area earned Everton a reprieve as Rooney stepped up to roll in the spot-kick.

The visitors almost snatched a winner at the death but Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan pulled off a fine double save to deny Kevin Mirallas.

However, Seagulls boss Chris Hughton admitted: "It feels more like a defeat.

"Despite the start Everton have had, they have some real quality and having got ahead, I thought deservedly, then the overriding feeling is disappointment.

"I was grateful to my goalkeeper at the end, though. He played really well and they were two great saves. It could have been worse."

PA Media

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