Demarai Gray’s stoppage-time wonder goal saw Everton snatch a dramatic 2-1 victory over Arsenal and relieve the pressure on boss Rafael Benitez.
Martin Odegaard put the Gunners in front just before half-time at Goodison Park with a neat volley from Kieran Tierney’s cross.
But despite twice being denied by VAR, Richarlison equalised with 10 minutes remaining, before Gray completed the turnaround with a stunning 25-yard effort in the second minute of stoppage time.
Now without a win in four Premier League visits to Goodison, Mikel Arteta’s side missed the chance to return to fifth place in the table.
Everton were unbeaten in their three previous home games against Arsenal in the Premier League and made a bright start to proceedings.
Top scorer Gray and Abdoulaye Doucoure were off target, while Anthony Gordon had a shot blocked inside the box.
The hosts thought they had taken a 44th-minute lead when Richarlison headed in Andros Townsend’s cross, but VAR denied them as the Brazil international strayed marginally offside.
The visitors capitalised in first-half stoppage time, Odegaard arriving late to neatly volley home Kieran Tierney’s centre.
Odegaard almost turned provider eight minutes after the restart, the former Real Madrid midfielder’s cross finding Gabriel Magalhaes, whose header was saved by Jordan Pickford.
Everton and Richarlison were denied by VAR again four minutes later, the latter offside by a fraction once more as he received Doucoure’s pass before slotting beyond Aaron Ramsdale.
But their persistence paid off 10 minutes from time, Richarlison reacting quickest to head home the rebound after Ramsdale had done brilliantly to turn Gray’s initial effort onto the crossbar.
Eddie Nketiah then squandered a glorious opportunity to snatch the points for Arsenal; the substitute somehow hitting the post with a close-range header.
It proved costly as Everton snatched all three points in the second minute of added time, Gray embarking on a strong run before bending a wonderful 25-yard strike in off the post.
What does it mean? Relief for Rafa
Everton ended a run of eight games without a win in the most dramatic fashion as they climbed to 12th in the Premier League table, with all thoughts of that fan walk-out – seemingly observed by a minority – forgotten for now.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s recent slump continues following a third defeat in four matches.
Gray the hero
For the first time in his career, Gray has now scored five goals in a single Premier League season and he reached the milestone in emphatic style.
Unlucky not to equalise with a similar effort leading to Richarlison’s equaliser – one of a game-high three shots he registered – there was no denying his bolt from the blue that sent Goodison into raptures.
Third time lucky for Richarlison
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That can certainly be said of Richarlison.
The Brazil international was twice denied by VAR, having strayed offside by the smallest of margins on both occasions.
But he kept going, recording a game-high four key passes and reacting quickest to head home the equaliser that set his side on the way to completing a remarkable turnaround.
Key Opta Facts
– Everton have won three consecutive league matches against Arsenal for the first time since April 1986.
– Arsenal have lost consecutive Premier League matches when scoring the first goal in each match, the first time they have done so since December 2016, with one of those defeats also a 2-1 loss against Everton at Goodison Park (the other was a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City).
– Martin Odegaard’s goal was the ninth consecutively scored by Arsenal in the Premier League by a player aged 23 or younger, their longest such run in Premier League history.
– Demarai Gray has scored five Premier League goals this season for Everton, his best ever return in a single campaign. Gray has scored five in his past 14 Premier League games, with his previous five goals coming over a 54-game run.
– Richarlison scored his fourth headed Premier League goal in 2021 for Everton, with only Crystal Palace forward Christian Benteke (five) scoring more headers in the competition this calendar year.
Arsenal look to respond when they host Southampton at Emirates Stadium on Saturday while, the following day, a rejuvenated Everton aim to build on this momentum away at Crystal Palace.
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