Everton eased some of the pressure on manager Rafael Benitez as they ground out a comeback 2-1 home win over Arsenal in the Premier League on Monday (Dec 6) as Demarai Gray struck a stunning stoppage-time winner after setting up the equaliser.
Brazilian forward Richarlison, who had two goals scrapped for marginal offsides after VAR checks, levelled in the 79th minute after Gray hit the crossbar, cancelling out Martin Odegaard’s first-half opener for the visitors.
The outcome left Arsenal seventh on 23 points from 15 games while Everton, who announced on Sunday that director of football Marcel Brands had left his position, rose to 12th on 18 points.
“The reaction of the team to the goals that were disallowed and conceding a goal at the end of the first half, we still scored goals and reacted,” Benitez told Sky Sports.
“Every player and fan is expecting that. Everybody is really pleased and hopefully it is the right step forward. Everything is against you but the character they showed today, with the fans behind, they can enjoy that.
“The fans are expecting commitment. You can talk about mistakes and we conceded because we made mistakes against a good team. In terms of commitment the players are there and the fans appreciate that.”
Everton dominated the first half but Norwegian Odegaard netted against the run of play on the stroke of halftime, steering the ball superbly past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as he got on the end of Kieran Tierney’s cross from the left.
Having had his 44th-minute header and 57th-minute strike chalked off, Richarlison beat Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale with a looping header from a rebound after Gray’s long-range shot cannoned off the woodwork.
With a share of the spoils looming, Gray sent the home fans into raptures when he cut inside two players and beat Ramsdale with a thunderbolt from 25 metres which went in off the post, giving Everton their first league win in nine games.