Premier League • England

Everton nerves tested as extra time required to see off competitive Hull City

Samuel Bannister
Andros Townsend celebrates scoring for Everton

Everton required extra time to see off a stubborn challenge from Hull City in an FA Cup clash that will have done little to help the nerves of Rafael Benitez.

Pressure has been building at Everton in recent weeks due to a decline in form. Some of their issues were apparent as they were given a serious test by second-tier hosts Hull. But in the end, a goal from Andros Townsend in extra time booked their place in the fourth round.

Everton gave a club debut to January signing Vitaliy Mykolenko. The left-back was one of four changes to their starting lineup; Asmir Begovic, Andre Gomes and Salomon Rondon also came in.

Everton were looking to halt a run of three games without a win. But it was their Championship opponents who took the lead inside one minute.

A free kick came in from George Honeyman on the right, which Tyler Smith – who had won it in the first place – rose to meet with a header, planting it past Begovic.

The goalkeeper had to pull out a big save to prevent a second in quick succession after a header from Tom Eaves.

Hull had started well and Begovic was called into action again to beat away a left-footed effort from Eaves on a tight angle.

Everton were in disarray and Hull kept trying to punish them. But things clicked for the Toffees when they found an equaliser in the 21st minute.

Just after chants of “sacked in the morning” were aimed in the direction of Rafael Benitez, his side levelled things up. Demarai Gray played a neat one-two with Anthony Gordon in the box before finishing into the bottom corner.

Gordon took the initiative to try and turn the scoreline around for good when bursting down the right wing. He cut cleverly inside before pulling a shot wide of the near post.

Everton seemed to have settled down somewhat and another chance came when Gray took aim from outside the box. Nathan Baxter pushed it behind for a corner, from which nothing resulted.

Then, the visitors appealed for a penalty when the ball struck Jacob Greaves on the arm. However, the referee did not concur and there is no VAR in the cup.

Still, Everton took the lead shortly after when Gomes arrived in the box to head in a cross from Jonjoe Kenny.

But Benitez’s men were scrambling at the back straight after. Hull were not ready to drop their intensity, ensuring the deficit was just the one goal by half-time.

Hull hit back in second half to force extra time – which Everton win

Everton started the second half with intent. Around 10 minutes after the re-start, Gray spun away from his marker, drove forward and set up Gordon. Baxter batted away his effort.

The Premier League side seemed to have taken the sting out of the game. But Hull hit back with 20 minutes left – and in some style.

All three substitutes sent on by Grant McCann combined; Tom Huddlestone won the ball, George Moncur carried it to the edge of the area and Ryan Longman curled it into the top corner first time.

All of a sudden, the momentum had taken another shift. Everton had to pick themselves up again and it was Gray who took it upon himself to try. He almost curled the ball in in similar fashion to how Longman had at the other end, but it dropped wide.

Then, Everton could have claimed for another handball in the box. Gray’s attempt struck – once again – Greaves in the arm, but the officials did not award a penalty.

Everton went close when Gray pulled the ball across the face of goal. The linesman’s flag was up, anyway.

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At the other end, Keane Lewis-Potter cut in and fired a shot against the post.

Hull had half a chance to win it in the final minute of normal time after Longman sent in an inviting cross for Eaves. However, he headed it behind his strike partner.

Rondon raced away up the other end, going down from a challenge from Honeyman on the edge of the box. But no foul was awarded, so any last chance to avoid extra time was taken away.

Extra time began in quiet fashion until Everton scored in its ninth minute. Townsend took a couple of stepovers before sending a swerving shot from outside the box beyond Baxter.

Finally, Begovic made a splendid save in the second half of extra time to keep out Eaves’ close-range strike.

Therefore, Everton held on to the win and will be in the draw for the fourth round. As for Hull, the attention returns to Championship football until the end of the season.

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