Great Britain

Sheffield United’s Daniel Jebbison pounces early to deepen Everton woes

Carlo Ancelotti’s luck is about to run out. His Everton team have produced the worst Premier League campaign at Goodison Park since 1993-94, when Mike Walker’s side almost went down on an infamous final day against Wimbledon, and to a backdrop of silence instead of the scorn that would deservedly descend from full and furious terraces.

The return of 6,500 Evertonians against Wolves on Wednesday may not be the happy homecoming that Ancelotti originally had in mind. Sheffield United, already relegated with only one away win all season, condemned an Everton team with supposed designs on European football to a ninth home league defeat.

The teenager Daniel Jebbison illuminated the contest with the winning goal on his full Premier League debut. His moment of glory, and United’s victory, was richly deserved. The visitors were hungry, committed and dangerous. Everton failed in every department as they served up another atrocious Goodison performance. Only Fulham, another relegated side, have collected fewer points at home in 2021 than Ancelotti’s expensively assembled but pedestrian team.

A deflating season for Sheffield United still has a capacity for fairytales as Jebbison demonstrated in the seventh minute. The Canadian-born England Under-18 international was chosen to lead the line by Paul Heckingbottom after his first appearance for the club as a substitute against Crystal Palace last week. At 17 years and 309 days, the striker was the youngest player to start a Premier League game for United. His first meaningful contribution was to become the youngest player to score on his Premier League debut.

Carlo Ancelotti looks on as his side slump to defeat.
Carlo Ancelotti looks on as his side slump to defeat. Photograph: Paul Greenwood/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

Jebbison’s place in the record books was made possible by the defender Jack Robinson, who weaved past weak challenges from Abdoulaye Doucouré and Allan to enter the Everton penalty area before drilling a low cross along the face of Jordan Pickford’s goal. Ben Godfrey, continuing Everton’s passive resistance, stepped out to leave the teenager free to convert at the back post. Jebbison’s last competitive start had been for Chorley while on loan at the National League North side in December, and he was understandably mobbed as the visitors celebrated a perfect start.

The teenager could easily have added a second when Mason Holgate undercooked a back-pass on the sodden pitch. The ball rolled straight to the goalscorer and confidence was evident as he attempted to chip the advancing Pickford, but his effort was clawed away by the Everton goalkeeper and Ben Osborn was unable to capitalise on the loose ball.

United were sharp in possession and fiercely committed. Everton, by contrast, had too many players going through the motions yet still created enough chances to have overturned the deficit by the interval. Aaron Ramsdale denied Allan at full stretch when the Brazilian midfielder curled a shot towards his bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the penalty area. He then produced a superb double save to thwart Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, flinging himself to his right to keep out the Brazilian’s diving header from a James Rodríguez cross and then leaping up to block the England international’s follow-up with his chest at close range. Michael Keane created another clear opening for Richarlison on the stroke of half-time but, running in behind the United defence, the striker badly scuffed a first-time volley high over the bar.

Jonathan Moss rejected Everton appeals for a penalty when Séamus Coleman’s flick struck Robinson’s outstretched hand but their latest tale of Goodison woe was not down to misfortune. Ancelotti’s team were flat once again and it was no surprise when Holgate was replaced at half-time by Gylfi Sigurdsson. The switch to 4-3-3 did not disturb United’s confident, well-organised performance, however, and if anything the threat from Everton diminished in the second half.

John Egan headed a good chance over from Oliver Norwood’s dangerous free-kick while David McGoldrick and Osborn worked tirelessly in support of Jebbison.

McGoldrick should have eased any late anxieties in the United ranks when he missed an excellent chance to double their advantage from Enda Stevens’ low cross. Not that the visitors were unduly worried as Everton laboured to their latest feeble defeat at Goodison Park.

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