They certainly made hard work of it, but eventually Everton booked their place in the third round of the Carabao Cup after overcoming Moise Kean’s second-half red card to see off a spirited effort from Championship side Huddersfield Town.
Rafael Benítez’s side looked as though they would be victims of a significant upset heading into the final stages here in West Yorkshire. Kean’s first Everton start in over a year ended with him receiving a straight red card following an altercation with Sorba Thomas, a moment which could yet be the Italian’s final act in an Everton shirt as speculation of a move away from Goodison Park continues.
With Jean-Philippe Gbamin also making only his second start for the club in two years, Everton were on the back foot for the majority of the second half here, even before Kean’s dismissal. But Andros Townsend’s strike with 10 minutes remaining proved to be the difference, although it was harsh on Carlos Corberán’s side. They dominated large periods of this entertaining Carabao Cup tie, but ultimately couldn’t capitalise on a glut of possession and territory.
Everton made nine changes from their 2-2 draw with Leeds, with Gbamin’s and Kean’s starts the standout changes. There was no shortage of entertainment from either side in the opening exchanges too, with both teams having decent chances to open the scoring. The best, however, fell to the visitors.
Niels Nkounkou’s inch-perfect cross found Kean at the near post, and Lee Nicholls produced a wonderful save in the Huddersfield goal to keep the scores level. Everton’s front three of Kean, Andros Townsend and Alex Iwobi were lively throughout an end-to-end first half, with Kean and Townsend firing wide from close-range inside the opening half hour.
Eventually, you felt the Everton pressure would tell. Huddersfield were holding their own in midfield but when Tom Davies broke free, he slipped an inch-perfect pass through to Iwobi, who made no mistake to break the deadlock. Two minutes later, Kean thought he had doubled the lead with a wonderful finish, before the flag was raised for offside to rule the goal out.
That setback did not deter Huddersfield though, who attacked with vigour and enthusiasm even after falling behind. They had a glorious opportunity to level on the half-hour mark, too. Thomas’s cross found Danel Sinani unmarked in the box, but he could only shoot straight at Asmir Begovic before firing the rebound over.
The chances kept coming for Huddersfield. Fraizer Campbell fired narrowly wide of Begovic’s post and as the pressure intensified with half-time nearing, it eventually paid off. Another mix-up in the Everton defence led to a home corner, and Thomas’s cross was met with a towering header from Tom Lees which gave Begovic no chance. On the balance of play, it was an equaliser Huddersfield thoroughly deserved.
The momentum remained with Huddersfield after half-time, too. Duane Holmes was next to force a save from Begovic, as his ferocious shot was palmed over by the Everton goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, the visitors were then undone from a set piece again, as Thomas’s pinpoint delivery enabled Matty Pearson to head past Begovic.
However, Campbell was adjudged to be offside as the ball went past Begovic, and while that was a let-off for the Premier League side, what followed a minute later was anything but. Kean and Thomas clashed in midfield, with the Everton man adjudged to have been the aggressor in the altercation and receiving a straight red card.
In control and now a man up, all the momentum was with Huddersfield. But as more chances came their way, they failed to make any of them stick. They were caught out with 10 minutes remaining as Iwobi and André Gomes combined to enable Townsend to fire past Nicholls and give the visitors the lead against the run of play. Huddersfield pressed again for a response in the final moments, but Everton held firm.