FRANK LAMPARD roared with relief as Richarilson delivered the scuffed equaliser that gave his side a precious equaliser.
Until that moment, two minutes into added time, it had seemed like the Toffees boss and his team were stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Richarlison scored an injury-time equaliser to rescue a point against LeicesterCredit: Reuters
The late goal sparked wild scenes at Goodison ParkCredit: PA
And given the next two fixtures, they are still in a highly uncomfortable situation.
But at least they are four points above third–bottom Burnley after struggling desperately as Harvey Barnes gave Leicester an early lead.
It was one that Brendan Rodgers’ men did not look like relinquishing until that dramatic late intervention by the Toffees frontman guilty earlier of one of the misses of the season.
Up next is the Merseyside derby and a trip to Anfield. Then Chelsea will be paying a visit.
That rock and hard place may still squeeze the Toffees into the club’s first relegation from the top flight since 1951.
But for last night at least, there was a little extra hope that disaster, both in terms of Everton pride and financial pain, might be avoided.
Little wonder Lampard roared for even before the game he was reeling after discovering that Dominic Calvert-Lewin would miss not only the visit of the Foxes but Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.
The England striker who had made only 14 appearances all season is suffering from a thigh injury and will also miss the Chelsea game.
As if losing Calvert-Lewin was not bad enough things only got worse within five minutes of kick-off.
Lampard had welcomed back central defender Yerry Mina after ten weeks out with thigh problems and looked forward to the Colombian adding personality and presence to his rearguard.
But Mina could do nothing about the way Rodgers’ side cut their way through the Toffees for Barnes to claim his 50th club goal.
The move was started by Kasper Schmeichel and Mina, like so many around him, was just a spectator as James Maddison got to the by-line to cut the ball back.
Kelechi Iheanacho was his intended target but while the Nigerian swiped and miskicked, the low cross Barnes buried it from six yards.
Lampard spoke about the need for a show of the kind of mental strength that carried his side through 11 days earlier in the 1-0 win over Manchester United.
But his team looked anything but focussed on the fight to stay in the Prem.
For losing that early goal was bad enough.
How Richarilson then missed a 17th-minute opportunity to equalise was simply woeful.
Anthony Gordon produced some dazzling footwork to make space for a cross from the left.
Harvey Barnes tucked into the bottom corner as the ball fell kindly to himCredit: Reuters
He found Richarlison unmarked ten yards out yet the Brazilian possessed anything but the right stuff as he sent his right-footer wide of the left-hand post.
The home crowd, already anxious and agitated, and hardly offering the total support that Lampard said they have shown him since he replaced Rafa Benitez, howled in disbelief.
How he – and Lampard – may regret his failure at the end of that tightrope.
At that early stage of the game, Leicester were enjoying 76 per cent possession and having allowed what should have been little more than a simple pass into the net by Richarilson they took back control again.
Their focus, of course, is on next week’s Europa Conference League semi-final first leg with Roma.
Indeed the line–up deployed by Rodgers last night is likely to be the one he would want to select against Jose Mourinho’s side.
The Foxes winger had James Maddison and Kelechi Iheanacho to thankCredit: AP
It contained seven changes from the team that lost 2-1 against Newcastle and those coming back in included the backline that featured in the win over PSV Eindhoven that set up that last-four clash.
The Northern Irishman has insisted that after a season disrupted by a succession of injuries he is already building on creating a rhythm and blueprint for the next campaign.
That following all that disruption his team is slowly coming back to its best.
Certainly those at Goodison had the look of a team that is rediscovering itself.
So desperate did Lampard become that having left Dele Alli on the bench for the four previous games, he stuck him on in place of Allan with over half an hour left.
But having played only 169 minutes in six appearances since arriving from Tottenham along with Donny van de Beek on transfer deadline day, the playmaker once hailed as a potential England great struggled to make an impact.
At least 68 minutes into the game Richarlison did, finally, get a shot on target for his side although Schmeichel saved comfortably.
The Brazilian then squandered another glorious chance, glancing a free header wide on 83 minutes from six yards out.
But in those closing seconds, Richarlison made up for what had gone before with that crucial strike that trickled into the net.
Richarlison somehow missed the target with the goal gapingCredit: Reuters
He then headed wide with seven minutes left on the clockCredit: Getty
Frank Lampard and Brendan Rodgers locked horns at GoodisonCredit: Getty