Ellis Simms scored a last-gasp equalizer as struggling Everton jump-started their fight for Premier League survival with a dramatic 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Saturday.
Sean Dyche’s side were within minutes of a damaging defeat until Simms scored his first goal for the club to stun Stamford Bridge into silence.
Everton’s challenge display came after they lost twice in west London.
Joao Félix had put Chelsea ahead early in the second half with his second goal since joining Atlético Madrid on loan in January.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s equalizer was followed by Kai Havertz’s third goal in his last three appearances as the German converted a penalty in the closing stages.
Simms had a loan spell at Championship Sunderland earlier this season, but the 22-year-old proved he could be Everton’s savior in the relegation battle with his crucial leveller.
Everton are now two points above the relegation zone after extending their unbeaten run to three games.
Chelsea had to swallow a bitter pill as Graham Potter’s side squandered an opportunity to claim a fourth successive win in all competitions.
The match was marred by homophobic chants from Everton fans, who could be heard chanting “Chelsea rent boy”.
In January it was announced that the English Football Association could prosecute clubs if their fans sang the offending song.
The UK Crown Prosecution Service defined the term as a hate crime last year.
That was one ugly side of a memorable game that began with Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic firing a deflected volley from the edge of the box.
Chelsea were monopolizing possession, but Jordan Pickford kept Everton level with a brave save as the goalkeeper dove to block at Felix’s feet.
A constant threat with his quick feet and clever movement, Felix forced Pickford to save his effort from 18 yards out.
Hampered all season by a lack of leading edge, Chelsea had scored more than once in just two games in all competitions in 2023.
– Sting in the story –
Scoring three times at Leicester in their previous game had given Potter encouragement that he had solved Chelsea’s attacking problems.
There was certainly more vitality at Chelsea and Félix rewarded his territorial dominance in the 52nd minute.
When Ben Chilwell’s cross deflected to Félix just inside the Everton box, the Portugal star seized his opportunity with a low shot past Pickford and into the net from the far post.
Félix’s first goal in seven games was nearly followed by Everton’s equalizer moments later when Michael Keane headed Demarai Gray’s free-kick wide.
It was a warning Chelsea did not heed when Everton equalized on 69 minutes.
Evoking a goal straight from the Dyche playbook, Everton struck from Dwight McNeil’s corner as Ben Godfrey fired and Doucoure headed in from close range before Havertz could clear the line.
Chelsea took the lead again seven minutes later when Reece James’s run was halted by a stumble from Godfrey and an equally clumsy challenge from James Tarkowski in the box.
Havertz scored a crucial penalty in the Champions League round of 16 win against Borussia Dortmund recently and coldly sent Pickford the wrong way from the penalty spot for his ninth goal this season.
But there was a sting to the story in the 89th minute when Doucoure spotted Simms’s breakthrough in the Chelsea box.
The striker shrugged off a feeble challenge from Kalidou Koulibaly and hit a low shot that slipped under Kepa Arrizabalaga to save a point in dizzying fashion.