Arnaut Danjuma and Beto rescue Everton after Doncaster threaten upset | Carabao Cup

new balance


Late goals from debutant Beto and Arnaut Danjuma spared Everton’s blushes as they avoided an almighty upset at the hands of the EFL’s bottom side, Doncaster Rovers, to record their first win of the new season and progress to the third round of the Carabao Cup.

Sean Dyche’s side were outplayed by a Doncaster side without a win to their name in League Two for most of the evening, deservedly falling behind to a Joe Ironside header on the stroke of half-time. However, they scrambled their way into the next round as Beto marked his debut from the bench with a goal heading into the final 20 minutes, before Danjuma struck with two minutes to go to deny Doncaster a famous victory.

Dyche resisted the temptation to make wholesale alterations to his team. In the end, he made just four changes, with Vitalii Mykolenko and Michael Keane among those to come into what resembled a strong Everton starting lineup. New signing Beto made his first appearance in a matchday squad.

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The striker will have likely watched on in horror as the visitors nearly gifted Doncaster the best possible start. Within seconds of kick-off, what seemed a routine ball back to Jordan Pickford was clumsily controlled by the England goalkeeper, and had Ironside found a Rovers teammate with the loose ball, Everton could have been behind inside the opening minute.

The visitors began to assume control of possession after that shaky start but it was short-lived, with Everton falling apart whenever they approached the Doncaster box. And it was the League Two side who had the better of the chances inside the opening half-hour, with a solid argument they could have even been ahead.

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First, Zain Westbrooke’s clever corner was cut back for Tommy Rowe, who narrowly shot over Pickford’s crossbar, before Westbrooke had Pickford worried with a driven effort from distance that just beat the outside of a post. “Premier League, you’re having a laugh,” came the cry from the home supporters as they began to sense an upset was on the cards.

The fact Everton did not even have a touch inside Doncaster’s penalty area in the opening 30 minutes underlined what a dreadful start they made. And while Danjuma finally crafted a shot for the visitors as he fired wide, the goal Doncaster’s performance merited arrived just before half-time.

Rovers had been superb, and after another smart set piece freed Rowe on the edge of the area, his clever chipped ball found the head of Ironside, who glanced past Pickford to send the home support wild. Ironside appeared just offside but it was a goal the League Two side thoroughly merited and had Pickford not saved from Rowe in the final seconds of the half, Everton could have been two behind.

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Joe Ironside heads the ball past Jordan Pickford to give Doncaster the lead
Joe Ironside heads the ball past Jordan Pickford to give Doncaster the lead. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/Shutterstock

Dyche, like the travelling support who booed their team off at half-time, had seen enough. He made three changes at the break, with Ashley Young, Idrissa Gueye and Beto coming on and while the trio made a marginal difference, it was barely more than that, and Doncaster continued to press with greater purpose at the other end. Mo Faal was next to come close, but his strike was blocked by Mykolenko in the box.

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The hour mark came and went, and Everton continued to labour in attack. Doncaster looked comfortable and when an aimless long ball was overhit for Danjuma, it provoked another strong response from the travelling support, who again showered their side with boos as they continued to look bereft of ideas.

The nature of Everton’s performance was summed up by the fact that the closest they came to a goal in the opening 70 minutes was when a Doncaster defender, Joseph Olowu, sliced over his own bar in a rare moment that had Ian Lawlor worried in the Rovers goal. It was, in truth, beginning to resemble a nightmare evening for Dyche and his side.

However the one bright spark was Beto as the game entered the final stages and he marked his debut with Everton’s first goal of the season. The forward was set free by a superb ball from Abdoulaye Doucouré, and he had the composure to finish past Lawlor and bring it level. It was a goal Everton’s performance scarcely merited, but they were now level.

Suddenly, the momentum was with the visitors. Beto struck the post with a well-timed header before Danjuma clipped the crossbar a minute later. With Doncaster now clinging on, they were undone a rare smart passage of play led to Danjuma finishing well to ensure Everton went through.

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