Liverpool (AFP) – Ashley Williams’s 86th-minute header saw Everton return to form in spectacular fashion as they hit back to dent Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes in a 2-1 victory on Tuesday.
Wales defender Williams rose unmarked to head home Ross Barkley’s corner in a major disappointment for the visitors, who had taken the lead through Alexis Sanchez’s 12th Premier League goal of the season.
After Seamus Coleman’s headed equaliser, tempers flared at half-time when players from both sides had to be separated as they exchanged angry words and pushes on their way down the Goodison Park tunnel.
In a frantic finale, Everton defender Phil Jagielka was sent off for a second bookable offence and, with goalkeeper Petr Cech attacking in the home area, Arsenal saw two shots heroically cleared off the line.
Arsenal would have taken over from Chelsea on goals scored if they had won, but they remain second, while Ronald Koeman’s Everton climb to seventh after only their second win in 11 league outings.
Everton made a poor start to the contest and fell behind after 20 minutes when a catalogue of errors involving Williams gifted Sanchez the opening goal.
After Barkley lost the ball on the edge of his own area, Williams accidentally injured team-mate Idrissa Gueye with a lunging tackle that forced Jagielka to trip Francis Coquelin inches outside the box.
Sanchez took the set-piece, a powerful shot that deflected wickedly off Williams’s left calf and wrong-footed goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who could only help the ball into his own goal.
But a minute before the interval Everton were rewarded for their response when Coleman headed home the equaliser.
Fellow full-back Leighton Baines swung over a deep cross from the left wing and Coleman, inexplicably unmarked six yards from goal, glanced a superb header past Cech for his third goal of the season.
– Ozil off target –
Arsenal, aiming for a 15th unbeaten league outing, which would have represented manager Arsene Wenger’s best run since 2011, had looked content to hit their hosts on the break during a strong opening.
After just six minutes, an overlapping sprint by Nacho Monreal saw the full-back pull the ball into the Everton area, but fractionally behind Mesut Ozil, who could only sky his shot high over the goal.
But after falling behind, Everton showed resilience, with Aaron Lennon, starting just his third game of the season, particularly threatening.