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Everton 2-1 Arsenal: Toffees complete thrilling second-half comeback

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richarlison-20211206-getty-ftr (Getty Images)

Everton found a much-needed spark for their floundering campaign with a dramatic 2-1 victory over visiting Arsenal on Monday.

The Toffees had taken just two points of the previous 20 on offer in the Premier League, and manager Rafa Benitez's seat was becoming hotter as the poor results continued to pile up. Monday's match was filled with drama and controversy as the VAR had an influence on several big moments, but ultimately it was just what the doctor ordered for Benitez's men.

Everton looked to have taken the lead moments prior to halftime, with Richarlison nodding home from a free kick in the 44th minute. However, the subsequent VAR check showed that the Toffees' Brazilian forward was well offside when the ball was struck, and thus the match remained scoreless.

The visitors didn't waste any time in taking advantage of their good luck, and Arsenal went ahead on a Martin Ødegaard strike in first-half stoppage time. The Gunners moved quickly into the Everton half of the field and Kieran Tierney sent in a cross from the left flank that met Ødegaard at the penalty spot for a nifty volley past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Undeterred, the Toffees searched for an equalizer upon returning from the halftime break, and came close once or twice in the early moments of the second half. Then, in the 58th minute, Everton executed a nice move that saw Abdoulaye Doucouré split the Arsenal defence with a through ball for Richarlison to run onto. The striker, one on one with Aaron Ramsdale, made no mistake in slotting it past the Gunners' goalkeeper.

It once again amounted to nothing as Richarlison would see another goal overturned by the VAR for offside. This one was particularly contentious as the 24-year-old appeared to be off by a hair, but the decision meant that Everton were still down by a goal with a half-hour left to play.

It took 20 more minutes of frustration at Goodison Park for the home side to finally find their breakthrough, and in the 80th minute Demarai Gray rung a long-distance shot off the crossbar before Richarlison leapt high to meet the rebound. With a flick of his head, the Brazilian finally got his goal on the third try, this one not needing VAR to confirm its validity.

The Gunners nearly broke Everton hearts just a couple of minutes after the equalizer, with Eddie Nketiah heading the ball off the post from point-blank range. That miss would come back to haunt the visitors, as the Toffees ultimately took the lead for good in stoppage time.

With the teams flying up and down the pitch in search of a winner, Gray received the ball well outside the Arsenal penalty area and unleashed an unstoppable strike that bounced off the far post in and into the net.

The result ends Everton's three-match league losing streak, boosting the club into 12th place.

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