Everton 4, Leicester City 2
Everton boss Ronald Koeman reiterated his desire to keep contract rebel Romelu Lukaku at Goodison Park and help the Toffees break into the Premier League’s top six after his side overpowered Leicester City.
Lukaku netted twice, taking his season’s tally for Everton to 24, as the Merseysiders fought back from 2-1 down. Precocious midfielder Tom Davies and Phil Jagielka were also on target for the hosts, while Islam Slimani and Marc Albrighton scored for Leicester.
Victory moved Everton level on points with sixth-placed Arsenal, although they trail on goal difference, while defending champions Leicester remain 11th, eight points clear of the drop zone.
Lukaku, whose contract expires in 2019, has refused to commit his future to Everton and last month turned down a new five-year contract, believed to be worth in the region of £140,000 a week.
“Romelu Lukaku is one of the best strikers in the world and I think the boy is improving in different aspects,” said Koeman. “In my opinion, he is the best finisher.
“Everybody knows he’s a key player for Everton and we will try to do everything to keep him but the final decision is always with the player. Everyone knows he has his own ambition but we will try our best.”
Teenager Davies gave Everton the lead after just 30 seconds with a composed left-footed finish following a surging run from Kevin Mirallas, although Leicester hit back to lead within 10 minutes.
The Foxes, much changed ahead of their Champions League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, replied through Slimani following a swift Leicester break and then Albrighton’s flighted free-kick from the corner of the penalty area.
Lukaku levelled with a bullet header from a whipped Ross Barkley cross, and Everton led by half-time as former Sheffield United centre-half Jagielka rose to power home Mirallas’s corner.
A set-piece would again prove Leicester’s downfall in the second period as another Mirallas corner fell to Lukaku, who blasted through a clutch of bodies. Only five players in Europe’s top four leagues have now scored more goals than Lukaku’s 23 league strikes this term.