Under-pressure Everton boss Ronald Koeman is clinging to the hope that his side’s last-gasp leveller against Brighton offers the prospect of escape from the deepening gloom which is enveloping Goodison Park.
The Toffees were slipping towards a sixth defeat in nine matches across all competitions following Anthony Knockaert’s late strike, only for former England captain Wayne Rooney to snatch a point from the penalty spot in injury time.
But a draw did little to alleviate the scrutiny of Koeman following an outlay of £140m during the summer and a start to the season which has brought just two wins in eight league matches.
Everton currently occupy 16th place in the Premier League, two places and three points above the relegation zone, while the situation will deteriorate further should Leicester beat West Brom this evening.
“My whole football life is pressure. If I don’t get pressure from outside, I put pressure on myself,” said Koeman. “Let’s hope that the point today gives the boys a little bit more calmness and confidence.
“After 1-0 we showed character and finally maybe had to win the game in the last few seconds. We are in a difficult situation but it’s one thing to come out of this and show fight like we did. In football, maybe it’s only one point but it’s a different picture.
“They showed commitment. If there is no commitment by one player it is my job to bring in other players, but they work so hard every day to get it right and it’s difficult. It’s not easy, the Premier League.”
Brighton manager Chris Hughton, who saw a potentially priceless three points ripped from his grasp, appeared to echo those sentiments. Brighton are 14th with eight points from as many matches.
Because of the timing it feels more like a defeat,” said Hughton. “I thought we were good value. Incredibly disappointed in the manner we conceded. We were up against a very good Everton team, but at that stage I couldn’t see them scoring.”
The Seagulls opened the scoring and appeared set for their third consecutive top-flight home win in the 82nd minute when winger Knockaert slotted home after Jose Izquierdo’s shot had been blocked by Michael Keane.
But there was still time for salvation for the visitors as Rooney converted a penalty in the dying embers of the clash after Brighton defender Bruno had been penalised for elbowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin.