Bedlam. The only word to describe the scenes here as, three minutes into stoppage time, Murray Wallace sent a low shot into the back of Everton‘s net, sealing a shock victory for Millwall and one that will be spoken about in these parts for some time to come.

Twice the hosts were behind and twice they came back through a display brimming with togetherness and defiance. They appeared to have earned a draw against esteemed opponents and that in itself would have been cause for celebration in this corner of south London, but then, with time practically at an end, came the winner.

Shaun Williams sent a free-kick into Everton‘s area, Shaun Hutchinson headed the ball down and there was Wallace to raise the volume of a crowd that was in great voice throughout.

Millwall are into the fifth round for the second time in three seasons, while for Everton this was a thoroughly miserable evening in what is an increasingly miserable season.

As reported last week, Millwall are close to reaching an agreement with Lewisham Council over their long-term future at the Den after fears they could be forced out by a compulsory purchase order.

Great news for everyone associated with the club and something which no doubt helped fuel a fervent atmosphere that Marco Silva admitted prior to kick-off would test the character and quality of his players.

The initial signs were not positive. Having been greeted by a wall of noise, the visitors quickly found themselves being harried by a Millwall side missing eight players through either injury or being cup-tied. The hosts were clearly not in the mood to feel sorry for themselves.

Twice in the opening 13 minutes, Shane Ferguson, whose two goals sealed victory over Hull in the third round, tested Everton‘s vulnerability at set-pieces with right-sided free-kicks.

The first was headed wide by Jake Cooper while the second was headed across the area by Millwall‘s other centre-back, and captain, Hutchinson. It could have well led to a goal had Lucas Digne not been on hand to clear the ball from underneath his crossbar.

Everton were rattled as the rain lashed down. Their attacks were sporadic and largely from the right-hand side where Séamus Coleman was able to fire in a few decent crosses.

He picked out Richarlison with one on 10 minutes only for the Brazilian, having been moved from centre-forward to left-wing by Silva, to miss the ball completely.

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The Brazilian made amends a couple of minutes before the interval. Collecting the ball from André Gomes, he hit a powerful drive that took a deflection off Hutchinson before squirming underneath Jordan Archer. It was Everton‘s first shot on target and a moment to forget for the Millwall goalkeeper.

Archer breathed a sigh of relief in first-half stoppage time, however, when Lee Gregory equalised with a looping header following Jake Cooper‘s flick on from another Ferguson free-kick. It was the least the hosts deserved.

The goal was also the 11th Everton have conceded from set-pieces this season and that may, in part, explain why Silva brought on Kurt Zouma in place of Yerry Mina.

The visitors had their recognised centre-backs – Zouma and Michael Keane – back together again and that offered a platform from which they were able to dominate the opening stages of the second half.

In an ever-intensifying downpour the men in white were now dominating possession as well as territory, forcing Millwall back and earning a couple of corners in quick succession. Neither, however, led to anything.

Silva made a second substitution on 65 minutes, bringing on Cenk Tosun for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

That suggested a more direct approach and a couple of minutes later Digne delivered a cross with the intention of picking out the striker. But the delivery was overhit.

The Turkey international was found by Gylfi Sigurdsson on 72 minutes, however, and sent a curling left-footed shot past Archer to restore Everton‘s lead and score only his third goal of the season.

The 2,000-plus away supporters located behind the goal erupted with joy, only to be brought back down to earth three minutes later when Millwall again equalised, and again from a set-piece.

Another right-sided free-kick caused panic inside Everton‘s area, with the ball eventually being turned in by Cooper. Everton‘s players protested to the referee Michael Oliver, presumably on the belief that the Millwall defender had used his arm, but after checking with his nearside assistant, the goal was given.


Sunday Indo Sport


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