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Like Phil Neville was for tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo, Ben Godfrey was lucky to avoid punishment but that, that drive plus character and quality of Everton’s forwards may have kickstarted their season

Unlike their recent run of lifeless performances, Everton produced something that all their fans can get behind as they came back to beat Arsenal at a rocking Goodison Park.

Second-half goals from Richarlison and Demarai Gray sealed the 2-1 win for Rafael Benitez’s men on a night they showed incredible character, desire and that little extra quality that had been lacking in recent weeks.

This was much more like it from Everton

This was much more like it from Everton

They started at a very high tempo and while they didn’t create too many opportunities in the first half, there was plenty that got the home faithful off their seats – so much so that a very small amount of fans actually partook in the planned walkout in protest at the board in the 27th minute.

Ben Godfrey’s ninth-minute crunching tackle on Takehiro Tomiyasu was celebrated like a goal. A firm but ultimately fair one from the defender, playing at left-back on the night, but he crossed the line later on.

Bukayo Saka was left in a heap following a robust collision with Godfrey, who later had his heart in his mouth when another incident with Tomiyasu was reviewed by VAR.

Replays showed Godfrey standing on the the Japan international’s face, however, it was deemed an accidental contact and the Toffees man even managed to avoid a yellow. He was later booked early in the second half for another foul on Saka.

Godfrey may have been lucky to avoid a red card for this

Sky Sports

Godfrey may have been lucky to avoid a red card for this

The challenge left Tomiyasu with a noticeable scar on his face

Getty

The challenge left Tomiyasu with a noticeable scar on his face

Godfrey’s actions may have sparked memories of a Goodison Park clash in October 2008, when Phil Neville was perhaps fortunate to escape a red for a very firm tackle on Cristiano Ronaldo.

But it galvanised the home fans as Everton, who were 1-0 down and enduring a bad start to the 2008/09 season, battled to a draw against Manchester United – Neville’s tackle was later cited by fans as a turning point in the campaign which saw them finish a creditable fifth place.

The Godfrey incident didn’t have quite the galvanising effect Neville’s challenge did – Martin Odegaard volleyed Arsenal in front just not long after.

However, it showed a feistiness that Everton had lacked in their previous eight winless outings – even though the rules were bent and then some.

Neville going through Ronaldo outraged his former Man United teammates but the Everton fans loved it

Getty

Neville going through Ronaldo outraged his former Man United teammates but the Everton fans loved it

Similar energy from Godfrey on Tomiyasu early in the match

AFP

Similar energy from Godfrey on Tomiyasu early in the match

Not even two disallowed goals for Richarlison, both due to very marginal offside calls, was going to deter Everton in their relentless pursuit of a goal and eventually their resilience was rewarded when Richarlison headed in on the rebound after Gray’s curling effort cannoned off the crossbar.

And they got their win in the second minute of stoppage-time as Gray cracked the ball in-off the post to send Goodison Park wild.

Time will tell over whether this result can turn Everton’s season around but it would be a very good place to start the recovery.

This is what the win means to everyone associated with Everton

This is what the win means to everyone associated with Everton

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