Everton vs AFC Bournemouth Match Review
Former outcast Oumar Niasse was transformed into the comeback king with his first two Premier League goals for Everton as they came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1.
Twelve months ago the Senegal international was without a squad number, banished from the first-team dressing room and playing for the under-23s after manager Ronald Koeman decided on the basis of a 45-minute pre-season friendly appearance he was not up to the task.
But with Everton’s failure to sign an adequate for Romelu Lukaku in the summer Koeman was forced to eat humble pie and recall the striker, a £13.5million signing by Roberto Martinez in February 2016.
After scoring in the midweek Carabao Cup win over Sunderland, Niasse came off the bench on Saturday to score twice in the final 13 minutes and turn around a game heading the visitors’ way after Josh King’s goal early in the second half.
It capped a remarkable about turn in the fortunes of the 27-year-old, who last season was told to find a new club and trained with the u23s without complaint before going to Hull on loan where he scored five times in 19 appearances.
A deadline-day move to Crystal Palace collapsed in the final hour in August as Koeman realised he could not sign the striker he wanted and Niasse’s rehabilitation began – although even the Dutchman could not have envisaged how quick an impact his previously unwanted striker would make.
With Everton labouring to respond to King’s first league goal of the season, created by a burst of pace which the Toffees are so lacking, after 49 minutes of tedium Koeman made a double change with Niasse and Tom Davies replacing Wayne Rooney and Davy Klaassen.
Their effect was almost instantaneous with Niasse starting and finishing the move from Davies’ through-ball to equalise in the 77th minute.
The roar from Goodison suggests the striker is already something of a cult hero and it got even louder when he bundled home a deflected cross eight minutes from the end.
In doing so Niasse eased the growing pressure on Koeman, whose team ended a run of four successive league defeats to climb out of the bottom three.
The great irony was that he was saved by the man he could not sell and not any of the £150million of talent the Dutchman bought in the summer.
Up until Niasse’s brilliant cameo the main talking point had been whether Simon Francis had elbowed Rooney in a first-half aerial collision.
Replays suggested the Bournemouth centre-back had caught the former England captain with a flat arm but Rooney was not happy about the challenge, which left him with blood running into his left eye and required two bouts of treatment and a change of shorts and socks.
Jermain Defoe should have doubled the visitors’ lead before Everton got back in the game but goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved with his foot, and after Mason Holgate’s effort was cleared inches off the line by Andrew Surman the stage was clear for Niasse.