Everton extended their winless run to eight matches after falling to a 4-1 defeat at Goodison Park at the hands of local rivals Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby.
The visitors were in scintillating form in this midweek clash, with captain Jordan Henderson opening the scoring after just nine minutes before Mohamed Salah bagged his 18th goal of the campaign with a wonderfully curled finish.
It seemed as if Jurgen Klopp’s imperious charges would be out of sight by the half-time interval, but the hosts worked their way back into the tie thanks to a well-taken Demarai Gray strike.
However, there was no stopping Liverpool in the second period. Salah ruthlessly capitalised on a Seamus Coleman mistake as Everton were growing in confidence and Diogo Jota made sure of the three points, adding some gloss to the scoreline along the way.
Coleman’s error killed the game as a contest, although in truth, Rafa Benitez’s struggling side never realistically looked like taking anything from the tie.
The Toffees were hampered by several poor performances from key individuals in what was a crucial fixture for both club and manager, with star midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure arguably the most underwhelming.
As per SofaScore, the box-to-box midfielder received a match rating of just 5.9 out of 10, the second-lowest total received by any player on the pitch.
Throughout the 90 minutes, Doucoure was bullied by his counterparts in the engine room, losing ten of his 11 duels, achieving a passing accuracy of just 65% and being dribbled past on three occasions.
He also gave away possession 12 times, failed to make a single tackle and had only 32 touches, nine fewer than goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, highlighting his hugely ineffective display.
And the Liverpool ECHO reporter Adam Jones was equally as unimpressed with Doucoure’s showing against the Reds.
“Similarly to his midfield partner, the Frenchman couldn’t get close to his Liverpool counterparts for the majority of the game. His attacking influence was not as effective as Everton needed it to be,” Jones wrote after awarding him a 3 out of 10.
Doucoure has been a standout performer for Everton this season, and the under-fire Benitez would have been hoping for a big performance from the 6-foot maestro.
That was far from the case, though, and the former France U21 international’s dismal display may have been the final nail in the coffin for the Spanish tactician at Everton.