Cenk Tosun was Carlo Ancelotti’s only saving grace as Everton muddled through to beat Rotherham United in the FA Cup third round on Saturday afternoon.
An extra-time hit from Abdoulaye Doucoure proved enough for the Toffees to edge past Paul Warne’s Championship strugglers, after seeing Matthew Olosunde strike out Tosun’s first goal of the season.
Olosunde tore Everton to shreds during his time on the field and would have delighted the hosts when his number was shown on the board at the start of second-half stoppage-time, having very much deserved his goal.
Tosun had opened the scoring in the early stages of the third round affair when found perfectly by Anthony Gordon, breaking free between the Rotherham centre-halves and chipping home over Jamal Blackman.
A moment of quality with half-time approaching saw Tosun come close to adding a second to his account, but the in-demand Turkey international could only poke wide.
He would put the ball in the back of Blackman’s net again come the second-half after meeting James Rodriguez’s free-kick for the would-be winner, yet would not be given the goal after a VAR review adjudged the £60,000-per-week hitman to have been marginally offside.
Tosun did not let the incident affect his confidence as he kept pushing for a second goal despite often being without much service, though should have done better late in extra time when he favoured an extra touch over shooting and let the chance go to waste.
Everton’s overall performance was shambolic at times, capitalised by the Liverpool Echo’s Adam Jones voicing on Twitter that goalkeeper Robin Olsen had been Ancelotti’s best player during regular time.
But it was Tosun who proved to be Ancelotti’s only saving grace, by turning in an influential performance when it mattered despite being starved of service as the sole centre-forward.
Tosun ended the day having played close to three times the number of minutes he had featured for over his previous six outings combined, to score only his 11th career Everton goal and first since November 2019.
He registered 43 touches, as well, while winning half of his eight ground duels, contested six aerial contests, was fouled three times and spread play frequently with four long balls.
Ancelotti will have hoped to see Tosun fare better in some regards having been caught offside twice and being dribbled past once, but there were plenty of positives to take from his efforts in what was his first start of the season so far.
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