Gylfi Sigurdsson lived up to the task of replacing James Rodriguez against Tottenham Hotspur to emerge as Everton and Carlo Ancelotti’s FA Cup hero on Wednesday night.
The Toffees were without Rodriguez for the midweek affair as Ancelotti opted to rest the former Real Madrid maestro due to a tight calf, which he sustained in last Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Manchester United.
Sigurdsson had big shoes to fill with Rodriguez watching the action from home but more than stood up to the challenge, with the Iceland international playing the pass that created three of Everton’s five goals as they beat Tottenham to progress through to the Quarter Final.
The £16m-rated creator additionally fired home from the spot two minutes before half-time to register his fifth goal of the season across all competitions, to now boast an identical total goal contribution for the 2020/21 campaign as Rodriguez with seven each.
Wednesday night’s FA Cup tie heading into extra-time somewhat helped the 31-year-old to achieve his rare feat, yet Sigurdsson already boasted two assists before normal time expired.
He was not alone in creating chances, either, with the midfielder and Lucas Digne enjoying a joint team-high four key passes – only Tottenham dynamo Heung-Min Son (5) offered more, per WhoScored.
Yet Digne saw much more of the ball with 83 touches to Sigurdsson’s 56, only goalkeeper Robin Olsen (48) registered fewer among those who played more than 70 minutes for Ancelotti’s side.
Sigurdsson’s influential presence at the top of the pitch allowed the 78-cap international to make amends for his role in two of Tottenham’s four goals, as well, having twice failed to sufficiently guard Davinson Sanchez at set-pieces.
Sigurdsson only blinked for a second, yet it was enough to gift Sanchez a crucial yard of space in the six-yard box to head home Son’s corner and open the scoring in just the third minute.
He kept man-marking Sanchez but was punished for doing so when the 24-year-old again struck home early in the second period, with the former Swansea creator turning his back on the ball to shield the defender eventually allowing the Tottenham titan a simple tap in.