Andros Townsend’s extra-time rant saved Everton’s shame as Rafael Benitez saw his side falter in the FA Cup fourth round with a 3-2 win over Hull.
The Spaniard has never been the most popular figure at Goodison Park thanks to his strong ties to Liverpool.
His last game as Reds coach was at Hull, and there were times on Saturday evening when it looked like City could once again prove the end of the road for Benitez, but Townsend came to the rescue in overtime as Everton clinched a 3.2 win.
The lively equalizer began in a dream fashion for the hosts as Tyler Smith scored his first City goal within 45 seconds against potential new owner Akon Ilicali.
The Turkish businessman was attending his first game before taking over at MKM Stadium, with Everton finally starting midway through the first half.
DeMarie Gray netted the net after a brilliant two-legged match with Anthony Gordon before Andre Gomez netted a Gongjoi Kenny cross, with Everton continuing to push after the break.
But substitute Ryan Longman’s exceptional curling level from 20 yards took the match into overtime, when Townsend fired a 30-yard missile to advance.
Asmir Begovic’s brilliant pause prevented Tom Ives from pushing the match into penalties one night when the Grant McCann Championship made life difficult from the start.
Everton, who gave new boy Vitaly Mikolenko his debut, started and quickly gave a free kick, which George Hahnemann fired for Smith for a header.
The visitors’ defense was poor and they continued to struggle, as Begovic had to turn away a superb Eves header in the fifth minute.
Smith peeked into the face of the goal from the resulting corner as the guests scrambled, with Ives stinging Begovic’s palms while angry Everton expressed their feelings.
There was a banner asking Benitez to leave and cheers of a similar kind, before the visitors leveled out in the 21st minute.
Gray followed a nice, elegant footwork with a quick one-two with Gordon, who played him in the hole to pass Nathan Baxter.
The provider nearly became top scorer as Gordon parried the ball and hit it from under the post, before forcing Gray Baxter to intervene from distance.
Everton saw Jacob Graves’ penalty shootout requests ignored as Hull was answered again, with Michael Keane stopping the kick before their pressure came into play in the 31st minute.
Kenny sent a cross from the right where he met Gomez with a gathered head that was too much for Baxter to deal with.
Hull failed in his attempts to equalize before the break, and it looks like Everton will most likely score in the second half.
Greaves put up an important challenge on Salomon Rondon and banished goalkeeper Baxter Gordon, before he blocked Gray as Everton pushed for the third goal.
Hal had created quite a few valuables by contrast, but McCann used his seat wisely.
All three substitutes came on as veteran Tom Huddleston grabbed the ball, Georges Monkur sprinted along the edge of the penalty area and left Longman to curve a fine goal past Begovic.
It was such a wonderful moment that Ken Lewis Potter tried to add to it. He blew out the bar and hit it during a period in which Gray wrinkled painfully at the other end.
The FA’s penalty could be heading Hull’s way given the number of items thrown at Everton players during the second half that ended the level.
An additional 30 minutes followed and Townsend’s stunning strike decided things in the 99th minute. The former England international subtly provided a place before firing a 30-yard effort past Baxter.
It was a powerful punch that Hull managed to run impressively, with Begovic coming to the rescue in the second half of injury time.
A corner kick found its way to Ives, whose shot was blocked by a powerful one-handed save before substitute Josh Hinds hoisted the ball away.
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Sunday January 16 11:30 AM
Hull Stoke hosts City at 12pm on Sunday 16th January, live on Sky Sports Football. Everton host Leicester in the Premier League on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports. The match starts at 8 pm.
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Tuesday January 11 7:30 p.m.
What is the date of the draw for the fourth round of the FA Cup?
The FA Cup fourth round draw will take place at approximately 4.50pm on Sunday 9 January following West Ham’s clash with Leeds at the London Stadium.