Sheffield United: John Lundstram has the last laugh on return to Everton
Somewhere in Brussels, or possibly the North-West of England depending upon his work schedule, an international manager spent Saturday evening reflecting on a terrible mis-judgement.
Roberto Martinez, now head coach of Belgium and previously Everton's manager, was the person responsible for telling John Lundstram he did not possess the calibre to progress at Goodison Park. Four years later, after Marco Silva's predecessor effectively engineered his exit, the Sheffield United midfielder exacted revenge in the most devastating fashion.
Lundstram's pass, which presented Lys Mousset with the chance to seal a famous victory following Yerry Mina's own goal, exposed Martinez's error in glorious technicolour. Not only because of its execution - both the trajectory and weight were absolutely perfect - but also the intellect behind it. Surging forward on the counter, as the hosts pressed for an equaliser, Lundstram required little more than a second to identify the possibilities unfolding in front of him.
Typically, for a player whose game revolves around making others look good, he preferred to talk about Mousset and Chris Wilder in the mixed zone afterwards.
"I was just thankful Lys put it away to be fair," Lundstram insisted, revealing United's manager had also identified a weakness in Everton's game-plan moments earlier. "It was a great run from him. Fortunately I was able to get the ball around the centre-half and Lys did the rest from there."
"It's a great outball for us, a real release, and the gaffer pulled me beforehand to tell me about it," he added. "He told me 'Get Moose down the sides,' so that's what I did. If I was a defender, I wouldn't like to be facing him. He's just so powerful and, when he turns on the after-burners, he's an absolute beast."
Mousset's strike - officially his first since joining United earlier this summer - ensured Wilders's side finished the contest comfortably ahead of the point per game average which usually guarantees survival. But their success was built at the back where, as Everton dominated possession throughout the first-half, Jack O'Connell, Chris Basham and John Egan in particular produced defensive masterclasses. The same could not be said of Silva's team, whose frailty at set-pieces again cost them dear. Mina was powerless to prevent Oliver Norwood's corner ricocheting off his back just before the interval. But Jordan Pickford, the Everton goalkeeper, allowed himself to be distracted by Callum Robinson's presence as he came to collect.
"I had people coming out of the woodwork on Saturday morning texting me for tickets," Lundstram, who resurrected his career at Oxford before joining United, said. "I tried to do my best for everyone to try and get them in. I was raring to go and it was always the one I was looking forward to when the fixtures came out. I have finally got it over with and to get a win has just makes it really special."
Everton: Pickford, Keane, Richarlison, Delph, Sigurdsson, Digne, Mina, Schneirderlin (Iwobi 55), Bernard (Tosun 55), Coleman, Kean. Not used: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, Walcott, Davies.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Stevens, Baldock, Norwood (Jagielka 62), Fleck, Lundstram, McBurnie (Osborn 83), Robinson (Mousset 62). Not used: Moore, L Freeman, Morrison, K Freeman.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).