Oumar Niasse provides the spark in Everton's comeback win over Watford
Everton overcame a two-goal deficit to edge out Watford 3-2 and earn their first win in nine matches. This dramatic victory ended a five-game losing streak and handed caretaker manager David Unsworth his first win on his fourth attempt.
The health and well-being of supporters notwithstanding, Everton needs more performances like this one where they salvaged three points from 102 nerve-shredding, and occasionally indescribable, minutes of football.
It was not pretty -- in truth, parts of this match were downright awful -- and the home side rode their luck when former player Tom Cleverley fired a late penalty way off target. This improbable victory seemed like Everton finally displayed some backbone and it's some resolve upon which to build. This should be a turning point.
With his team staring at a sixth successive defeat and fourth consecutive home loss, the match swung on an Oumar Niasse intervention. The striker chased a pass he had no right to reach, forced a mistake, and bundled home the first Everton goal. While some players seem unwilling to put the effort in and battle through this difficult period, Niasse's approach is a breath of fresh air.
One simple show of determination swayed a home crowd on the brink of revolt and set this unlikely comeback in motion. With the team battling and fighting for everything, and the crowd behind them, Goodison Park transformed.
Unsworth had talked at length on how his Everton side would represent a significant departure from the insipid football former manager Ronald Koeman oversaw this season, but much of the first hour saw the return of those same issues.
A starting XI featuring Wayne Rooney on one wing and Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Davies alternating on the other went a long way toward gift-wrapping a two-goal lead for the visitors. Only with the substitutions and the Niasse goal did Everton awaken. Whoever occupies the dugout after the international break has to learn from this.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Unsworth righted the wrongs of his starting XI by acting quickly and each of the substitutes had a telling impact.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Jordan Pickford, 5 -- Too quick from his line on more than one occasion, which perhaps points to a lack of faith in the creaking defence in front of him.
DF Jonjoe Kenny, 7 -- Quiet in the early stages before improving considerably as Everton stirred, the young right-back has been ever-present with Unsworth at the helm and won a game-high six tackles.
DF Michael Keane, 6 -- Back in the starting XI after injury, the England centre-back proved competent for the most part. The one slight on his afternoon was a weak challenge in the buildup to the first Watford goal.
DF Phil Jagielka, 4 -- Another troubling performance saw the club captain at fault for the second Watford goal and outmuscled and outpaced by a mobile visiting attack on too many occasions.
DF Leighton Baines, 7 -- An assist and the match-winning penalty cancelled out a poor miss earlier in the match. Baines showed nerves of steel en route, ironically, to overtaking Unsworth as the most successful Everton penalty taker, netting his 24th spot kick for the club.
MF Beni Baningime, 5 -- An undoubted positive from this Unsworth tenure, but after 90 minutes against Lyon on Thursday, the 19-year-old midfielder tired quickly and found it difficult to make an impression.
MF Idrissa Gueye, 6 -- Left holding the fort for the first 60 minutes as the shapeless midfield caved in around him. As a result, this was not his most effective performance, but the midfielder never disappoints with his play.
MF Gylfi Sigurdsson, 5 -- Suffered once more out of position, spending too much time in wide areas. An eagerness to impress perhaps accounted for missed chance with the score at 0-1.
MF Tom Davies, 5 -- Another of those pushed around the midfield with limited results, particularly in a first half that mostly bypassed him, Davies did improve later on.
MF Wayne Rooney, 4 -- Though a frustrated figure when substituted, Rooney could have few complaints. This was a performance lacking in many areas, clumsy in possession and a passenger without the ball.
FW Oumar Niasse, 8 -- Niasse is unconventional and ungainly, but there is no such thing as a lost cause in his mind. His persistence ignited this revival and his unorthodox qualities gave Watford fits throughout.
MF Ademola Lookman, 7 -- Instantly changed the game with his pace, ability to beat players, and the general threat he provides in the final third.
FW Dominic Calvert-Lewin, 7 -- Scored a fine header to bring Everton level and offered a useful target alongside Niasse.
MF Aaron Lennon, NR -- The winger won the penalty during an impressive cameo.
Luke is ESPN FC's Everton blogger. Follow Luke on Twitter @lukeofarrell.