11th March 2021
80 minutes gone. Marcus held his head in his hands as Fabian Delph went into the referee’s notebook for a foul. Well. That was it. Out of European football. The owners should be happy, he’d achieved what the board’s target was, a Second Knockout Round appearance. Still, he couldn’t be happy about this.
The knockout stages had started well enough. A 2-1 win at home against Borussia Monchengladbach was followed by a battling backs-to-the-wall away performance in Germany with first, Fabian Delph of all people, breaking through to roll the ball past the keeper on 37 minutes then Tom Davies sealing the deal with a stunning volley on 76 minutes, a moment that the fans will cherish for a long while.
Winning 4-1 on aggregate was a good result. Only to see us paired with Tottenham Hotspur in the next round. Marcus remembered thinking that they needed a good performance at home to get through this. And, to their credit, they battered Spurs from pillar to post the whole game. They hit the woodwork three times, had a header cleared off the line, even saw a Spurs player see red for a second yellow. But they could not score. Spurs, on the other hand, took the lead on 44 minutes with a crashing volley from fully 30 yards out following a corner, then sealed the game on a breakaway 1-on-1, where Pickford got hold of the ball, but his efforts only slowed the ball down so it crept agonisingly slowly over the line on 81 minutes.
The 0-2 first leg lead was an absolute back-breaker and, Marcus reflected as he saw Matthew Pennington booked for a foul out of pure frustration, lead to this situation here. They’d set up defensively and had gone in at half-time 2-1 up, thanks to goals from Sander Berge and Richarlison… But they’d conceded twice within the first 10 mins of the restart and it had all gone to hell from there, despite Erling Haaland claiming his 30th goal of the season. The final whistle blew on this 3-5 defeat and Marcus rose out of his seat, shook the Spurs manager’s hand and walked down the tunnel. Everton had crashed out 7-3 on aggregate and there was much to work on…