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Ellis Simms hailed “a massive point” for Everton after the striker’s first Premier League goal earned a 2-2 draw at Chelsea, his late heroics earning praise from Sean Dyche.
The substitute struck in the 89th minute at Stamford Bridge, brushing off Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly before beating Kepa Arrizabalaga at his near post.
It was a moment neither the defender nor goalkeeper would want to look at again, but it will live long in the memory for Simms, an Oldham-born youngster who has shown his goalscoring potential in loans with Hearts, Blackpool and Sunderland.
Now he has a goal at the top level of English football, and the point pushes Everton two points clear of the relegation zone.
Everton have now had 13 different goalscorers in the Premier League this season, with only Arsenal, Chelsea and Leeds United (14 each) having more.
They have not won in the league at Chelsea since 1994, a barren run of 28 games (D13 L15), but Everton were the side with the most to celebrate on this occasion.
Simms said the equaliser was “100 per cent” the biggest moment of his career.
“It’s a great occasion to do it,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m delighted for the team as well – a massive point against tough opposition, so we’re delighted, we’re made up.
“I’ve been working hard at Everton to come up with this, and it’s a dream to come true to get my first Premier League goal.
“It’s about patience. I’ve had to wait for my chance. Obviously we’ve got top players, so I’m not just going to walk straight into the team I just have to work hard in training and when I get the opportunity I have to take it, grab it with both hands.”
Simms said there was “massive belief” in the ranks, and manager Dyche spoke glowingly of the 22-year-old, who has started just one league game so far for the Toffees this term, surprisingly being given the nod for February’s derby with Liverpool.
“He’s a young lad earning his spurs,” Dyche said. “We threw him in against Liverpool, it was probably a bit too much on that night, but he’s still around the group, he’s working hard, he’s realising the hard yards are important in the sides I work with, and he’s maturing into it.
“He has scored goals, albeit in the Championship, and he’s delivered with his pace and his power to break free and then gets a nice finish under the body of the keeper.”
Chelsea head coach Graham Potter said his team’s general play had been “a step forward”, even after recent wins against Leeds United, Borussia Dortmund and Leicester City.
Their defending left plenty to be desired, though, so Joao Felix’s low strike and Kai Havertz’s penalty were only good enough for a point, leaving Chelsea 10th in the table, with Abdoulaye Doucoure cancelling out the first of the hosts’ goals before Simms had his late say.
“I thought the performance overall was positive,” Potter said. “We did a lot of things really well, scored a couple of goals, but ultimately didn’t defend well enough in a couple of actions which has cost us, and we’re disappointed to drop points.”
Asked about the late concession, Potter said: “It looked too easy throughout the team, so I was disappointed from my perspective with the second goal, and the first as well.
“It was a positive performance from us overall, but it’s hard to say that when you’ve only got one point.”