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Premier League: Everton’s great escapes

We look at the history of Everton’s great escapes as they aim to seal survival at home to Bournemouth on the final day of the Premier League season.

We’re all set for another gripping relegation showdown this weekend, where two from Everton, Leicester City and Leeds United will fall through to the trapdoor to the Championship.

The Toffees know that a win against Bournemouth will be enough to keep them up regardless of what happens in other games.

But should they slip up, a Leicester victory at home to a West Ham side with one eye on their Europa Conference League final, or a Leeds win at home to an out-of-form Tottenham could see Everton slip into the second tier.

For Everton, who are 3/1 to be relegated, it is an all too familiar feeling. However, they have faced similar situations before and they have managed to get over the line…

1994 comeback against Wimbledon

Everton headed into the final day of the 1993/94 season in the relegation zone following a dismal run of one win from 10 Premier League games.

Mike Walker’s men were a point behind Southampton, Sheffield United and Ipswich, and they faced a Wimbledon side who were sixth in the table and had enjoyed a fine season.

They got off to the worst possible start as a Dean Holdsworth penalty and a Gary Ablett own goal put the Crazy Gang 2-0 up at Goodison Park after just 20 minutes.

Everton had a penalty of their own just four minutes later, however, and Graham Stuart tucked it away to reduce the deficit.

The news from elsewhere was encouraging with their relegation rivals all on course to drop points, meaning that an Everton victory would almost certainly keep them up.

The favourable scores filtered through to the home fans, and they really started to believe in the 67th minute when Barry Horne levelled matters with an unstoppable long-range effort.

Everton searched for a winner and they were duly rewarded nine minutes from time when Stuart grabbed his second of the afternoon.

The 3-2 victory, coupled with Sheffield United’s defeat by the same scoreline at Chelsea, was enough to keep Everton up and relegate the Blades.

Everton survive again in 1998

Fast forward four years and Everton were once again deep in the mire.

Club legend Howard Kendall had returned to the club for a third spell in charge, but turmoil off the pitch and a struggling team on the pitch meant that relegation was on the cards again.

Similar to 1994, Everton started the final day in the relegation zone one point from safety, but this time it was Bolton Wanderers they were looking to overtake.

Everton hosted Coventry City knowing they had to better the Trotters’ result at Chelsea.

This time, however, it was a much better start from Everton as Gareth Farrelly lashed a half-volley in from 25 yards to give his side to lead.

At Stamford Bridge, Bolton were giving a great account themselves against a Chelsea side laden with international talent.

But with Everton still leading and Bolton needing a goal, they began to chase the game and Gianluca Vialli put Chelsea ahead in the 73rd minute.

Everton had the chance to seal their survival five minutes from time when they were awarded a penalty, but Magnus Hedman saved from Nick Barmby. The pressure then intensified as Coventry levelled in the 89th minute, with Dion Dublin’s header somehow squirming past Thomas Myhre in the Everton goal.

A Bolton equaliser would be enough to relegate Everton, and even the Chelsea fans were willing the away side on.

As Bolton mounted attack after attack, Chelsea countered and scored a second through Jody Morris to relegate Bolton, with Everton once again escaping the drop on the final day.

Crystal Palace turnaround avoids final day drama

This one doesn’t include heroics on the final day, but for a long time it looked a distinct possibility that Everton would go the distance again.

Everton had Frank Lampard in charge following a dismal end to the reign of Rafael Benitez, but despite an up-turn in form, Everton were deep in relegation trouble ahead of their penultimate game of the season.

Lampard himself described the home game with Crystal Palace as ‘now or never’, perhaps not feeling confident of getting anything at Arsenal on the final day.

The nervousness had also been increased by the result the previous week, where Everton blew a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 at home to Brentford.

Memories of 1994 came flooding back as Everton once again found themselves 2-0 down at a stunned Goodison Park. 

Spurred on by a raucous home crowd, goals from Michael Keane, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin completed the turnaround and ensured Premier League survival.

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