Demarai Gray’s superb injury-time strike earned Everton a first win in nine games to end a bruising week with a stunning comeback against Arsenal.

After a week in which the hosts were thumped by Liverpool and director of football Marcel Brands left the club, Rafael Benitez’s team responded with a much-improved display that showed the character and resilience fans were looking for.

Richarlison had brought Everton level with 11 minutes of normal time remaining after Martin Odegaard scored the game’s opener from Kieran Tierney’s cross in first-half stoppage time.

That the winner came after Richarlison had also had two goals ruled out for offside by the video assistant referee before getting the equaliser will only have added to the home fans’ delight. 

The scenes at the final whistle were a complete turnaround from last Wednesday, when the mood turned ugly after a 4-1 defeat by their city rivals.

Victory lifts Everton to 12th in the table, eight points above the relegation zone.

Post match conference

Everton boss Rafa Benitez, speaking to BBC Sport: “Today is what I have been saying from the beginning – fans, players, all together, we are stronger. You could see today the spirit, even with the VAR decisions going against us. The reaction of the team was good and the fans behind us. The reaction was perfect. We showed character and people were delighted at the end.

“It is important for everyone to have the belief that performing like today we can win against any team. It is just about showing this character in every game. This is what we are expecting and hopefully it will be like this until the end of the season.”

On Demarai Gray: “I was asking him because he had a knock and we didn’t know if he could carry on. But he said ‘yeah, yeah I can carry on’.

On Yerry Mina: “He has had a bad time with injury and he is coming back after one month. Today was in the hamstring. He is really down now but hoepfully he can recover quickly. We will have to assess him.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, speaking to BBC Sport: “Disappointed to lose at the end the way we have done. But to be honest in the first half we were very inconsistent with the ball. We didn’t have enough penetration or threat. One of the few times we have done it we scored the goal. They struggled to create anything apart from the set-piece that was disallowed. But we had to be much better in the second half. When they started to get it and were more aggressive with the press we had bigger spaces to attack them and had chances to exert more control. We had big chances to score with Eddie hitting the post and Martin twice and Auba one on one but we didn’t score. When that happens and you manage the game like we did with the throw-in for the goal you don’t get points in this league.

“They were there for the taking and when that happens you have to grab it and kill it. We didn’t do that today.

“They are young but we have to learn quickly. Against Manchester United we had a similar thing and deserved much more but didn’t get the points.

“Away from home you cannot give anything to the opponent. They are string enough. We had opportunities to score goals and when we didn’t it was not good enough. The performance in general was not good enough.”

On Emile Smith Rowe’s absence: “He was with pain and could not train or travel. We will see how he is.”

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