Sheffield United and Everton contested an entertaining Premier League draw as both sides picked up their first point of the campaign.
The two teams have had wretched starts, losing their opening three games this season, but they could not be separated at Bramall Lane, sharing four goals in an enjoyable lunchtime game.
Sheffield United had started the brighter but it was the visitors who took the lead through Abdoulaye Doucoure, poking in a rebound for Everton’s first league goal of the campaign.
United responded well with the dangerous Gustavo Hamer forcing Jordan Pickford into a sharp save and they got their reward as Cameron Archer side-footed in to finish off a slick team move.
It got even better for Paul Heckingbottom’s on the stroke of half-time as Archer’s arrowed effort hit the post before ricocheting off the unfortunate Pickford and into the net.
But Everton hit back after the break as on-loan Arnaut Danjuma converted from close range via Nathan Patterson’s cross to the back post to salvage a point for Sean Dyche’s men.
United were inches away from a dramatic winner in the 99th minute, but Oli McBurnie’s header was somehow pushed on to the crossbar by Pickford at full stretch, with the goalkeeper recovering to divert the follow-up on to the post.
Point apiece fair result
Expectations weren’t high before this game as United, who had the lowest average number of shots per game in the top flight this season, took on an Everton side that had failed to find the net in their opening three league games.
But both teams displayed fight and grit to grind out a result that helps them alleviate building pressure after a poor start to the campaign.
Midfielder Doucoure, whose winning goal against Bournemouth on the final day of last season saved Everton from relegation, got their first of this term by clipping home from close in after his initial effort was saved by Wes Foderingham. It ended his side’s run of 316 minutes without a Premier League goal.
United have been tipped as one of the favourites for relegation but signalled once again they won’t be pushovers by showing plenty of heart, as they did in defeat by champions Manchester City last Sunday.
The £18m man Archer was central to the play in the final third, caressing in a fine finish for his first goal since moving from Aston Villa, and it was his superb curler that hit the woodwork and went in off Pickford.
But they failed to hang on as Danjuma’s well-taken finish at the far post drew the visitors level, though they could have won it late in injury time when McBurnie’s was somehow denied by Pickford.
New signing Beto led the line with effectiveness for Everton, pressing the opposition defence and holding the ball up, but could not add a goal that his performance deserved.
The two sides return to action on 16 September after the international break, with United travelling to Tottenham and Everton hosting Arsenal.