Nigeria international Alex Iwobi was on target for Everton as the Liverpool-based side beat Huddersfield 2-1 on Tuesday night at the John Smith Stadium to progress to the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Iwobi opened the scoring on the 25th minute, only for Tom Lees to level for Huddersfield at the stroke of half-time before Andros Townsend netted the winner 12 minutes from time to earn the Toffees a hard-fought victory, despite playing the last 30 minutes with 10-men following Moise Kean’s dismissal.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, new boss Rafael Benitez praised Iwobi for ‘‘working very hard for the team and being a threat” in the opening two Premier League games, especially his contribution on matchday 1, where he came off the bench to assist Abdoulaye Docoure in Everton’s 3-1 win over Southampton.
The 25-year-old creative midfielder, who played full 90 minutes, made impact every time he surged forward and one of such moves paid off five minutes before the half-hour mark. The former Arsenal striker benefitted from Tom Davies’ through pass to bury his right-footed effort into the back of the net for his first goal of the campaign.
Huddersfield spurned a great chance to level on 33 minutes after Daniel Sinani failed to convert a glaring opportunity, following a set-up by right wing-back Sorba Thomas. Everton goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic pushed out the Luxembourger’s initial left-footed shot, before he lifted his second effort over the bar.
The Championship side would finally draw level just before half-time, with a well executed set piece as Tom Lees jumped highest to thump in a firm header off Thomas Sorba’s inswinging corner.
Iwobi’s Everton dispelled several Huddersfield’s attacking moves in the second period coupled with decent saves by Begovic but the Benitez-tutored side were found wanting once again at set piece as Matthew Pearson headed in from a corner, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.
Everton were reduced to 10 men for the last half hour of the game after Moise Kean was shown a straight red card, following an off-the-ball reaction to a challenge from Sorba Thomas, which prompted manager Benitez, to adjust the formation to 4-4-1, with Alex Iwobi as the lone striker.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Everton controlled possession and made more attacking moves in the final quarter hour, which led to the winning goal by Andros Townsend on the 78th minute.
Iwobi started the move for the goal inside the box. After receiving a pass from Andre Gomes, he turned and fed the Portuguese, who delivered a low cross to Andros Townsend in the six-yard box and the former Crystal Palace forward raced to slam the ball into the roof of the net to put the Toffees back in front, with 12 minutes left to play.
Demarai Gray drew a late save from Nicholls, as the five-time FA Cup winners held on to the win.
Six other Nigerians were also involved in the Carabao Cup second round ties.
William Troost-Ekong and Oghenekaro Etebo played full 90 minutes, while Emmanuel Dennis came off the bench in the second half for Watford, as they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at home, courtesy of Ashley Fletcher’s solitary strike.
Frank Onyeka made a second-half appearance for Premier League newcomers Brentford, who cruised to a 3-1 home victory over League two side, Forest Green.
Daniel Udoh, 24, was introduced 20 minutes into the second period, but the striker could not change the fortune of the game, as his League One club, Shrewsbury Town lost 2-0 at home to a League Two club, Rochdale.
Forward Odysseus Alfa, 22, played the final 15 minutes for Queens Park Rangers and helped the Championship side secure a 2-0 home win against League One club, Oxford United.