The Everton center-back Jarrad Branthwaite marked his first Premier League appearance since July 2020 with the equalizer from an Anthony Gordon free-kick at Stamford Bridge after Mason Mount had given the hosts the lead.
Everton was particularly depleted upfront, with Richarlison, Andros Townsend, Salomon Rondon, and Demarai Gray joining their injury list as under-fire boss Benitez’s woes continued to mount.
Traveling fans also unfurled a banner that read ‘Benitez get out of our club’ before kick-off but were toasting the Spaniard after a hard-fought albeit fortuitous draw for a side missing as many as 11 senior players due to injury and illness.
And when asked if this was the most important result of his time at Goodison Park, the Spaniard replied: ‘You can say that, because we have so many issues, with injuries, with illness.
‘The way the team played, reacted when we conceded, showed character. It’s a great point, not just the point but the way we claimed it. Everyone realized how important and how difficult it was afterward.’
The Toffees have still won just one of their last 11 Premier League matches, but Benitez praised the impact of the spirit within his squad and bemoaned their horrendous luck with injuries.
The Game Plan Is Always There And It Depends On The Players
‘The players, fans altogether, the spirit of the Blues, as they say, the issues with senior players not available, so we needed spirit, commitment, and intensity against a good team. I am really pleased and it is a good point.
‘We were practicing the set-pieces and Jarrad Branthwaite did well. Jonjoe Kenny was working so hard and everyone was giving everything. We suffered a bit more today so against a good team, we did what we had to do.
‘Every single player on the pitch was 100 percent making a contribution for the game plan. In the end, everyone was delighted. When players are not playing, the rest of the team is happy for them too.
‘Great character was shown; we are coming back in a lot of games. The way they worked we deserved something. We have had too much bad luck with injuries. The reaction of the team was fantastic.’