Sean Dyche says Jordan Pickford answered his critics with a crucial double save in Everton’s 2-2 draw at Sheffield United.
Pickford recovered from scoring an unfortunate own goal earlier in the game to ensure his side left Bramall Lane with a point, miraculously denying Oli McBurnie twice at the death.
He tipped a header onto the underside of the crossbar and then recovered to turn the follow-up effort onto the post as Everton got their league season up and running after three successive defeats.
Pickford and his team-mates have come under the spotlight following their winless start to the season, but Dyche believes the England goalkeeper proved himself.
“Like everyone, he had some question marks recently because the team were conceding big moments,” Dyche said.
“Every player should be questioned because that’s the world we live in. Every top player gets questioned, that is part and parcel of being a top professional. It should be a stimulus if anything.
“But it shows again what a top keeper he is, I thought his all-round performance was very good.
“He was very unlucky with their second, quite obviously, and made two fantastic saves, when it is really important to do so. If that goes against you everyone is scratching their heads, but he made sure it doesn’t happen.
“The madness of football, we could have ended up losing it; Jordan makes those saves at the end and you think ‘how mad is football?’ – it would have been an injustice if it went against us but it didn’t.”
Abdoulaye Doucoure scored Everton’s first Premier League goal of the season as they went ahead early, but Cameron Archer’s first strike for the Blades levelled things up.
Archer was involved again soon after as his shot hit the post and rebounded off Pickford’s back and into the net as the Blades took a half-time lead, only for Arnaut Danjuma to level after the break.
Pickford then came up with his heroics and Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom knows his side need those moments to go in their favour this season.
“It’s an unreal save, the second one he doesn’t know too much, it hits his head and the post, but it’s a big moment,” Heckingbottom, who also saw his side earn their first point of the season, said.
“It’s another example of why we love the game and how fine the margins are.
“We are not stupid, we know that we are going to need a lot of those moments to go in our favour this season, of course we are. Today it didn’t.
“But I can’t grumble, I think it was a really good game and probably a fair result.”