Kurt Zouma praised Jordan Pickford for showing why “he is one of the best keepers in the world” after the Everton No.1 ensured the Blues took some reward from a frustrating 1-1 draw against Newcastle United at Goodison.
The Toffees’ four-match winning streak on home soil in the Premier League came to an end as Richarlison’s 38th-minute leveller was not enough following Salomon Rondon’s opener with 19 minutes on the clock.
Marco Silva’s men piled on the pressure for much of the contest, with Cenk Tosun going closest to a winner in first-half injury-time when he connected with Lucas Digne’s left-wing cross only for Toon keeper Martin Dubravka to somehow deny the Turkey striker from point-blank range.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to conjure up a deserved winner, Everton were left to thank Pickford for late heroics as he produced a fine low stop to deny Christian Atsu before blocking the former Blues loanee again moments later when he was put through clean on goal.
It was the perfect response from Pickford after his misfortune in Sunday’s cruel last-gasp Merseyside derby defeat at Anfield. And Zouma, recalled into the hosts’ central defence to partner Yerry Mina, was delighted to see the shot-stopper impressing once again.
“We know he’s different class,” the France international said of Pickford, who was given a rousing reception from Evertonians before kick-off. “Everyone can make mistakes but what he did today was show he is one of the best keepers in the world. He just needs to keep doing that and help us win games.”
Zouma admitted Everton were frustrated not to have found a winner but focused on the positives as a point took the Blues back up to sixth in the Premier League table.
“Everybody’s disappointed with the result,” added the on-loan Chelsea defender. “Obviously we couldn’t score a second goal. Their goal was the only chance they had in the first half. We tried to move the ball quickly but not how we wanted in the first half. The second half was a bit better so there are some positives to take.
“We are very disappointed with the result but it’s still a draw, still a point and we move on."