Hull City 2-3 Everton: Andros Townsend’s extra-time winner eases pressure on boss Rafael Benitez

Andros Townsend hit the winner on his first appearance since 12 December after four weeks out with a foot fracture

Andros Townsend struck a superb extra-time winner as Everton saw off dogged Hull in the FA Cup to ease the pressure on under-fire boss Rafael Benitez.

The Toffees suffered a nightmare start as Hull’s Tyler Smith headed in George Honeyman’s free-kick inside 45 seconds.

But Demarai Gray steered Everton level and Andre Gomes nodded them ahead.

Ryan Longman curled in a brilliant equaliser for the Tigers but Townsend’s fierce 25-yarder deceived Hull keeper Nathan Baxter to put Everton through.

Hull, who hit the woodwork through Keane Lewis-Potter at 2-2 in normal time, came close to forcing penalties but Toffees keeper Asmir Begovic made a stunning save to deny Tom Eaves.

Victory was welcome cup cheer for Everton, who have exited the competition at the third-round stage in three of the previous five campaigns.

Boost for Benitez – but it’s far from convincing

When Everton fell behind less than a minute in and some travelling Toffees supporters joined in with the underdogs’ time-honoured “you’re getting sacked in the morning” chant, things appeared bleak for Benitez.

Coming in to the game on a run of just one win in 12 Premier League matches that has seen the Toffees slip to 15th after a decent start to his reign, the former Liverpool boss is still struggling for acceptance from the Goodison faithful.

His cause was not helped by Smith heading home his first Hull goal since a summer move from Sheffield United as Everton began poorly and were fortunate not to fall further adrift.

Begovic was twice called on to thwart tall striker Eaves, the first from a powerful header and the second a shot from a tight angle, and the visitors looked all at sea at set-pieces.

But then Anthony Gordon and Gray wove their magic, a classy exchange of passes in the Hull area culminating in the former Leicester man calmly tucking beneath Baxter.

Gordon has been one of Benitez’s bright sparks recently and he was at the centre of everything good Everton produced in the first half, clipping the outside of the post after a mazy run and setting Michael Keane clear for a shot superbly tipped…

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