WAYNE ROONEY earned Ronald Koeman a stay of execution with an 89th-minute penalty equaliser.
The former England skipper, restored to the starting line-up after being axed for the 1-0 home defeat by Burnley calmly sent Seagulls keeper Matt Ryan the wrong way to avoid a fifth defeat in six League matches for boss Koeman.
Seagulls fans had serenaded the Dutchman with cries of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ after winger Anthony Knockaert drilled home the opener in the 83rd minute.
But when Brighton skipper Bruno nudged over Dominic Calvert-Lewin as Brighton defended a free-kick, Rooney stepped up to score from the spot.
For an Everton side desperately short of pace and punch up front it was only a seventh goal in 13 League matches – while they have also enduring a miserable start to their Europa League campaign.
This match was switched to a Sunday lunchtime kick-off to entertain an estimated 200,000 crowd at a fan park in Bangalore – who would all have enjoyed a good night’s sleep after this.
Idrissa Gueye did force an athletic save from Brighton keeper Matt Ryan midway through the first half.
And Dominic Calvert-Lewin sent a free header meekly over from a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick.
But shortly before half-time, Michael Keane appeared to handle as he blocked a Lewis Dunk shot – with ref Michael Oliver waving away protests.
Mason Holgate forced another save from Ryan but Brighton were again appealing for a penalty when Leighton Baines shoved Pascal Gross.
Then Knockaert struck after a Jose Izquierdo shot had been blocked, only for Rooney to level and Ryan to make a brilliant double save during a goalmouth scramble in injury-time.
INTERACTIVE STATS – CLICK on the categories to find out how the teams fared
INTERACTIVE LINE-UPS– CLICK on a player’s number below to see their stats
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Everton have only lost once in their last 20 games against newly-promoted sides in the Premier League.
- Brighton have beaten the Toffees just once in their last nine league games – their last win came back in February 1982.
- Ronald Koeman’s men have only found the back of the net on just seven occasions out of their last 13 top-flight matches.
- In 23 away games in charge of Everton, Koeman has won just four times.
- Five out of Brighton’s six goals in the Premier League have come in the second period.
- Everton have only scored five goals all season in the top-flight, Brighton have scored six.
- Wayne Rooney has netted three of them for the Toffees.
- Chris Hughton’ side are unbeaten in all four matches at the AMEX Stadium this season.
- They have won twice in the Premier League, drawn once and have won once in the Carabao Cup.
- Anthony Knockaert netted his first goal in the top-flight.
WHAT THEY SAID
Brighton goalscorer Anthony Knockaert told Sky Sports: “We gave them a goal, basically. We should have done better to keep the result and keep the three points.
“We knew it was important to keep patient and the goal would come. We did brilliantly until the end, when we conceded the penalty.”
Seagulls boss Chris Hughton said: “Incredibly disappointed at this moment, because of the timing it feels more like a defeat.
“I thought we were good value. Incredibly disappointed in the manner we conceded. We were up against a very good Everton team, but at that stage I couldn’t see them scoring.
“I’ve got no problems with the penalty, Bruno has tried to impede him and the referee was very close and penalised him. When we are in a situation like that, I do hope it evens itself out.”
Everton manager Ronald Koeman said: “At least we got one point, I think a point well deserved. We were the better team, most of the time we had good ball possession – maybe we had to create a bit more.
“After 1-0 we showed character and finally maybe had to win the game in the last few seconds.
“We are in a difficult situation but it’s one thing to come out of this and show fight like we did today.”