In-form Gray strikes as Everton hit back to beat Burnley

Wednesday, September 15, 2021


LONDON, England (CMC) — Reggae Boyz target Demarai Gray, who now has a new lease on life back in England following a disappointing short stint in Germany, was praised by Manager Rafael Benitez after he scored in Everton's 3-1 comeback victory over Burnley on Monday night.

Everton, who trailed to a 53rd-minute goal by Ben Mee at Goodison Park, stunned the visitors with three strikes in the space of six minutes that moved them level on points with the top three — Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool — on 10 points after an unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign.

Andros Townsend, a free transfer arrival in the summer, set up the equaliser on 60 minutes for Michael Keane whose header cancelled out Mee's header on his 200th appearance for the Clarets.

Five minutes later, the Everton winger scored himself with a brilliant, curling 25-yard finish into the top corner.

Then a minute later, Abdoulaye Doucoure's delightful through ball found 25-year-old, Birmingham-born Gray who steered past Nick Pope for his third goal of the season.

In March, Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts included Gray in a list of English players with Jamaican heritage who he suggested “were in the process of acquiring their Jamaican passport” in a bid to improve the Caribbean nation's chances of qualifying for next year's World Cup.

A number of them, including Scottish champions Rangers' Kemar Roofe and West Ham United's Michail Antonio, took up the offer to play for Jamaica, and although Gray has yet to make the move he remains firmly on the Reggae Boyz radar.

Townsend, 30, who is of paternal Jamaican and maternal Greek Cypriot descent, and Gray — a pair described afterwards as “quality” by Benitez — have been revelations since signing for the Toffees for a grand total of 1.7 million (US$2.3 million), the fee paid for Gray, this summer.

Their constant running has injected pace and versatility into the team and, on a day when Everton were missing the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a 3-4-3 formation seemed to be misfiring, the pair showed why they are fast becoming fan favourites.

Gray, a winger who won the Premier League with Leicester City in 2016, completed his transfer from German outfit Bayer Leverkusen to Everton in July on a three-year deal with the option for a fourth year.

Gray left Leicester in January and signed an 18-month deal with Bayer Leverkusen; but he made only 12 appearances for the Bundesliga side last season, scoring one goal. Six months later he headed back to the UK.