Rafa Benitez pinpoints exactly what earned depleted Everton heroic draw against Chelsea

The Toffees were missing a plethora of key players but dug deep to earn a point.

<p>Everton celebrate Jarrad Branthwaite’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images</p>

Everton celebrate Jarrad Branthwaite’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Rafa Benitez lauded the ‘spirit, intensity and commitment’ depleted Everton displayed to earn a heroic 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

The Toffees were down to the bare bones for their trip to Stamford Bridge. It was already known that Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne and Andros Townsend would be unavailable.

An unlikely point

When the team sheets emerged, there was no Demarai Gray, Fabian Delph or Salomon Rondon in the squad - while Seamus Coleman and Allan could only make the bench.

As a result, 20-year-old Ellis Simms was handed his debut, Jarrad Branthwaite, 19, started his first Premier League game of the season and fringe man Jonjoe Kenny was called into the team.

Everton defended doggedly throughout against the high-flying Chelsea. Despite falling behind through Mason Mount’s 70th-minute strike, the visitors were level just four minutes later when Branthwaite bagged a maiden goal for the club.

Hardly anyone gave the Blues a chance of salvaging a result at kick-off but the resolve shown delighted Benitez.

He told the club’s website: “The players and fans were all together, the team spirt, [showing] the Spirit of the Blues.

Everton boss Rafa Benitez. Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

“We had so many issues and problems with senior players not available.

“We needed spirit and intensity and commitment and had them all, against a good team.

“They had some good chances but, on the counter-attack, we had some chances. I am really pleased, because it is a great point and because of the way we won the point.

“We showed great character and have shown character in a lot games. We are coming back in a lot of games – which is good and bad.

“The way the players worked we deserved something because we have had so many issues with bad luck and injuries and other problems.

“The reaction of the team was fantastic.”

Branthwaite, who recently signed a new contract at Goodison Park, relished every moment of his equaliser against the reigning Champions League holders.

Jarrad Branthwaite nets Everton’s equaliser at Chelsea. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images

He said: “I’m buzzing. Playing for this club – like I said when I signed my contract recently – means the world to me.

“And for those fans, who travelled that far on a Thursday night to watch us, we put on a performance for them so I’m buzzing.

“I can’t put it into words, really. It was my first Premier League start for a while and I just wanted to enjoy it.

“Getting the result we did, coming away to a top team like Chelsea, I’m over the moon and happy for the fans as well.

“You can see what it means to our fans, and what it means to us, too, to get that result. It’s superb.

“It’s massive as we showed grit and strong mentality. Every player on the pitch gave 110 per cent and that’s what we need every game to get us to where we want to be.”