Everton gave their Premier League survival hopes a huge boost on Sunday with a hard-fought victory over an underwhelming Chelsea side at Goodison Park, with Richarlison netting the winner following an error by Cesar Azpilicueta.
The home side’s high pressing and aggression made for a frenzied first half, with tempers threatening to boil over on more than one occasion – although chances were few and far between.
Anthony Gordon had the opportunity to open the scoring in the first minute after being brought down by Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the edge of the box, but he whipped his free kick over the crossbar.
While Everton’s tactics were disruptive, Chelsea still dominated the ball and had their first shot in anger when Mason Mount bent and effort narrowly over from range. In a rare opening at the other end, Gordon pulled a low shot wide of Edouard Mendy’s near post on the run.
The game exploded into life two minutes into the second period. Richarlison pressed last man Azpilicueta high and forced the Spaniard into an error, charging down his pass and running onto Demarai Gray’s prod to slot it low beyond Mendy.
The Toffees should have doubled their lead immediately, but Vitaliy Mykolenko sent his finish high and wide after being slipped in by Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Jordan Pickford emerged as Everton’s match-winner at the other end just before the hour mark. After Mason Mount’s volley had come off the inside of his post, the England international scrambled across his line to somehow claw away Azpilicueta’s rebound. Then, from the resulting corner, Antonio Rudiger was denied by the goalkeeper’s face when he seemed destined to score at the back post.
Richarlison almost doubled up minutes later when his effort from an incredibly tight angle forced Mendy into an awkward save. Pickford was then at it again at the other end, tipping Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s vicious drive over the bar.
There was glut of near misses in a frantic ending to the game. Gray flashed a fierce effort a whisker over the bar when he perhaps should have scored, before Hakim Ziyech and Gordon had decent strikes pushed away at either end.
Pickford’s final act was another fine save in the second of seven minutes of injury time. Marcos Alonso slipped in substitute Mateo Kovacic who gave the keeper the eyes and tried to guide a low finish inside the near post, but England’s number one got down brilliantly.
Everton remain in the bottom three with the result but remain in touching distance of safety with a game in hand.
Richarlison forced Azpilicueta’s error / Michael Regan/GettyImages
GK: Jordan Pickford – 8/10 – Brilliant distribution and a made five match-winning second-half saves, including an incredible stop to deny Azpilicueta.
RB: Seamus Coleman – 6/10 – Very solid and aggressive, toeing the line expertly.
CB: Yerry Mina – 7/10 – Took a laughable dive early on. Seemed to gain the mental edge in his duel with Kai Havertz. Some dubious behaviour but defended staunchly.
CB: Mason Holgate – 6/10 – Bit into plenty of challenges in the opening exchanges, but often a little over-committed. Somewhat overshadowed by his centre-back partner.
LB: Vitaliy Mykolenko – 5/10 – Industrious but really should have made the game safe when he missed a glaring chance.
DM: Fabian Delph – 5/10 – Dove in a few times and made himself look a bit silly. Could have been booked twice in the first half alone.
DM: Abdoulaye Doucoure – 6/10 – Really tenacious, giving his opposite numbers no time to settle. Deserved an assist.
RM: Alex Iwobi – 6/10 – Carried the ball nicely at times. Made a few clumsy late fouls that could have been costly. Battled well.
AM: Anthony Gordon – 5/10 – Posed Everton’s main attacking threat initially, going fairly close twice. Faded as the game went on but offered an outlet.
LM: Demarai Gray – 6/10 – Huffed and puffed on the fringes of the match but picked up a simple assist after Azpilicueta’s mistake. Ran very hard.
ST: Richarlison – 7/10 – Always a willing runner. Excellent pressing forced Azpilicueta’s error and rewarded with a simple finish. Unfortunate to pick up an injury.
SUB: Allan (71′ for Delph) – 5/10 – Matched the aggression that was already on display.
SUB: Salomon Rondon (80′ for Richarlison) – N/A
SUB: Dele Alli (93′ for Gray) – N/A
Mina and Havertz battle / Jan Kruger/GettyImages
GK: Edouard Mendy – 5/10 – Exposed by Azpilicueta’s mistake for the goal. A couple of routine saves elsewhere.
CB: Cesar Azpilicueta – 2/10 – Almost lost his head at one point. Horrible error which led directly to the goal as his pass was blocked. Hooked not long after.
CB: Thiago Silva – 5/10 – Smooth passing and made a huge block in the first half. Lost the degree of control he had after the break.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – 5/10 – Booked early for unnecessarily bodying Seamus Coleman. Had to be careful as a result but made some important interventions.
RWB: Reece James – 5/10 – Not able to have his usual attacking influence, which is credit to Everton’s defending really.
CM: Jorginho – 4/10 – Struggled with Everton’s intensity although did his best to battle, just lacked the pace and strength. Hooked at half-time as a result.
CM: Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6/10 – Gave away what could have been a costly foul in the first minute. A couple of trademark runs invigorated Chelsea. Excellent strike tipped away.
LWB: Marcos Alonso – 5/10 – Supported the attack at every opportunity but had a similar experience to his opposite wing-back.
RF: Mason Mount – 6/10 – Often the out ball. Wonderful piece of ball-juggling to get Chelsea up the pitch. Booked for a clash with pantomime villain Yerry Mina. Excellent volley but hit the post.
LF: Timo Werner – 3/10 – Ineffectual in truth. His spell of good form is well and truly over.
ST: Kai Havertz – 4/10 – Got into a running battle with Mina and bordered on losing his head. Booked when he eventually did lose his head late on.
SUB: Mateo Kovacic (46′ for Jorginho) – 5/10 – A sub that seemed to make sense but didn’t really have the desired effect. Late effort well saved.
SUB: Christian Pulisic ( 68′ for Werner) – 4/10 – Did nothing of note.
SUB: Hakim Ziyech (68′ for Azpilicueta) – 6/10 – Added some zest and saw a good effort saved by that man Pickford.
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