REPORT: Everton 2-0 Chelsea
Everton picked up their first win against a top six side since January 2017 at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon, as a vitalised second half performance & goals courtesy of Richarlison & Gylfi Sigurdsson led Marco Silva to his most significant win as Everton manager.
The first half however, was an entirely different tale. Chelsea came out the gates strongly, buoyed by their progression to the quarter finals of the Europa League just a few days earlier. Everton on the other hand, looked to be still licking their wounds from the defeat at St. James’ Park last time out. Whilst trying to replicate the resilient game plan that served them well in the reverse 0-0 at Stamford Bridge back in November, Everton’s defensive unit struggled to contain Chelsea’s flair, Eden Hazard in particular who would have put Chelsea 2-0 up themselves had it not been for Jordan Pickford & the goalpost of the Gwladys Street net. Everton regathered themselves after weathering the initial Chelsea storm & kept Chelsea’s sights on goal limited with the exception of Gonzalo Higuain’s effort which escaped the grasp of Pickford, but was cleared in the goal mouth from Micheal Keane.
Everton’s chances in the first 45 minutes were pale in comparison to their South London visitors, the most noise the Evertonians in attendance coming from whenever the returning academy product Ross Barkley touched the ball. Whether it was the half-time guests winning the “on the volley” challenge or sudden emergence of heavy showers- a familiar, special atmosphere gripped Goodison Park by the time of the restart. Those in royal blue responded on the pitch, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, in yet another valiant performance against tough opposition flashed a ball across the six-yard box just out of reach of the ensuing Bernard.
The home side looked to be taking the game to Chelsea, as an increased spell of pressure resulted in Sigurdsson corner finding the head of Calvert-Lewin. Forcing a reactionary save from Kepa, the ball fell to the mercy of Richarlison who nodded in his 12 league goal of the season in front of an elated Gwladys Street end. The Brazilian, who completed more sprints, tackles & won the ball more than any other Everton player so far this year, was in the thick of things as his side doubled their advantage.
Advancing down the right hand side, the Brazilian was tripped inside the box by the dangling leg of Marcus Alonso, who struggled to put the brakes on Richarlison throughout. Step up Gylfi Sigurdsson, who despite missing his third spot kick this season, converted the rebound, levelling himself with Richarlison 12 league goals & counting.
Theo Walcott off the bench nearly celebrated making in 3-0 in the last 15 minutes but couldn’t bend the ball beyond the keeper. A remaining flurry of Chelsea attacks were well handled by the defensive diligence of Idrissa Gueye & Andre Gomes in particular, as Everton picked up their first win against a top 6 team in their last 25 attempts & are now four points off seventh place Wolverhampton Wanderers with seven games left to play.
Shots on target: 8-5