Another crafty pass for Calvert-Lewin played in the striker behind Adam Webster but too tight to the dead-ball line to produce anything of note. There was a shot from Bernard, too, but only after the South American employed some dazzling footwork to befuddle two Brighton defenders. The ball alighted with Bernard about 20 yards out after Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick was half cleared. As defenders rushed to block, Bernard feinted and walloped a shot which thudded into towering centre-back Webster. Bernard again after 37 minutes, haring through the middle and sliding a pass right for Richarlison, whose low drive was fended off by Ryan. Duffy’s touch following a wicked right-wing Sigurdsson free-kick 60 seconds after Everton’s opening goal was just sufficient to distract Michael Keane, the defender not able to untangle his feet to shoot.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side had a number of chances to add to their lead – they had 14 shots to Brighton’s nine – but had to survive a flurry of nervy episodes late in the game. Everton, denied a fifth-minute penalty following a VAR review, came close again through Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. But they were indebted to Jordan Pickford for a terrific late stop from Glenn Murray to preserve their lead. Everton claimed the advantage their superiority merited seven minutes before half-time.
Richarlison continued his run into the penalty area after passing to Bernard and, via Lucas Digne’s low delivery, reclaimed possession 12 yards from goal. The Brazilian spun with one deft left-foot touch and scored with his right boot, planting a precise finish past Mat Ryan. Everton started the match at a fair lick and really thought they were due a penalty after five minutes when Theo Walcott appeared to be the victim of a tug from Lewis Dunk in the area. Calvert-Lewin injected impetus into the move with a smart flick on Djibril Sidibe’s pass to find Richarlison.
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His first-time ball found Walcott racing behind Dunk, who seemed to instinctively reach out, unbalancing the Everton player. Referee David Coote opted against pointing to the spot and a VAR review – which was a while coming after the ball refused to go out of play – backed up the man on the field. Chances for Brighton to escape their own half were in short supply, with striker Neal Maupay a lonely soul at times during a first half Everton dominated. Tom Davies spoke this week of wanting to dictate the tempo of matches and his energy and bite were valuable in the hosts’ midfield. Bernard, meanwhile, was supplying guile by the bucketload. His return pass for Richarlison was a mite too hard and enabled Ryan to smother.
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Everton vs Brighton & Hove Albion, Premier League
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Former Everton centre-half Duffy was jonnie-on-the-spot after 10 minutes, too, heading clear with Richarlison poised to meet a ball hung in by right-back Sidibe. Richarlison was frustrated again when Calvert-Lewin’s inswung cross from the left evaded him at the far post. Brighton as an attacking force in the opening 45 minutes? Alireza Jahanbakhsh was too high with a volley from Martin Montoya’s deft lay off. And that was your lot. Duffy clattered Calvert-Lewin in the box five minutes after the restart as Everton earned successive corners and tried to kill the contest. Only one goal in the red, though, Brighton had a puncher’s chance. Leandro Trossard took a swing on 53 minutes and smacked the top of the bar from 18 yards.
Centre-halves Mason Holgate and the recalled Michael Keane held a high line and more often than not tried to win possession high up the field. Certainly, Neal Maupay leading Brighton’s line spent more time with his back to goal than facing it. In possession – and Everton had most of the ball – the home side were forceful and never predictable. Jordan Pickford and Holgate both lifted passes over the top seeking out Calvert-Lewin. Bernard was more intricate, looking to thread teammates into dangerous areas.
That near miss came moments after Keane used his legs to repel a Maupay drive. Digne and Richarlison teamed up again soon after but the forward’s effort squirted wide off a defensive body. Ryan fielded Calvert-Lewin’s prod at goal after Bernard danced to the byline to centre – and before he could catch his breath Ryan was confronted by Calvert-Lewin once more. The forward resisted Dunk’s pull to race to the 18-yard line and thrash a shot which Ryan pushed out to his right. Brighton introduced a rush of attack-minded players and it always felt as if they remained in the game. One of those substitutes in Murray connected with a Trossard cross to draw a fine stop from Pickford with eight minutes remaining. Meantime, however, Everton had kept pushing for a second.
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Seven-Up Three points here makes it 14 from 21 – or two per game – from Everton’s past seven Premier League matches. Carlo Ancelotti has won three of four league games in charge, to boot, collecting the baton from Duncan Ferguson and running with it. Goodison Park is re-establishing its reputation as an Everton stronghold, too. This victory makes it four unbeaten at home in the top-flight. Everton have conceded only once in that period, too. A productive run has lifted Everton to 28 points and only four adrift of sixth spot. The Winner Everton confirmed their first-half superiority when Richarlison angled home his 10th goal of the season in all competitions – and eighth in the Premier League. The Brazilian’s finish was of the highest order and we’ll come to it shortly.
Calvert-Lewin used his hand to force the ball in after Keane hit the bar with a header – that from a corner earned when another Richarlison blast was diverted over. Hearts momentarily sunk all around Goodison, save for the pocket for away fans, with two-and-a-half minutes to play. Maupay forced through a pass for Murray, whose hook at goal on the stretch appeared for all the world destined to nestle inside Pickford’s left post. Mercifully, it dropped the other side of the woodwork and spared the home team.
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The former Barcelona player retained his cool, cutting the ball back for Richarlison, who was still separated from the goal by a pack of Brighton defenders. The 22-year-old dragged the ball back with the studs of his left boot, pirouetting to deceive his opponents and creating the opening to shoot. Undeterred by the ball being transferred to his unfavoured right boot, Richarlison calmly slotted across Mat Ryan and inside the keeper’s left post. Once erroneously accused of “ruining” the transfer market, Everton’s brilliant South American has 21 Premier League goals from 57 appearances in the competition for the Club. Fast Start Carlo Ancelotti wanted a reaction from Everton following last week’s Cup exit and in terms of energy and intensity from the outset he got it. Everton relentlessly went after their opponents, Tom Davies harrying and hassling in midfield, Gylfi Sigurdsson retreating to fill gaps and front pair Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin chasing and preventing Brighton passing from the back.
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