This was the epitome of a game of two halves with Chelsea much the better side in the first half but unable to make the breakthrough, before Everton tore into them in the second with goals from Richarlison and a penalty rebound for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Everton went into Sunday’s clash against Chelsea needing the three points to take them to the perceived survival status of 40 and a one position move up the table ahead of Bournemouth.
Having blown a two-nil lead last time out at St.James’s Park, Marco Silva‘s team couldn’t afford to be so generous again defensively against a Chelsea who whilst not hitting the heights expected of them, possess some formidable attacking weaponry.
Silva noted in his pre-match comments, “They are really strong in that front line, and in the middle zone too. But they are here playing at Goodison, if you have achieved a good result against them away, maybe with confidence we can achieve better at home.”
Looking to improve a poor recent run of four losses in our last six home games, Silva named his starting line-up: Pickford, Digne, Mina, Keane, Coleman (c), Gana Gueye, Gomes, Richarlison, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Calvert-Lewin.
Having qualified for the last eight of the Europa League by thrashing Dinamo Kiev, Chelsea arrived at Goodison in good heart and with Azpilicueta, Hazard and Luiz set to return after being rested in midweek.
The latest resident of the Chelsea managerial hot seat, Maurizio Sarri, was gracious in his press gathering when he remarked, “In my opinion, Everton, outside the top six are the best team in the Premier League in terms of technical quality. So we have to play a very important match and a very difficult game.”
Sarri took his time reviewing his myriad of options before naming his starting eleven: Arrizabalaga (Kepa), Azpilicueta (c), Rudiger, Luiz, Alonso, Kante, Jorginho, Barkley, Pedro, Hazard and Higuain.
Our referee on a blustery afternoon was Anthony Taylor.
There were boos for Ross Barkley from the moment his name was announced and they largely continued throughout a first half largely dominated by the visitors.
As early as the fifth minute, Alonson instantly controlled a long ball from Rudiger to then play in Hazard for a low shot that Pickford saved and Mina put away for a corner.
Barley a minute later and Barkley and Higuain combined to feed Hazard who jinked inside and fired a low shot that beat Pickford but it came back off the post where Keane was on hand to clear.
Gana Gueye was hurt when Luiz clumsily fell on top of him, but he was okay to continue after treatment.
Everton had their first meaningful attack on the quarter hour as Digne intercepted a ball in midfield to find DCL who controlled, turned and took two paces before sending in a rising shot that didn’t trouble Kepa.
Barkley showed quick feet in the Everton area but made a hash of his cross to jeers from the home fans, but the Chelsea pressure was maintained as Kante found Higuain and he set up Jorginho for a shot that Pickford saved.
The Blues best effort of the first half came on 25 minutes when a header from Keane found Coleman and his pass inside found Gomes for a strong shot that Kepa dealt with.
Pedro shot wide after good inter passing between himself, Hazard and Alonso before Azpilicueta found Hazard, he found Barkley and his pass yo Higuain saw his shot go just over the bar.
Chelsea were quicker and stronger in every department but they drew the first yellow card as Alonso was booked for a pull back on Richarlison, and from the free kick, Sigurdsson found the head of DCL but he couldn’t keep the ball down and it flew over the bar.
A could by Richarlison on Hazard just outside the Everton area saw Barkley chance his arm, but his free kick hit the wall to more jeers but Chelsea again kept the pressure on with Kante finding Pedro for a mazy run and shot that went wide.
Scoreless at the break, but massive room for improvement needed by Everton if they were going to cause Chelsea serious problems.
Half Time: 0-0
Obviously we have no real idea what Marco Silva said during the break, but Everton came out for the second half like men possessed.
Richarlison and Sigurdsson set up DCL on the right and his run saw him cross just too strongly for Bernard to get on the end of. Sigurdsson again found DCL and more good work saw him find Gomes for a wall pass with Bernard before forcing Kepa into a sprawling save at the expense of a corner.
Everton forced a second corner with Coleman pressuring Luiz and when Kepa could only palm out a powerful header from DCL, Richarlison reacted quickly to bury the loose ball into the net on 48 minutes.
Barkley found Pedro in space on the right and his long cross saw Alonso hit a volley into the side netting. A good pass from Bernard released Digne but his low cross was just too strong for DCL to get on the end of.
Gomes was booked for a foul on Pedro ahead of Higuain testing Pickford from distance with a powerful shot and then Rudiger saw yellow for a foul on Bernard.
Chelsea made a double change on 65 minutes, Giroud replacing Higuain and much to the delight of the home fans, Loftus-Cheek replacing Barkley.
Into the final twenty minutes and Everton won a penalty as Alonso brought down Richarlison and while Kepa saved the poor initial spot kick from Sigurdsson, the Icelander was quick to finish on the rebound to double the Blues lead.
Hudson-Odoi replaced Jorginho as Sarri made his final change ahead of Keane making a good block on a shot from Hazard.
Bernard got a standing ovation for his efforts when he was replaced by Theo Walcott on 77 minutes and on his first foray forward down the left, Walcott drew a good save from Kepa who got to the rebound just ahead of DCL.
Quite where fourth official Martin Atkinson got five added minutes from beats me but Everton battled throughout and denied Chelsea a late consolation clearing a corner through Michael Keane and with chants of “Barkley, Barkley, what’s the score?” Ringing around the Grand Old Lady, referee Taylor called time on a quite excellent second half from Everton.