It was all too much for the Everton legend Colin Harvey, who could not bear any more Chelsea pressure and made for the exit with a few minutes to go. Frank Lampard’s team could withstand it, however, and kept Everton’s Premier League survival prospects in their own hands with a potentially priceless victory over Thomas Tuchel’s team.
Richarlison’s 46th-minute goal brought Everton a fourth successive Premier League win over Chelsea at Goodison Park in what was a must-win fixture given Burnley’s stirring revival under Mike Jackson. Jordan Pickford was immense in the Everton goal, repelling everything that Chelsea threw at him in the second half, while Yerry Mina was commanding in the heart of a defence that embodied resistance. Lampard’s new club live to fight another day.
team bus turned on to Goodison Road 90 minutes before kick-off it was met by thousands of fans who had congregated with banners and blue flares to welcome Lampard’s players. The question was how those with the greatest influence on Everton’s Premier League status would respond? As they had to, was the answer.
Goodison was a beautiful bear-pit, imploring its team on while responding to any Chelsea touch or adverse decision with a chorus of boos. There were plenty of the former. Lampard set up his team to match Thomas Tuchel’s 3-4-3 formation but in the knowledge that the visitors, like Liverpool at Anfield last Sunday, would dominate possession. Chelsea enjoyed a 75% share in the first half. Jorginho and Ruben Loftus-Cheek regularly passed through midfield with ease and yet, for all the space and promising positions that Mason Mount found
Jordan Pickford was rarely employed in the Everton goal throughout the first half. Mount curled over from 20 yards and Timo Werner was denied by a fine recovery challenge from Séamus Coleman after Loftus-Cheek had broken through Everton’s lines but the Chelsea threat was otherwise limited. Kai Havertz spent most of the opening 45 minutes engaged in an off-the-ball spat with Yerry Mina. Distractions served Everton’s purpose as Chelsea began to lose composure.
Anthony Gordon fed off the crowd to tear at the visitors from the first whistle. Brought down in a dangerous area by Loftus-Cheek the 21-year-old took the resulting free-kick himself but, after blazing over, Everton did not seriously threaten again until the breakthrough. The intent was there from Gordon, Richarlison and Demarai Gray but not the support of defensive-minded teammates to unsettle Thiago Silva or Antonio Rüdiger. Something had to give for Everton to claim the goal they desperately needed. It arrived in the form of a gift from César Azpilicueta rather than a change of approach from Lampard.
Everton’s moment stemmed from a throw-in by Alex Iwobi a minute after the restart. Richarlison won it under pressure from Rüdiger only for Chelsea to recover possession through Silva. The veteran squared to his captain who, seemingly unaware of Richarlison’s tireless running, took too long over a clearance and smacked the ball into the Brazilian. Suddenly Everton were two-on-one on the edge of Chelsea’s penalty area. Gray touched the rebound back to Richarlison and, just onside, he slipped a measured shot beyond Édouard Mendy into the far corner.
Goodison was in uproar and should have been celebrating the luxury of a second goal minutes later. The opportunity again came from an Iwobi throw on the right. Gordon spun away from his marker and found Abdoulaye Doucouré breaking into the Chelsea area. The midfielder released Vitalii Mykolenko on the left and the first goal of the Ukraine international’s Everton career beckoned. He opted for power over placement and fired badly wide.
A Chelsea response was inevitable and Pickford performed heroics to keep them at bay when it came. With a slice of luck too. The England goalkeeper was beaten by his international colleague Mount when the No 10 struck the inside of one post and then the other with a half-volley from Havertz’s knock-down. The rebound fell invitingly for Azpilicueta but Pickford, having leapt up and sprinted across the goalmouth, managed to save the defender’s shot on the line. Mina hacked clear and, from the resulting corner, the ball dropped to the feet of Rüdiger at the back post. Pickford saved bravely at point-blank range, injuring himself in the process. He also tipped over from Loftus-Cheek’s 25-yard drive and denied the substitute Mateo Kovacic with a low save during seven minutes of stoppage time that turned Goodison apoplectic when it was announced.
Gray could have soothed Everton nerves with five minutes remaining when breaking into the area following good work by Doucouré and the substitute Salomón Rondón but shot just over. But Everton held out, and fight on.