MATCH REPORT : EVERTON 1-0 BRIGHTON HOVE & ALBION
This was not quite the slick and smooth performance Carlo Ancelotti may well have been hoping for as his Everton side attempted to draw a line under their awful FA Cup exit at the hands of a weakened Liverpool side. He will have been pleased though to register his second home win as the new Everton manager and another three points to take his tally to a very respectable 9 from a possible 12 since taking charge at Goodison Park.
Everton started the game on the front foot, they had to after that cup exit, and should have had a penalty in the opening minutes when Lewis Dunk hauled back Theo Walcott as he got onto Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s flick. Walcott’s run was impeded and knocked him off balance as he tried to steer the ball beyond Matt Ryan in the Brighton goal, but to the astonishment of Goodison Park referee David Coote did not award Everton a penalty. Replays showed that Dunk had fouled Walcott but as is becoming a very familiar pattern for Everton this season VAR agreed with Coote and chose not to award Everton a penalty. Remarkably, Everton have yet to be awarded a penalty this season even though VAR has been implemented.
Ancelotti’s tactics are starting to be evident and even the the hosts lined up in a 442 formation Walcott and Bernard tucked in behind the front two so that the formation was a quite narrow 4-2-2-2. Bernard in that position caused issues for Brighton all day and he was in such a position when he slid ball forward for Calvert-Lewin but his cross just evaded Richarlison at the far post.
Bernard was at it again when he threaded Calvert-Lewin through but Ryan made a good block at his near post to keep Brighton level.
That changed just before the interval when Bernard brought Lucas Digne into the equation on the left, Digne laid the ball off almost immediately to Richarlison. The Brazilian still had a lot to do but with quick feet he shifted the ball on to his right foot he curled a shot into the bottom corner of Ryan’s net.
The second half saw Brighton attempt to actually step up their attacking efforts and saw a Leandro Trossard shot hit the top of Jordan Pickford’s bar, although due the the VAR works it would have been ruled out for an earlier offside.
As in the first half, Everton were enjoying most of the possession, with Brighton content to keep numbers back and make it difficult for the home side to find a way through. They did have a chance to make it two nil midway through the second half when Calvert-Lewin burst past his markers to set up a shooting opportunity, but he put his attempt too close to Ryan in the Brighton goal.
The Everton striker ball did have the ball in the back of the net with just over 10 minutes remaining, forcing the ball over the line after a Digne corner, but once again Everton were on the wrong end of a VAR check, which detected handball. On this occasion though, it was the correct decision to rule the goal out.
The visitors had their best moment shortly after that, when substitute Glenn Murray produced a glancing header from Trossard’s cross, only to see Jordan Pickford dive across his goal to keep it out. There was still time for another Murray near miss before the end as the Goodison faithful held their breath.
Such a result would have flattered a rather insipid Brighton performance, but after failing once again to turn their superiority into goals Everton knew they were living dangerously and this is perhaps the biggest challenge for Ancelotti.
Final Score : Everton 1-0 Brighton
How they lined up :