Everton 2 - 0 Bournemouth
Kurt Zouma's first goal for Everton paved the way for an ugly but important victory
Everton scrapped their way to an ugly but hugely welcome victory in a game that was often befitting the terrible conditions at Goodison Park.
Kurt Zouma scored his first Blues goal, breaking the deadlock with an hour gone and substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin put paid to a late Bournemouth charge in stoppage time with a lovely finish to kill off of an often bad-tempered affair played in the wind and then torrential rain.
Still searching for his best starting XI, Marco Silva resorted to a formation that deployed Richarlison in a central striking role and featured Ademola Lookman and Bernard on the flanks. Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman returned at full-back and Michael Keane came back into the side after sitting out the FA Cup win over Bournemouth
It was the Cherries, who had lost 10 of their previous 13 games, who carried the threat in the first half an hour, however, as Everton laboured to find any fluidity in their game and the crowd became increasingly vexed by referee Anthony Taylor.
Jordan Pickford had to make a save at close range in the ninth minute to deny Josh King and David Brooks had a penalty claim waved away when he went down under a challenge by Idrissa Gueye before Jefferson Lerma fired wide from distance.
Then, just before the quarter hour mark, with Goodison seething that an apparent foul by King wasn't awarded to Zouma, Brooks was played in behind the Blues' back line but his shot came back off the post.
André Gomes was harshly adjudged to have fouled Adam Smith on the edge of the box and Pickford had to push the resulting free kick from Junior Stanislas behind. Then, with Gareth Southgate watching from the stands, Pickford gave the ball away cheaply to Fraser and his cross was headed over by King.
Everton gradually started to find their feet and Lookman picked out Bernard with a cross but the Brazilian couldn't find the target before the roles were reversed and Bernard sent in a teasing delivery to the back post but the ball wouldn't sit for Lookman and Bournemouth cleared.
The first half ended with Everton largely in the ascendency and Michael Keane saw a header drop onto the top of the crossbar while Gylfi Sigurdsson fired disappointingly wide from Bernard's pass.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead three minutes after the interval following a corner that was initially cleared back to Gueye who swung in a cross to the back post for Richarlison. The forward's initial header came back to him off a defender and his follow-up shot was cleared off the goal line by a defender.
12 minutes later, however, Everton made the breakthrough that their improving display had threatened. Steve Cook had gone close at one end, glancing a header over for Bournemouth but when Coleman's attempted cross was blocked behind at the Gwladys Street End, it resulted in the corner that would lead to the first goal.
The delivery from the right flank was headed out by a visiting defender but Digne collected the loose ball, drove to the byline and hooked a brilliant cross to the edge of the six-yard box where Zouma was on hand to head home.
Having finally got the goal advantage, however, Silva's men struggled to maintain their composure or discipline. Another potentially costly error by Keane lead to him going into the book for scything through Fraser but, fortunately, King slammed the chance that resulted into the side-netting while Gomes was lucky to avoid picking up a second yellow card for catching Cook late.
The match would remain tight over the final fifteen minutes as Eddie Howe's side battled to find an equaliser. Richarlison steered a header narrowly wide and then blazed high and wide after being played in by Sigurdsson while Pickford was forced to race off his line and make a sliding save.
Then, as the game ticked into stoppage time, Keane made an excellent last-ditch tackle to block Fraser's shot and Pickford again had to block the ball behind for what would be a handful of nervy Bournemouth corners at the end.
Those dead balls were successfully repelled, however, and from a counter-attack deep into injury time, Lookman held the ball up nicely on the left flank before squaring it to Calvert-Lewin who had come on for Richarlison and the young striker stroked it home first time.
There were plenty of aspects about the performance that will keep Silva and his staff busy as they try to rekindle the form Everton showed prior to the Anfield derby but the consensus was that a win — any kind of win — was paramount today and there was the bonus of a first clean sheet since November.
The Toffees accomplished that and they can hopefully use the confidence gleaned as a platform from which to build in the coming weeks. The victory moves them up to 10th, at least until Wolves play Manchester City tomorrow, and keeps them in touch with Watford in seventh place.