Richarlison and Pickford the heroes as fighting Everton overcome Chelsea

Sunday, 1 May, 2022 0comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 1 - 0 Chelsea

Everton battled their way to another vital home victory in the cauldron of yet another deafening Goodison Park atmosphere, edging Chelsea by Richarlison's solitary goal thanks in large part to Jordan Pickford's brilliance.

The England No.1 pulled off a stunning save on the hour to deny Cesar Azpilicueta after Mason Mount had struck the inside of the post, blocked Antonio Rüdiger's effort from the ensuing corner and denied Mateo Kovacic at the end as the home fans held their breath through seven tortuous minutes of stoppage time.

Better finishing from Vitalii Mykolenko and Demarai Gray in highly promising positions would have made the final stages a lot more comfortable for the Toffees but they defended for their lives to grab three precious points and ensured Chelsea lost on the road for the first time since mid-January.

Had Azpilicueta scored, it would have been atonement for what was, ultimately, a decisive error before the second half was two minutes old which gifted Richarlison the chance to win it for an amped up Blues side who scrapped tirelessly throughout.

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The build-up before kick-off was marked by an unprecedented show of support by Evertonians in the streets around the ground as thousands massed amid blue smoke to greet the arriving team coach.

And that energy was translated to the pitch as the players chased, harried pressed Chelsea in the early stages and won an early free-kick that Anthony Gordon fired disappointingly off target before Mount curled a shot inches over at the other end.

Facing the club where he became a playing legend, Frank Lampard had mirrored Chelsea's formation with a back three of his own as Yerry Mina returned alongside Mason Holgate and Seamus Coleman while Alex Iwobi and Vitalii Mykolenko lined up as wing-backs. Fabian Delph was restored to central midfield as Abdoulaye Doucourè kept his place and Allan started on the bench.

The visitors dominated the ball but were largely kept in check by their hosts and chances created were fairly even in the first half. Mina had an 11th-minute penalty claim waved away and Gordon bounced a left-foot shot wide before things got increasingly tetchy late in the half. Coleman's excellent recovering tackle prevented Timo Werner from threatening while Doucouré had a shot charged down for Everton.

The second period had barely begun before Everton made the breakthrough. Richarlison and Gray had led the press and the pair combined to hassle Azpilicueta just outside his own penalty area. The Brazilian blocked the Spaniard's attempted pass out, Gray knocked the loose ball back to him and Richarlison stroked it past Edouard Mendy and into the far corner.

As they did against Newcastle and Manchester United, the Blues and their baying faithful now had something to hold onto but they had a golden chance to double the lead almost straight away. Gordon slipped a pass inside to Gray who laid it on for Doucouré and when the midfielder picked out Mykolenko's run, the Ukrainian was in with a clear opening but he sliced a left-foot shot past the left upright.

While that stung Chelsea into greater adventure going forward, they couldn't find a way past Pickford. Mount's shot in the 59th minute smacked off one post, glanced the other as it flashed across Everton's goal where Azpilicueta was free to rattle it back on target.

Pickford had scrambled back to his feet superbly, though, and made an incredible stop at his near post where Mina knocked it behind from a corner. That set-piece ended at the feet of Rüdiger but the goalkeeper threw himself in the way and saved by taking the ball full in the face as Everton's goal survived.

A shove on Gray in the opposite box went unpunished following a check by Video Assistant Referee, John Brooks, Rüdiger sent a speculative effort sailing over and Kai Havertz headed wide but PIckford wasn't tested again until Ruben Loftus-Cheek strode forward and unloaded from 25 yards but the keeper batted it over.

Richarlison hobbled off for Salomon Rondon with 10 minutes of normal time left but it was Gray who came close to making the points safe in the 85th minute. Allan, a substitute himself for Delph who was playing on a yellow card, linked up with Doucouré who found Gray but his attempted curler flew a whisker over the crossbar.

And Gordon forced a late save from Mendy as he scampered away down the left before the fourth official's board went up with an unwelcome tally of added. minutes.

The Blues held firm, though, as Pickford got down low to push away Kovacic's shot in a crowder Everton box while Rondon and sub Dele Alli almost forced the ball home at the other end before referee Kevin Friend finally blew the whistle to the relief of the fraught Goodison faithful.

The win drags the Toffees back to within two points of Burnley and now within the same number of points as Leeds but with a game in hand on both, meaning that survival remains in Everton's hands.

 


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