It was an unseasonably sunny afternoon to do business, but, for all its peaks and troughs, this thriller was business as usual. Comfortably the better team despite the slender margin of victory, Everton returned to winning ways. Fulham, meanwhile, missed a penalty for the second game in a row and, for all their customary heart, finished with their customary return: no points, but many more regrets.
After returning from playing two of Serbiaâ????s three games without scoring, and domestically goal-free for two months, Aleksandar Mitrovic found himself demoted to Fulhamâ????s bench. He sat glowering for 58 minutes as Fulhamâ????s seemingly banished defensive frailty returned with a vengeance, while their inability to create concrete chances remained all too present and correct.
The three-game suspension of their Brazilian talisman Richarlison directly coincided with Evertonâ????s early season fireworks being exchanged for three pointless games, the worst run of manager Carlo Ancelottiâ????s career. Richarlison returned yesterday and he set up Evertonâ????s opener after 46 seconds.
Bobby De Cordova Reid failed to control Ola Ainaâ????s slapdash header after a wayward Tosin Adarabioyo Crossfield pass. Richarlison collected and, unimpeded, hurtled to the byline. His low cross went through the unfortunate Adarabioyoâ????s legs and Dominic Calvert-Lewin bundled home.
To their credit, Fulham did not crumble. Without being so presumptuous as to match Everton for quality, with so little to lose, they set about not actually losing and they were level after 15 minutes, when lovely, triangular, training-ground interplay between Tom Cairney, Harrison Reed and Bobby De Cordova Reid ended with the latter charging through the gaping holes in Evertonâ????s defence and, as the lumbering Yerry Mina attempted to grab him, slotting past Jordan Pickford.
Alas for the hosts, the goal served chiefly to rouse the visitors and Everton were two ahead by the break. First, a sustained spell of possession climaxed when Alex Iwobi exploded forwards and found James Rodriguez. Hiis imperious touch found the overlapping Lucas Digne, who crossed low for Calvert-Lewin to guide his second of the day past Alphonse Areola.
This time, Everton did not sit back. Iwobi and Digne rampaged down the flanks, Allan and the all-action Abdoulaye Doucoure controlled the central plains, while Rodriguez and Richarlison were deftness itself. Like its predecessors their third came down Evertonâ????s left, the corridor where, in a more ideal situation for Fulham, Aina might have been robustly defending. Â Again, Rodriguezâ????s vision was superlative. Again, he spotted Digne. This time the cross was high and the lamentably unmarked Doucorue rose unchallenged to head his first Everton goal.
Invariably short on quality but rarely lacking heart or patience, Fulham introduced Mitrovic, dominated possession but still struggled to breach the yellow wall until Ben Godfrey crudely hacked down Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the penalty area. This week, Ademola Lookman demurred as, seemingly did Mitrovic. Up stepped Ivan Cavaleiro. A Lookman-style Panenka was out of the question. Instead, Ivan Cavaleiro stepped up, slipped as he made contact and the ball looped gently over the bar.
Moments later, Fulham were back in it. Lookman danced down the right, and since Digne refrained from putting in a proper challenge, crossed low. Loftus-Cheekâ????s low drive was deflected past Pickford by Mina.
Game really on? Almost but not quite. Everton were more ill-at-ease and they pulled platoons of men back, but without a crowd to urge them on Fulham, never quite seemed to believe redemption was nigh. It wasnâ????t.
That’s it. Fulham fought well in the second half but familiar failings – giving it away at the back, missing a penalty – hurt them yet again. Everton really classy in spells, but looked a bit short of confidence as they clung on.
Meantime, here is Dominic Calvert-Lewin: « Pleased. Most important thing was that we got three points. We didn’t play well in the second half, on another day we might have got punished. First half was a representation of me benefiting from having the ball out wide played in. Second half, more of a lonely, battling role trying to win fouls and hold it up. «
Fulham will have one last attack. Lookman comes down the left, has a chance to cross. . . and blooters the ball out. That will probably be the last of it.
Everton look knackered, a lot of theirs have had a lot of football recently. They win a foul that provides a few seconds of blessed relief.
We have had two of those five minutes. Fulham launching howitzers at Mitrovic, but Everton are dealing with them okay.
Five minutes added, not sure how but anyway. A promising Fulham attack ends with a sloppy ball from Robinson. Everton, at the other end, don’t have enough bodies forward to make the best of a break.
Everton looking less pressed now. Digne an outlet again. They’re at the right end of the pitch.
Martin Keown has given the MoM to Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and there an be few arguments. Two goals, excellent all-round contributions. He’s scored 13 in 11 Everton games this season.
Cavaleiro rattles forward and tries a shot from range that was 100-1 to go in from that angle and distance.
Everton have barely been out of their own half. Digne finally manages to get forward and win a corner. Everton look a side whose confidence is fragile.
Sigurdsson comes on for Richarlison, who had gone quiet. The Icelander’s first act is to give it away in a dangerous area.
Lookman with a nice cut in from the right, and a fierce shot that is bravely charged down by Davies. Everton are just digging in.
Everton are pinned back into a back five and they just haven’t had the ball. Parker has certainly got it right with the tactics in the second half, but I wonder why Mitrovic and Loftus-Cheek, surely two of his better players, are not in the XI?
Everton have really let Fulham off the hook here, they’ve hardly had an attack since the half. Lookman and others for Fulham are now running at them, pushing them back, asking questions. Fulham playing well and they are going to give Everton a tough time for the final 20 I think.
But fair play to Fulham, they do not let their heads drop. Lookman pins his ears back and gallops down the right, produces a good low cross that Loftus-Cheek meets firmly. His shot is on target, it takes a deflection off Mina and in it goes.
Oh God. PoorÂ Knight. He runs up and then slips and somehow manages to kick the ball with his right foot onto his left foot – and it balloons over. Oh it’s a horror.
Good spell of pressure from Fulham, they keep the ball in the Everton area. They take their time, they play it forward now to Mitrovic. . .
Iwobi busy down that flank again, a clever bit of play though is halted by Reed.
Good open game still. Fulham it is who drive forward now, Loftus-Cheek able to get on the ball and get his head up. Mitrovic holds it up well, and lays it off toÂ Cavaleiro who hits the target from 25. Pickford needs two bites at the cherry to gather it.
The end-to-end pattern of the first half continues. Down the other end,Â Decordova-Reid has a shot that he reckons hit an opponent on the arm. He protests. He wants to keep a lid on it, he was booked in the first half, I think for a foul on Richarlison.
Lucas Digne with a freekick form the left, Richarlison onto it! Gets a scuffed effort on goal and that’s a decent save. Terrible, or indeed non-existent, marking once again. That would have been almost as quick as the goal in the first half.
are saying that the reason Everton look so devastating out wide is that they are using wingers as wing backs – that’d be Digne on the left and Iwobi on the right. They can afford to do that against an inferior opponent against Fulham. How would you counter it? Attack down the flanks yourself, I guess. Push them back, don’t allow them to have it all their own way.
The ref brings to an end one of the most enjoyable halves of football we’ve had this season. Â
James chips it in to Richarlison, who nearly bundles it in through sheer force of will. Â
Everton keep the move alive. . . Digne again allowed to cross. Andersen misses it! Lucky for him, Richarlison also misses it too. Â
Everton just enjoying a few minutes of consolidation as they play it around at the back.
Fulham again so generous, allowing them all the time and space they could wish for. Digne is happily wandering down that left wing without any impediment, he produces a good cross andÂ DoucourÃ©, unmarked, has the freedom of the penalty area as he nods it home.
A brilliant goal! Superb football from Everton. They have so much quality out wide. Iwobi with a run from the right, cuts inside and plays it to Rodriguez, who sends it onwards to the left wing. Digne plays it in with a crisp, accurate one-timer. And there is Calvert-Lewin to tap it in with a composed, precise finish. Lovely play.
This is an excellent, entertainingÂ match. Fulham having the better of it in midfield, not least because James Rodriguez is completely off his game. Decent move from Fulham ends with Aina driving the ball not far wide from the right.
The sun is in the eyes of the Fulham goalie Areola, who misjudges a looping deflection and sees it bounce on top of the cross bar!Â
Richarlison is on the rampage. He robs an opponent in midfield and charges forward, so much strength and class in his control. Hits the target and that’s a very fine save.
Calvert-Lewin has put the ball in the net. Fulham have allowed him to romp through, but he is offside. You could say it was a perfectly played offside trap, or you could ask why he has found a space big enough to drive a bus through between the two centre halves.
De Cordova-Reid danced around Jerry Mina there like Mina was a statue. The Colombian defender’s form is a big concern for Carlo I imagine.
This is more like it. An excellent move from Fulham, clever, quick and neat one-two between Cairney and De Cordova-Reid, who receives the ball back and dances into the area, slotting the ball away with a fine low finish.
Fulham give it away again at the back, the coaching staff either cannot see or will not accept that they do not have the players for this strategy. They just about manage to get enough bodies around Richarlison to halt his powerful run at goal but it feels like another accident waiting to happen.
A foul on Richarlison, who scored for Brazil in the week against Uruguay. Everton having almost all of the ball so far.
Scott Parker in familiar stricken pose on the touchline. « It’s your worse nightmare, » says Martin Keown on the BBC comms. Â
Adarabioyo got a touch in the box for the goal that inadvertently teed up Dominic CL. When you’re out of luck, you’re out of luck.
The worst possible start for Fulham. They try to play it out from the back, they give it away. Richarlison surges forward and plays it across. Calvert-Lewin gets the touch and it’s in!Â
Happy Sunday. A minor curio this morning, with live Premier League football on the BBC with a noon kick off. Craven Cottage, perhaps the prettiest football ground in the capital, looking a picture: it is a lovely mild bright day here in London, and perhaps that can inspire Fulham to a result against Everton.
Fulham team news: Mitrovic and Anguissa on the bench (presumably post intls. . . ) Starts for Cavaleiro and Lemina. XI: Areola; Aina, Adarabioyo, Andersen, Robinson; Reed, Lemina, Cairney; Cavaleiro, De Cordova-Reid, Lookman
Fulham vs Everton kicks off a busy afternoon of football for us here on Telegraph Sport. Later, there’s the intriguing prospect of Liverpool welcoming Leicester, it’d be great if the Foxes could get a result at Anfield, make the league race as exciting as possible.
Leeds United have always been a fun watch this season win or lose, and they have a stern but by no means impossible test against Arsenal later. Â Leeds United vs Arsenal, Premier League: What time is kick-off today, what TV channel is it on and that is our prediction?
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Everton FC, Fulham F. C. , Premier League, Richarlison, Carlo Ancelotti, Dominic Calvert-Lewin
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