In a week in which Carlo Ancelotti had spoken of Richarlison as a possible future Ballon d’Or contender, two more goals from Dominic Calvert-Lewin in a brilliant display of his team’s attack ended the wait for Everton’s victory. But only fair.
A poignant late comeback from Fulham in which Ruben Loftus-Cheek fell back once after Ivan Cavaleiro’s missed penalty was further confirmation that the Italian side still have plenty of room for improvement. Ancelotti had demanded a reaction from his players after three consecutive defeats in the Premier League and here they duly obeyed, although Scott Parker’s wrestling team could feel a bit difficult despite falling behind in the opening minute.
With Séamus Coleman offside again following a comeback from his hamstring injury, this time Ancelotti turned to Alex Iwobi to fill in Everton’s troubled right flank as a winger. It was an intriguing move that seemed designed both to maximize the threat from Richarlison and James Rodriguez in free roles behind Calvert-Lewin and to provide more solidity to his fragile defense due to the presence of Michael Keane, Yerry Mina and Ben Godfrey as back. Three.
Everton had conceded seven goals in their three losses to Southampton, Newcastle and Manchester United after a brilliant start to the campaign that saw them set the pace early at the top of the table. It was no coincidence that the losing streak also coincided with Richarlison’s absence following his red card against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby and the Brazilian seemed eager to make up for lost time.
Barely 40 seconds had elapsed when Cavaleiro’s header back to Harrison Reed was missed and Richarlison seized his chance, sliding into the box before squaring for Calvert-Lewin to get home through a couple of deflections. To its credit, however, Fulham, which selected former Everton players Antonee Robinson and Ademola Lookman in its starting lineup, did not drop its head and was level in 14 minutes. Bobby Decordova-Reid had worn down his previous effort from inside the penalty area, but made no mistake after landing well with Tom Cairney.
But while Everton still looked shaky in the back, there was nothing stopping them in the attack. Calvert-Lewin was denied his second by an offside flag after touching home an Iwobi cross, though he didn’t have to wait long for another shot. A brilliant infield run from Iwobi created room for Lucas Digne on the opposite flank to deliver a perfect cross that Calvert-Lewin expertly gobbled down to move as the Premier League’s top scorer with 10 so far this season. Perhaps feeling left out of all the fun, Rodriguez’s sumptuous pass to the outside that allowed Digne to knock out Doucouré created a third goal that left Fulham with a mountain to climb with nearly an hour of match left to play.
Despite scoring within seconds of coming off the bench in his debut in a 4-0 win over Manchester City in January 2017, Lookman went on to make fewer than 50 appearances for Everton before being sold to RB Leipzig last summer. . His return to the Premier League on a one-season loan has given Fulham fans some hope of avoiding relegation this time around, even if his penalty to Panenka in injury time from their last game, against West Ham, gave him away it cost Parker’s team a precious point.
In theory, he should have been able to capitalize on Iwobi’s inexperience in a defensive role, but Digne’s threat on the other flank was such that the former England U21 striker was traded to the right for the second half. Parker shot Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Aleksandr Mitrovic with half an hour to play in an attempt to put pressure on the Everton defense and it was the Chelsea loan that won a penalty after being brought down by Godfrey.
This time, instead of Lookman, it was Cavaleiro who was entrusted with the penalty shot, but the Portuguese striker slipped when he made contact and his effort shot over the bar. Fulham still ensured there was a frantic finish after Lookman replaced Loftus-Cheek within 60 seconds of the penalty error, but to Ancelotti’s relief, Everton held their ground.
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