Everton bounced back following their disappointing FA Cup third round exit to rivals Liverpool with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in the Premier League.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men were made to sweat in the final stages but were grateful to Richarlison who had given them a 38th-minute lead which they preserved, handing the Toffees a third league win on the bounce under their veteran Italian manager.
As for the visitors, a disappointing result, it’s now just one win across their last seven outings which leaves them in mid-table but four points above the relegation places.
Naturally, there were individual winners and losers. Here are three of each from this encounter.
Ever-present this season, under two different managers, Richarlison is the only Toffees player to have started in each of their Premier League games this season. And for good reason. The 22-year-old Brazilian forward has transformed into the club’s most influential player and biggest threat since joining from Watford in 2018. Saturday showcased exactly that when he spectacularly put the hosts in front.
— Everton (@Everton) January 11, 2020
Picking up the ball from marauding left-back Lucas Digne, he composed himself before dragging onto to his unfavored right foot and then unleashing an unbeatable curling effort past Mat Ryan. This came just moments after supporters feared his game was coming to a premature end, sustaining what looked like an ankle injury.
Loser: David Coote
Another game, another VAR controversy. This one came inside the opening 10 minutes when Theo Walcott felt he was impeded by Lewis Dunk thus impacting his effort on goal. From the naked eye it felt a stonewall penalty but referee David Coote, who had a good view of the incident, thought otherwise. As usual, in such circumstances, it went to the video assistant referee who concurred or at least thought the error was not clear and obvious, much to the annoyance of the Goodison Park faithful. Everton, understandably, were disappointed with the decision. For the visitors a stroke of good luck.
Bernard was in danger of becoming forgotten in the blue half of Merseyside with Premier League appearances this season coming few and far between. Saturday’s league outing, his first since Boxing Day, was a reminder of his qualities and what he can offer Carlo Ancelotti going forward. Playing on the left flank the former Brazilian international demonstrated the required energy his manager demands. Bernard created more chances (four) than any other player on the pitch and also completed three take-ons.
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Loser: Leandro Trossard
Leandro Trossard was unlucky not to draw Brighton level eight minutes after half-time when his thunderous effort smashed Jordan Pickford’s crossbar. If it had gone in, the strike would have been a carbon copy of Curtis Jones effort that earned Liverpool the win in last weekend’s FA Cup third round meeting against the Toffees.
But in a game which the Seagulls were overwhelmed Trossard was the biggest offender. The 25-year-old Belgian forward, who joined from boyhood club Genk in the summer, lost possession on no fewer than eight occasions, and each time it would put his side on the back foot.
Winner: Mat Ryan
Heading into this fixture Mat Ryan pledged 500 Australian dollars to the WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organization Fund “for every registered save by all Premier League goalkeepers” across matchday 22. He was most certainly in charitable mood, and fine form, having made no fewer than five saves himself.
I’ll be donating $500 for every registered save by all @premierleague goalkeepers this weekend.
— Maty Ryan (@MatyRyan) January 9, 2020
Ryan, who has stood out this season in between Brighton’s goal, can be proud of his efforts. It was long ago many supporters questioned his worth to the Seagulls cause but this afternoon reaffirmed his newfound status as one of the league’s most impressive shot-stoppers.
Loser: Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Not one of his better games. Since Marco Silva exited Goodison Park no player has been more impressive in an Everton shirt than Dominic Calvert-Lewin, having bagged five goals across six Premier League games before Saturday.
The Sheffield-born marksman thought he’d bagged another, doubling Everton’s lead in the process, but his effort was scored via the hand. It was rightfully overruled by VAR – a reminder why the technology was brought in the first place: to ensure such controversial goals don’t stand.