Everton tasted defeat for the first time in 2018-19 as a clash which saw them carve out numerous chances was undone by counter-attacking body blows in a 3-1 loss to West Ham United.
Despite the Blues looking well on top for much of this encounter, Andriy Yarmolenko’s first-half double left Silva’s men with an uphill task. And although Gylfi Sigurdsson gave them hope with a bullet header from Jonjoe Kenny’s cross seconds before the break, Marko Arnautovic’s close-range finish just past the hour mark sealed three points for the visitors and a first competitive loss as Blues boss for Silva.
It was the Blues who created the game’s first chance before the clock had hit one minute as neat play between Mason Holgate and Kenny – starting in place of the injured Seamus Coleman - resulted in the right-back swinging in a low pass for Theo Walcott to hit a shot towards goal which was deflected away.
The hosts threatened again on 10 minutes when Idrissa Gana Gueye broke into the West Ham half and drifted over a pinpoint through ball for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, only for the forward’s touch to enable keeper Lukasz Fabianski to gather the ball.
Seconds later, West Ham took the lead with their first attack. A long ball over the top of the defence was chested down by Arnautovic who slid a pass across goal for Yarmolenko to finish past Jordan Pickford.
Despite the setback, the Blues dusted themselves down to keep threatening and nearly had their reward on 25 minutes when Lucas Digne broke past Yarmolenko and caressed a teasing a cross from the left which Cenk Tosun heased into the arms of Fabianski when well placed from six yards out.
Walcott was the next to try his luck with a cheeky volley from the right-hand edge of the area that needed a sprawling Fabianski to tip over the bar. And when Declan Rice miscontrolled a pass, Tosun darted into the box and cracked a low drive which was palmed away by the Hammers keeper.
In the attacking ascendancy once again, Everton were hit by another suckerpunch just past the half-hour mark when Yarmolenko collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area, cut to his left and looped a finish past Pickford
Desperately needing a response before the break, Silva’s men found it deep into injury-time as substitute Bernard and Gana combined to find Kenny on the right, and the 21-year-old’s inch-perfect pass was headed home by Sigurdsson.
It was just what the Blues needed as Goodison got back to its passionate best for the early stages of the second half as Bernard – making his first appearance at the Grand Old Lady since joining in the summer – gave Pablo Zabaleta a tough time with tricky footwork to yield chances for Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tosun.
But no sooner had the hosts looked to have a foothold back in the contest, West Ham netted again to restore their two-goal advantage on 61 minutes. Pedro Obiang found space on the edge of the area and cut an incisive pass into the area for Arnautovic to finish first time past Pickford.
Treading a familiar path of the match, the Toffees kept plugging away. Their afternoon was summed up six minutes from time, however, when another testing cross from Digne found substitute Oumar Niasse unmarked six yards out, only for the striker’s volley to cannon back off the crossbar before West Ham booted the ball to safety.
BACKS IN BUSINESS
From the moment he walked through the doors at USM Finch Farm, Marco Silva stated his intention to boast a squad having two players challenging for each position.
How that was needed here. With 11-year servant Leighton Baines battling for the left-back spot with Lucas Digne so far this season, it was the chance for Jonjoe Kenny to stake his claim on the right side of defence after the foot injury Seamus Coleman sustained while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.
The Academy graduate did not disappoint, mixing his familiar tough-tackling traits with lung-busting runs down the right and a series of teasing crosses into the penalty area.
Kenny’s best got the Blues back into the contest. Desperately needing a response after Andriy Yarmolenko’s double, Everton reduced the deficit with seconds left of the first half when substitute Bernard switched play to the right, Idrissa Gana Gueye lofted a pass into the feet of Kenny, whose pinpoint centre was emphatically nodded home by Gylfi Sigurdsson.
On the other flank, Digne – already the creator of two of Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s goals this campaign – was equally threatening with his crossing carving out further chances for Sigurdsson, Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun.
It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the Blues but, with the campaign in its infancy, Silva certainly knows his full-back competition is in full swing.