Jordan Pickford says manager Marco Silva’s half-time team talk was the catalyst for Everton’s stirring Goodison Park victory over Chelsea on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Pickford recorded his third clean sheet in four Premier League matches – and second this term against the top-four chasing Londoners.
The England number one saved agilely from Eden Hazard early in the match, as Everton battened down the hatches against a Chelsea side enjoying large swathes of possession in the opening 45 minutes.
And the contest swung decisively in the hosts’ favour following the restart. Richarlison scored shortly after Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalga had kept out an Andre Gomes strike.
Spaniard Kepa was defeated again when Gyfli Sigurdsson converted on the rebound after his initial penalty was stopped to give Everton the two-goal lead which reflected their second-half superiority.
“The manager told us we were in a great position for the second half, that if you don’t play well but are still 0-0, it is a great stepping stone,” said Pickford.
“And we came back out flying. It was a great start to the second half and after we scored the first goal we developed some momentum.
“We weren’t on our A-game in the first half and had a lot to improve.
“We got the early goal and dictated the next 20 minutes. It was great for us and will build our confidence.
“We showed a lot of character and guts. The fans were great again and we said after the Liverpool game how much that helps us.
“We have to perform for the fans to get us going, so it works both ways. But they were terrific and, hopefully, we can put smiles on their faces a lot more before the end of the season.”
Pickford downplayed his own contribution to Everton's success, which also featured an athletic tip over from Callum Hudson-Odoi’s rising strike.
The keeper’s save down to his left from Gonzalo Higuain’s skidding effort when Everton led 1-0 was perhaps the pick of the bunch.
Pickford's authoritative performance, then, represented the ideal way in which to mark his 100th Premier League appearance.
His 101st will likely come against West Ham United in a fortnight. And the former Sunderland player, who has started and finished all 69 of Everton’s top-flight games since switching from Wearside in summer 2017, insists beating Chelsea can act as a timely tonic ahead of his side's demanding run-in.
“We want to win every game,” said Pickford. “We have some tough fixtures but that’s what Premier League football is and why we work hard during the week: to perform on a Saturday.
“We still have Arsenal and Manchester United to play at Goodison Park, so there are some great games to look forward to.
“A major part of playing for Everton is keeping the fans happy and performing for them.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, we aim to win. You have your blips in football but we need to finish the season strongly.”
On a personal note, Pickford was pleased to have a hand in securing three points which moved Everton within striking distance of seventh-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“I was in the right position at the right time to make a couple of saves,”, added the 25-year-old, who is poised to feature for England in European Championship qualifying games against Czech Republic and Montenegro in the next seven days.
“I didn’t have too much to do, really, it was about managing the game until half-time.
“That is when the manager comes into play and gives us his tactics and we stuck to them in the second half.
“I have kept three clean sheets out of four, so I don’t think that is too bad.
“It was my 100th game in the Premier League and I think I am still learning and always will be.
“Chelsea are a top side and you expect to be busy. I just have to knuckle down, train well and show people what I can do.
“I got the clean sheet and the lads were terrific.”