Thursday 26 December 15:00 , Goodison Park , Attendance:
HT: 0 - 0
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    • Substitution
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    • Goal!
      Dominic Calvert-Lewin
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This is how Carlo Ancelotti would have imagined it when he closed his eyes last night.

Well, not all of it, not the wait to break down obstinate Burnley, nor the occasional hairy moment when his side was drawing 0-0.

The late winning goal from Everton’s number 9 which sent Goodison Park into frenzy, though? Yes.

A clean sheet – Everton’s second in succession? Most certainly.

Ancelotti has never lost his first league game as manager and he wasn’t having that proud record ripped up here.

Everton had close to 70 per cent of the ball and 21 shots.

But my, they had to be patient. The clock was approaching 80 minutes when Gylfi Sigurdsson swarmed onto possession and passed to Djibril Sidibe.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin dived to meet the cross, arcing his neck and skilfully diverting the ball home off Nick Pope’s right post.

And Ancelotti had his dream start as Everton manager.

Calvert-Lewin being impeded by Charlie Taylor to varying degrees was twice the cue for Everton to threaten in the opening 45 minutes.

Sigurdsson supplied both free-kick deliveries, from identical positions on the right and separated by 17 minutes.

The first after six minutes was helped towards goal by Yerry Mina. Fellow centre-half Mason Holgate applied the next touch, more forceful, and low to Pope’s right but kept out by the Burnley goalkeeper.

Calvert-Lewin met Sigurdsson’s next dead ball but flashed his header beyond the far post – and the outcome wasn’t much different when Lucas Digne dug out a cross for the striker but he was too high with his attempt.

Everton were dominating the ball – 75 per cent of it in the opening half – but finding Burnley extremely stiff opposition.

Clear cut chances, then, were hard to come by. James Tarkowski flung himself in the way of a drive from Richarlison after five minutes and a visiting defensive wall stood strong to deflect behind Lucas Digne’s 13th-minute free-kick.

Seamus Coleman from his unfamiliar position on the right of a back three was the responsible for a instigating a good share of Everton’s attacks.

He spun out of a congested area to start the move which flowed through Sigurdsson and Sidibe before Tarkowski thwarted Richarlison.

Coleman employed a turn of speed and quick feet in the box to link with Richarlison and send in a dangerous cross on 20 minutes, only for the well-placed Tarkowski to intervene.

Phi Bardsley’s thigh would have been smarting after it wore a full-blooded Fabian Delph blast – and on the half hour defender Bardsley intercepted a Richarlison cross from the right destined for Bernard at the back post.

Bernard was proving an integral figure in Ancelotti’s plan for the day. The Brazilian and compatriot Richarlison were both tasked with supporting primary forward Calvert-Lewin.

Both South Americans were habitually drifting infield – leaving the flanks for raiding wing-backs Sidibe and Digne.

When Richarlison glanced on a punt down the middle, then, it was Bernard collecting and with a free run at Burnley’s rearguard.

He accepted the invite, progressing to the box before slipping in the advancing Sidibe.

Sidibe aimed for the far corner but was denied by Pope’s right leg, the ball careering in the air but out of reach of Calvert-Lewin’s desperate leap.

Chris Wood’s header 10 minutes before the break following Ashley Westwood’s free-kick flew over the top – but would likely have been scratched off regardless after the forward made his run a second too early.

No problems with Jay Rodriguez's timing right at the start of the game, the Englishman funnelling the ball towards goal after Ben Mee had kept alive a free kick into the box.

The ball might have dropped in from Rodriguez’s connection but for Mina being stationed on the line and carefully depositing it beyond his own bar.

Bernard popped up centrally again eight minutes into the second half and was picked out by Sidibe.

The forward made tracks towards goal once more but – with Pope already committed to a dive right – had his shot deflected beyond the left post by Mee.

Digne was switched on to the threat when Wood jostled with Mina on Everton’s right and got back to prevent Dwight McNeil from receiving the eventual cross.

McNeil was bursting to life. The 20-year-old checked onto his left foot to swing in a ball which Robbie Brady headed wide of Jordan Pickford’s left post.

Brady did not appear comfortable as he addressed the ball. Sean Dyche did look exasperated by the outcome.

Bernard continued to probe from the middle, Richarlison drove at Burnley and a chance for Sidibe disappeared when the Frenchman took a heavy touch from Richarlison’s pass outside Mee.

Coleman aimed a left footer from 25 yards with 20 minutes remaining but Pope was able to watch the ball whistle over his bar.

Pope comfortably grabbed a Mina header – but Pickford was more stretched to meet a pass over the top ahead of Rodriguez and carried the ball outside his box, Mina leaping to deal with the resulting free-kick.

If there was some understandable anxiety around Goodison at this time, then it soon gave way to elation.

Calvert-Lewin flung himself at Sidibe’s delivery to lift Everton to 22 points – three away from returning to the Premier League’s top half.

DCL the man for a big occasion

Everton appeared destined to follow one goalless draw with another when this match remained scoreless with 10 minutes remaining.

The hosts had tried all sorts to prise open cussed Burnley, attacking down both flanks and through the middle but meeting a wall of claret and blue resistance.

When they did progress beyond Burnley’s backline, Everton found Nick Pope in obstinate and athletic form.

They hadn’t quite exhausted all options, though, nor exhausted themselves in this relentless month of football.

Gylfi Sigurdsson hustled on the halfway line and after claiming possession swiftly feed Djibril Sidibe.

The France international full-back is fantastic in these situations. He had directly assisted four goals before today this season.

From the minute he swiped his right boot through the ball, you suspected assist number five was on its way.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s movement was smart, positioning the striker in front of the otherwise faultless James Tarkowski.

Calvert-Lewin connected beautifully, directing the ball across Pope and into the net off the inside of the keeper’s right post.

Three weeks after terrorising Chelsea and scoring twice here on a seminal afternoon in Everton’s season, this was Calvert-Lewin stepping up again.

He has six Premier League goals in 12 starts this season – eight in 15 in all competitions – numbers which indicate he is fast becoming a vital figure in this Everton team.

Carlo's First Day 

Carlo Ancelotti emerged from Goodison Park’s narrow tunnel to an ear-splitting reception.

The Italian waved appreciatively, quietly surveyed his new home, then strode to the home dugout to make himself comfortable.

He remained on his pew for all of a minute, Ancelotti appearing on the fringe of his technical area with 60 seconds on the clock.

Hands sunk in the pockets of his dark, thigh-length jacket, Ancelotti prowled his rectangular domain – occasionally strode beyond it in a bid to be as close to the action as possible – immersed in the game.

Occasionally, the 60-year-old would draw his left hand from its resting place, point and cajole, urge Bernard to close Robbie Brady on Burnley’s right.

Ancelotti spun on his heels after Lucas Digne was punished for an innocuous looking challenge on Brady but was back in situ before Burnley took the resulting free kick.

The manager was down the tunnel before referee Anthony Taylor had finished blasting his whistle to signal half-time.

Ancelotti remained fixed to his position following the break, nicely positioned to feed the ball back to Sidibe and implicitly tell his team to quicken their pace.

The former AC Milan boss oversaw a second-half change to something more like the 4-4-2 to which Evertonians have grown accustomed in the past three weeks - certainly the twin strikeforce of late was more in evidence as Ancelotti gradually ramped-up the pressure on his hunt for a decisive goal.

He turned and gesticulated at his bench with 15 minutes to play and before long Duncan Ferguson was summoning Moise Kean from his warm up.

There was another discussion with the men behind him after Pope clutched a low Sidibe centre and Theo Walcott was promptly heading for the dugout to prepare himself.

Then Sidibe crossed again, Calvert-Lewin scored and Ancelotti and Everton had the goal they craved. Walcott waited a little longer, eventually introduced to see his team to safety.

A tactical adjustment from a man adept at thinking on his feet and who spent all afternoon standing on them as he made, in his words, the "perfect" start as Everton boss.

40-50 In Quick Order

Mason Holgate had 18 minutes of Premier League football until getting his starting chance at Brighton & Hove Albion back in October.

The defender asserted all along he was desperate to be involved, his appetite fuelled by last season’s loan at West Bromwich Albion.

Holgate is admirably confident in his own ability and was adamant he was ready to figure prominently for Everton.

He recognised the task of proving himself correct fell plumb on his own shoulders.

In that game at Brighton – his 41st in the Premier League – Holgate was assured and vocal. He strode forwards to slice open his opponents with an intelligent pass which freed Dominic Calvert-Lewin to score.

The top and bottom of it on a personal note for Holgate was he’d done enough to retain his starting spot.

And that has been the way of it since. Indeed, this match was Holgate’s 10th on the spin in the league – his 12th in a row in all competitions without missing a minute.

He’s been used to very good effect in the centre of midfield, in an orthodox defensive pair and, here, on the left of a back three.

Everton hogged the ball against Burnley, which meant their three main defenders seeing the greatest amount of possession.

Holgate had 81 touches and was successful with 87.8 per cent of his 74 passes – the second highest success rate in his team behind Gylfi Sigurdsson.

He did his day job extremely well, too, making three clearances and recovering possession six times.

Premier League appearance number 50 was one Mason Holgate should remember fondly.

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