Richarlison’s wonderful solo goal 13 minutes after half-time inspired Everton to a victory over Crystal Palace which lifted Carlo Ancelotti’s team to seventh in the Premier League table.
Unbeaten in six games at Goodison Park – and without a loss anywhere in five – the Blues are in striking distance of the top five.
Whisper it quietly, five points adrift of Chelsea in fourth, albeit the Londoners have a game in hand.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin added a third goal for Everton after Bernard’s 18th-minute strike was cancelled out by Christian Benteke six minutes after half-time.
Everton were under the cosh for the first time in the game when Richarlison added another vital and quite brilliant goal to his fast-swelling collection.
Calvert-Lewin got an important touch wide on the left to help on Morgan Schneidelrin’s forward ball.
Richarlison was on the scene in a flash but still had an awful long way to go to score his nith Premier League goal this term.
Off he went, like an express train, the ball glued to his feet and mesmerising Palace’s defenders.
Gary Cahill tried to force Richarlison wide but had no joy.
The Everton man jinked inside, tipping Cahill off balance, before planting a firm right-foot finish across Vicente Guaita.
Richarlison’s finish was a carbon copy of the one which did for Brighton & Hove Albion last month.
His header against the bar from Lucas Digne’s corner with two minutes remaining set the stage for Calvert-Lewin to turn home his 11th goal of the campaign – and the one which put a lid on Palace’s revival hopes.
Bernard scored for the second successive Goodison Park game when he applied a graceful touch to Theo Walcott’s terrific cross from the right.
Benteke’s leveller arrived when the Belgian latched onto Wilfried Zaha’s net and smacked his finish under Jordan Pickford, who pulled off a stop of the very highest order to repel Benteke at point-blank range shortly after Richarlison re-established Everton’s advantage.
Everton had been in the ascendancy right until Bernard’s opener but the game was in danger of listing as Palace tightened their ship.
Vicente Guaita sprawled to his right to shovel away a free-kick from Lucas Digne and Everton were by and large boxing the visitors in their own territory.
Bernard was the first Everton player to see the goal in the white of his eyes and he took full advantage.
Walcott collected a pass from Gylfi Sigurdsson and surged past Patrick Van Aanholt, the Everton player blending his speed and close control to devastating effect. On reaching the byline Walcott clipped over a delivery which was too high for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, closely monitored by Joel Ward, but not Bernard.
All alone after right-back Ward left his post to track Calvert-Lewin, Bernard allowed the ball to drop before meeting it with a swiped of his right boot. It was technically exquisite and all happened too fast for Guaita.
The first time Palace tried to escape their own territory on six minutes, DIgne and Gylfi Sigurdsson ganged up on Jordan Ayew and halted the forward’s run on halfway.
Zaha was similarly stopped in his tracks by Seamus Coleman, staying with the winger for 30 yards, swarming all over Zaha and eventually wresting possession from the Ivorian.
Walcott went down of the ball not long after setting up Bernard’s strike and after a forlorn attempt to continue made way for Djibril Sidibe midway through the half.
The change did nothing to direct the flow of the contest, Calvert-Lewin hurling himself at a ball popped into the box by Bernard but a yard short of connecting.
Palace were operating with three out-and-out forwards but massing behind the ball nonetheless.
There were six defensive bodies in the box when Richarlison had a low shot blocked by James Tomkins.
The away side had it in them to cause Everton some bother, though, and were the width of a post from hitting the front on 13 minutes.
Everton made fairly heavy weather of clearing a corner from Van Aanholt and after a sustained period of Palace pressure the same player smacked a drive from the right of the box against the base of Jordan Pickford’s left post.
Fast forwards to the end of the opening 45 minutes and Zaha cushioned a good ball over the top from Luka Milivojevic but was prevented from shooting by the smothering Pickford.
Van Aanholt had another go, swiping over with his right boot after being set up by Benteke, and soon after the restart Pickford punched clear with James McArthur looming after Zaha’s awkward, bouncing strike.
Palace, however, were gaining a foothold and their growing stature in the contest was reflected when Benteke struck into the Gwladys Street net.
Zaha was the architect, collecting a flicked header from Benteke, who continued running into the box.
Former Manchester United player Zaha chose the perfect moment to release his pass, which eliminated a clutch of Everton bodies and ushered Benteke in on goal. He drove the ball underneath Pickford to prompt a wave of Palace pressure.
Indeed, for the thick end of 10 minutes Everton were up against it, most strikingly when a Van Aanholt corner caused panic and the ball collided with Pickford’s woodwork.
The magnificent Richarlison rewrote the narrative and to add injury to insult for Paalce defender Tomkins damaged his hamstring chasing the goalscorer.
Pickford reacted brilliantly to deny Benteke a second goal after McArthur’s delivery looped into the box.
Everton returned fire with Sigurdsson, gathering Richarlison’s pass and ghosting beyond three defenders but denied at the last by Guaita.
Calvert-Lewin eased any late anxieties with a straightforward finish and might have had another when he shot over after Guaita saved from Richarlison.
No one inside Goodison Park was especially bothered by then. The job was done.
Wing Wizards Dazzle On Day Of Milestones
Bernard recently pinpointed Carlo Ancelotti’s instruction for Everton’s wingers to roam from their touchlines in search of space as reason for his sterling recent form.
Theo Walcott has been equally effusive about his new boss’s tactics which the attacker reckons can help him improve even into his fourth decade.
And on 18 minutes the two widemen – on landmark days for the pair of them – combined in clinical fashion.
First a word for Gylfi Sigurdsson, chalking up a notable feat of his own. The Icelander was maming his 100th Everton appearance – he’s scored 22 goals for the Club – and it was Sigurdsson who injected thrust into an home attack.
He surged through a crowd scene and fed Walcott on his right. Walcott was confronted by Patrick van Aanholt, Palace’s bleach blonde left-back rueing his misfortune after striking a post five minutes earlier.
Van Aanholt was tuned in, though, and it needed a fabulous piece of footwork from Walcott to defeat the Dutchman.
The Everton player stood up his man and in the time it took to shuffle the ball between his feet was gone, suddenly the other side of Van Aanholt and serving up a wonderful cross.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin made the first move towards the centre of the box, dragging right-back Joel Ward with him.
Both players were caught under the ball, Ward fatally, after leaving Bernard unaccompanied at the back post.
Bernard nevertheless needed to employ exquisite technique to control his finish, the ball darting off the Brazilian’s boot and past Vicente Guaita before the Palace keeper could react.
It was the finish of a man with confidence surging through his veins.
The player credited Ancelotti for liberating him from a typical winger’s remit for his influential contributions against Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United last month.
And here he was, in the heart of the box to power home his second goal in two matches and third of the campaign.
For Sigurdsson’s part, he has been operating deep in midfield and against his creative instincts for an extended period.
He is increasingly tackling the less glamourous element of the game with some relish.
Sigurdsson tore back to help out Lucas Digne when Jordan Ayew tried to escape for Palace early on and it was a moment which laid down a marker for an industrious and disciplined performance from the former Tottenham player.
Walcott suffered the most rotten luck when sustained an injury soon after creating Everton’s breakthrough striker – and off the back of his match-winning turn last week.
If there was anything to be said for the timing of his problem it is in the two-week break until Everton are back in action, at Arsenal.
Richarlison’s Figures Add Up
Richarlison is making a stock in trade of the spectacular.
He was in a promising position when he picked up the ball 13 minutes after half-time but no more.
Still, people instinctively climbed from their seats, a response born of watching Richarlison produce the extraordinary time and again in an Everto shirt.
Palace were powerless to stop him, this fearless attacker with one thing in his mind.
Richarlison was too fast and too skilful for England international and Champions League winner Gary Cahill, his strike too true and accurate for Vicente Guaita.
The complete striker, Carlo Ancelotti called him. Richarlison showed the other string to his bow last week when charging forward from a position on the left and doing the heavy lifting for Everton’s winning goal at Watford.
He has nine Premier League goals and three assists this season – contributing to a goal once in every two starts.
And like the batsman who makes his runs on a dicey track, Richarlison scores at clutch moments. He senses when his team needs him and produces.
He is a gem and he’s Everton’s.
A word, too, for Everton’s growing strength in depth.
When Everton’s teamsheet dropped pre match the names printed under the Blues’ badge represented a show of faith from manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The manager was not compelled to rest players on the cusp of a two-week break and Ancelotti evidently trusted Michael Keane, Bernard and Seamus Coleman to slip into Everton’s side without disrupting any rhythm and impetus generated by last week’s dramatic success at Watford.
All three delivered important contributions and the same could be said for Djibril Sidbie who replaced the stricken Theo Walcott in a like-for-like swap midway through the first half.
Winds of Change
We are battening down the hatches in advance of Storm Ciara but no doubt the winds of change have already passed through Goodison Park during two uplifting months.
The transformation began with a barmy Goodison Park afternoon under the exuberant but shrewd caretaker management of Duncan Ferguson, Everton going to town on an unsuspecting Chelsea team to win 3-1.
Carlo Ancelotti strode into the building a fortnight later following sustaining draws against Manchester United and Arsenal.
The Italian has made a big play of not overhauling things, indeed the 4-4-2 used by Ferguson is an Ancelotti staple.
So too is the manager’s constant demand for more from his team. Ancelotti’s outlook dictated that any satisfaction he felt over winning three of his opening four games was caveated by the wish for his team to play more progressive football.
By the verdict of those players who received the sharp end of Ancelotti’s tongue halfway through a game at West Ham, the former Real Madrid boss summons his angry person every now and again.
Ancelotti’s strong words had the desired effect. Everton improved after the break in the East End and three days later were very good for huge swathes of a match against Newcastle United.
The Blues saw two points slip through their fingers in the closing minutes of that match but, in contrast to his mood at West Ham three days earlier, Ancelotti was upbeat. Narked about the goals conceded, obviously, but pleased to see his team passing with more urgency and ambiton.
The underlying message read, continue along these lines and it’ll pay off more often than not. Seven days later and the dividends were handsome, Everton keeping the bit between their teeth at 202 and down to 10 men to race away and win at Watford.
To this contest and Palace were threatening to overturn Everton’s lead following Christian Benteke’s equaliser.
This productive period has infused Ancelotti’s team with a deal of belief, however,
Where they would have feared the worst after being reined in a couple of months back, there was a conviction among Everton’s players they could go and win the game again.
Having a player of Richarlison’s talent spearheading the effort helps you cause, of course. And this was another magnificent solo effort from the South Anerican.
All told for Everton, that is 22 points collected from 11 matches, a period featuring six wins, four draws and a single defeat against Manchester City.
They’ve won four of the last six at home and drawn the other two.
Moreover, Everton have hauled themselves up to seventh, a position which could potentially secure European football, and are only one point behind Tottenham Hotspur in fifth.
A lot has changed indeed.
Not so much Hurricane Ciara as Hurricane Carlo.