Everton produced an eye-catching team performance of style and commitment to get their season back on track with a 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Goodison Park.
An impressive start was rewarded on 11 minutes as Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit his first goal since his famous winner against Palace back in May, spinning Marc Guehi on the edge of the area and arrowing a pinpoint finish past Vicente Guaita.
Frank Lampard’s men needed strong resolve to keep the visitors at bay in the early stages of the second half, before two outstanding goals sealed victory, Anthony Gordon tapping home from close range following a move that involved most players in royal blue.
And substitute Dwight McNeil then put the result beyond doubt on 84 minutes, playing a one-two with Alex Iwobi, collecting the Nigerian’s lovely backheel and finishing inside the area.
Lampard stuck with the same XI from the narrow midweek defeat at Newcastle, meaning Calvert-Lewin retained his place leading the Blues’ attack, flanked by Gordon and Demarai Gray.
FT. Up the fantastic Toffees! ✊— Everton (@Everton) October 22, 2022
🔵 3-0 🦅 #EVECRY pic.twitter.com/LHaANLUg80
The attacking trio took little time to get involved, roared on by the Goodison faithful as Everton sprinted out of the blocks.
With three minutes on the clock, James Tarkowski picked out Gray down the left wing with what is fast becoming a trademark long-range pass. The forward raced down the touchline, cut inside and sent in a low cross that needs alert reactions from Joachim Andersen to clear.
More pressure followed on the wings as Gray opted to go high with his delivery next time, looping in a cross that had too much zip for Gordon waiting at the back post.
On nine minutes, Amadou Onana showcased why he is so highly rated by Lampard and Evertonians alike with an exquisite 30-yard low through ball to release Gordon down the right whose low centre was cleared by Guehi.
The constant Everton pressure continued when Gray found space from 20 yards out to drill a low drive into the arms of Guaita.
But there was to be no denying the Blues moments later as Calvert-Lewin created and finished the opener.
The striker combined graft and class in a matter of seconds, nicking the ball off Luka Milivojevic 30 yards out from Palace’s goal and enabling Onana to feed Iwobi. The Nigerian - playing in a more advanced No.10 role - made a quick pass inside to Calvert-Lewin on the edge of the area, who turned Guehi and slotted a precise finish into the left-hand corner.
Advantage gained, and deservedly so, there was no slowing down the hosts. On 17 minutes, Iwobi spotted Gordon hugging the right touchline and sprayed a pass out to the Academy graduate who knocked the ball past Tyrick Mitchell and crossed into Gray. The forward let the ball drop and hit a half-volley that was blocked by Palace.
It was so close to 2-0 midway through the first half when fine work from Idrissa Gana Gueye saw the Senegalese midfielder combine with Vitalii Mykolenko and Iwobi before breaking inside and stretching to tee up Gordon whose thunderous 20-yard finish was turned over the bar by Guaita.
The tempo dropped a tad as the half-hour mark approached, only for Goodison to burst back into life when referee Simon Hooper stopped play for a clash of heads between Conor Coady and Milivojevic in the Palace area with Everton on the attack. When play resumed, the visitors were given the ball. Moments later when Mykolenko and Andersen also required treatment in the Blues’ box… Palace were given the ball on midway as play resumed, much to the bemusement of the home crowd.
Half-chances came for Gordon and Calvert-Lewin, with Everton having to be aware that Palace’s potent threat on the counter did not undo all their excellent work of the first half. But as three minutes of added time were signalled, Lampard’s side safely navigated their way to the interval buoyed by a job very much well done.
With Everton having made a rapid start to the opening half, it was the visitors who did likewise in the second and an equaliser nearly came their on 51 minutes when, seconds after Mykolenko made a brave block inside the area to deny Odsonne Edouard, Jordan Ayew cut a pass across goal from Michael Olise to see his close-range finish turned over the bar by the leg of Coady.
The Blues needed a response and it came four minutes later as Gana’s incisive through ball released Gray down the middle. The former Leicester man opted to play in Calvert-Lewin through the left inside the area when Iwobi looked the better option on the opposite side and the England international was forced wide as he rounded Guaita.
The pendulum swung back Palace’s way with an hour gone as Olise curled a free-kick on the right edge of the area on to the roof of Palace’s net, with Patrick Vieira making the game’s first changes second later, Olise and Milivojevic being replaced by Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeffrey Schlupp.
As the visitors looked to find a route back into the match, however, it was thrust away from them with a quite brilliant second goal for the Blues on 63 minutes.
Pickford started a sublime free-flowing move that really kicked into gear on the right touchline as Calvert-Lewin, Iwobi and Onana combined, allowing Gray to slide a pass along the box to Mykolenko in acres of space. The left-back cracked a low finish that was parried by Guaita, with Gordon having the simple task of mopping up the rebound from two yards out.
The celebrations were cut short when the linesman raised his offside flag but, after VAR intervened to show the forward clearly onside, they were back on again as Goodison erupted.
The Grand Old Lady was deafening again six minutes later, not for a goal this time but after Tarkowski tracked Mateta as he zoomed down the right channel before finishing with a crunching tackle on the byline that resulted in a goal-kick.
There was still time for a few other meaty challenges from both teams ahead of Everton’s first substitutions, Dwight McNeil coming on for Gray, with James Garner and Neal Maupay soon replacing Onana and Calvert-Lewin.
If Everton’s second was perfect team play, the third was utter cheekiness as three points were sealed six minutes from time.
McNeil drifted in from the left, passed inside the area to Iwobi and, with the Nigerian having the chance to shoot, he opted for a slick backheel for McNeil to crash home after breaking into the box.
It was a top-class goal from a top-class performance that brings the feelgood factor back to the Blues.