Everton were unable to reach the heights obtained in last weekend’s sparkling victory over Crystal Palace but showed resolve and gritty determination to take a point from a full-blooded contest at Fulham.
Demarai Gray and Dominic Calvert-Lewin came closest for Everton in a breathless first half – the former seeing a rising drive athletically saved by Bernd Leno and Calvert-Lewin unable to get the requisite power on a devilish Gray cross.
Jordan Pickford, meanwhile, miraculously kept out a powerful Willian strike from six yards as the teams had a combined 19 shots on goal before half-time.
The second half was a more attritional affair, with Fulham enjoying the majority of possession and Everton’s threat mainly on the counter.
Amadou Onana saw a shot go inches wide, while Aleksander Mitrovic was a persistent menace for the home side.
As it was, neither side was able to make a decisive breakthrough, and Everton’s attention will now turn to another evening kick-off against Leicester City at Goodison Park next Saturday.
Keepers Star In End-To-End Opening Period
In a barnstorming start to the match, Anthony Gordon had Everton’s first opportunity when he hammered a shot at goal that former Blues Academy product Antonee Robinson dived in to block.
Gordon’s fellow wing wizard Gray was next to go close when his well-hit strike was kept out by Leno.
If that save was impressive, then Pickford’s from Willian on eight minutes was spectacular.
The Brazilian forward swivelled sharply to work space for a shot six yards out – he smashed an effort towards goal which Pickford somehow tipped over the crossbar.
Fulham were building up ahead of steam at this point and Pickford and was on his mettle again to get a fingertip to a Mitrovic header which looked destined for the top corner.
Toffees Up The Ante, Mitrovic Escapes Red Card
Everton gradually regained a foothold in the game and Gray turned creator, whipping a fabulous ball into the box – just in front of Leno – which Calvert-Lewin reached with an outstretched foot. He could not get enough purchase on his effort, though, and the ball went wide of the post.
The game’s first real flashpoint came on 25 minutes when Mitrovic mistimed a tackle on Idrissa Gana Gueye, catching him high on the ankle. The Serbian was surely a relieved man to see referee John Brooks issue only a yellow card
Everton fashioned two excellent chances as the game approached half-time. First, James Tarkowski got a strong connection on a header but it was straight down Leno’s throat, before Gordon tricked his way past Bobby De Cordova-Reid and flashed a shot over the bar.
Blues Stand Up To Fulham Pressure
Everton manager Frank Lampard warned of Mitrovic’s aerial threat ahead of the game and the striker displayed that renowned prowess early in the second half when he leapt high to head Andreas Pereira’s delivery fractions over.
The second half wasn’t quite as opportunity-laden as the first but Everton almost made the breakthrough when Onana squeezed a shot just wide of the post close to the hour-mark, before Mitrovic fired over on the half-volley when well positioned.
It was at this juncture that Lampard made his first changes, with Nathan Patterson and James Garner replacing Coleman and Gana.
Calvert-Lewin had the ball in net on 70 minutes but was, belatedly, flagged offside from Alex Iwobi’s pass.
Fulham came again on 80 minutes when Willian took aim from just inside the area – Pickford got everything behind it to make the save.
Garner then made a vital intervention, getting a toe on a Willian cut-back to prevent a Fulham effort on goal.
The home side, backed by an increasingly vocal home support, applied pressure in the game’s final stanza but Everton dug deep to secure a hard-earned point.