Everton signed off pre-season with an impressive 1-0 win over Portuguese side Sporting CP at Goodison Park.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s coolly-taken penalty on the stroke of half-time was enough to seal a confidence-boosting victory in front of a bumper crowd of 28,322.
Ahead of their Primeira Liga opener against Vizela next weekend, Sporting CP headed to Goodison in high spirits following a productive and previously unbeaten pre-season campaign, which included back-to-back 3-0 wins over Real Sociedad and Villarreal last week.
Sean Dyche named a fluid line-up for the test, including James Garner in a hybrid wing-back/midfield role.
Jordan Pickford began in goal, shielded by a defence of captain James Tarkowski, Ben Godfrey, Nathan Patterson and Ashley Young.
Amadou Onana, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Alex Iwobi were handed starts in midfield, with fit-again Calvert-Lewin spearheading the attack.
After a tentative opening 10 minutes, the game temporarily sprang to life and it was the visitors who threatened first.
A cut-back from the byline by Viktor Gyökeres, who completed a club-record move to the 19-time Portuguese champions from Coventry City this summer, missed its initial target but the ball fell kindly for Pedro Gonçalves, who could only steer his first-time effort over the target from the edge of the penalty area.
A slick move down Everton’s left flank from the resulting goal-kick then ended with Iwobi curling a shot wide of the post from an acute angle.
Sporting CP immediately went back on the front foot, though. Gyökeres was involved again but Geny Catamo blazed over from close range after a driving run and threaded pass by the Swedish striker.
Another flurry of chances in the space of a hectic two minutes arrived just after the half-hour mark.
After completing a neat one-two it looked like Gonçalves was destined to break the deadlock as he bore down on goal but his side-footed effort was tame and Pickford comfortably collected.
That opportunity once again kick-started the Toffees and moments later they were denied by a double save from Sporting CP goalkeeper Antonio Adán, who first parried Doucoure’s improvised volley before recovering quickly to keep out Calvert-Lewin’s close-range header on the rebound.
Rúben Amorim’s side responded impressively and piled forward but Gyökeres’ header at the end of a free-flowing move down the the right wing was parried to safety by Pickford.
The scoring was eventually opened by Everton via the penalty spot seconds before half-time after a superb team move.
Garner’s defence-splitting pass released Calvert-Lewin in the right channel and the striker’s low cross was inch-perfect for Doucoure, whose low shot was blocked by the hand of the sliding Eduardo Quaresma.
Calvert-Lewin was entrusted from 12 yards and, after a short run up, calmly dispatched the spot-kick past Adán in goal, who guessed the right way but stood no chance in keeping it out.
Everton made two changes for the second half, with Neal Maupay and Jarrad Branthwaite replacing Calvert-Lewin and Godfrey.
Maupay, who will wear the number 13 shirt for the coming season, went close to doubling the Blues’ advantage four minutes after the interval but Iwobi’s in-swinging cross from the left wing was marginally too high and the Frenchman was unable to get enough purchase on his header to put it beyond Adán.
With 25 minutes remaining, Ashley Young was afforded a rousing reception following his first appearance in Everton colours at Goodison, as he was replaced by Vitalii Mykolenko, who continues to build his fitness following an injury sustained towards the end of last term.
Sporting CP’s Catamo then flashed a left-footed effort harmlessly over the crossbar from 20 yards, before the visitors made a quadruple substitution.
Everton came within inches of a second goal with 15 minutes remaining when, following an intricate one-two with Iwobi, Onana struck the post with a brilliant curling effort from just outside the penalty.
Lewis Dobbin, who produced an impressive goal and an assist in a behind-closed-doors draw with Italian side Monza in midweek, and André Gomes were both introduced during the closing stages.
Having controlled proceedings for the majority of the second period, Sporting CP went close twice in the final 10 minutes, with substitute Afonso Moreira stabbing wide after the Blues failed to clear a cross before Gonçalves struck the underside of the crossbar moments later with Pickford rooted to the ground.
There was a potential late blow for Everton, when Tarkowski limped off just before the final whistle after a clash in the middle of the park.
Next up for Everton is the Premier League opener against Fulham at Goodison Park on Saturday (3pm BST).