First-half goals from Kurt Zouma and Bernard ensured Everton’s exhilarating performance at West Ham United earned the victory it richly merited.
Frenchman Zouma scored on five minutes, Bernard after 33, as Marco Silva’s side completed successive Premier League victories and moved up to ninth – and within touching distance of Wolverhampton Wanderers in seventh.
Zouma’s goal was actually incongruous with Everton’s expressive and energetic start to the match.
The Blues’ football had been slick, the ball zipped about with conviction and ambition, and their movement dragging West Ham out of their shape and away from their comfort zone.
What did for the hosts, though, was a set-piece, simple in its execution but no less effective for it.
Gylfi Sigurdsson delivered a corner from the right. Centre-back Zouma roamed into the box unattended and directed his header into the turf. The ball climbed off the surface, over the head of Aaron Cresswell on the line and lodged in the top-right corner.
By the time Bernard added Everton’s second – and the Brazilian’s first Premier League goal – his team really could have been out of sight.
The visitors had played with ambition and drive, hogged possession to the tune of 60 per cent and had seven shots to the hosts' one, when they made their dominance truly count.
Seamus Coleman and Richarlison interchanged down the right, Coleman bombing beyond the flagging Cresswell to receive his teammates’ flick and clip the ball into the centre for Bernard to convert.
A similar raid – Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes the men trading passes on this occasion – could have had Everton two up on seven minutes. Angelo Ogbonna scuppered the visitors in that instance, sliding in to prevent Gomes from shooting.
Ogbonna’s fellow centre-half Issa Diop did just enough to muscle Dominic Calvert-Lewin out of the frame following fabulous approach play from Sigurdsson, Coleman and Richarlison.
It was Lukasz Fabiankski keeping his side’s heads above water for the most part, however.
Bernard’s low blast had been blocked the rumps of lunging pair Pablo Zabaleta and Ogbonna when goalkeeper Fabianski took centre stage.
He saved at his near post from Calvert-Lewin and was swiftly to his feet to deny Sigurdsson on the rebound.
Back came Everton through left-back Lucas Digne, whose shot was pushed away to his left by Fabianski.
Idrissa Gana Gueye did fabulously well to track back and break Manuel Lanzini’s heart with the Argentine poised to fire on goal. That moment aside, West Ham were limited to a couple of ineffective efforts from Marko Arnautovic and Robert Snodgrass’ snapshot wide four minutes before half-time.
Sixty seconds earlier, Richarlison’s right-foot crack had been saved by Fabianski down to his left.
Gomes caught a volley flush nine minutes after the break but saw his blast cannon off fast-closing right-back Zabaleta.
Fabianski had a fairly easy job to deal with another Richarlison strike. But Everton were content to remain patient as West Ham – with forward pair Javier Hernandez and Michail Antonio on for the second half – tried to inject some tempo into their football.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team, though, were typically running out of steam and short of ideas when they reached the final third.
Everton, on the other hand, continued to go forward with ambition. Calvert-Lewin rippled the side netting after being threaded in by Sigurdsson.
The striker blasted his next effort high of the target and when he had another diverted off target by Ogbonna, Richarlison crashed a header against the bar from the subsequent corner. Those will go in on another day.
This, however, was an evening to enjoy the here and now.
‘Quit holding out and draw another breath’, sang The Clash in London Calling, a hit very popular around these parts.
It felt rather appropriate, then, that Everton should choose a visit to the capital to so eloquently showcase the expressive brand of football Marco Silva is striving to implement at Goodison Park.
No holding out from Everton. This was expansive, exciting and effective stuff.
Silva’s team played with width, supplied by full-backs Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne, when Richarlison and Bernard peeled inside.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was powerful up front, muscling Angelo Ogbonna and Issa Diop off the ball and turning the two imposing West Ham centre-backs with his direct and intelligent running.
A look at Everton’s midfield revealed two players in Andre Gomes and Idrissa Gana Gueye committed to operating on the front foot.
Three or four times, Gomes ate up the ground as he advance from the centre of the field, the ball glued to the Portuguese's feet.
Gana mixed his archetypal defensive work – ‘ratting around’, as Jordan Pickford smilingly has it, knowingly doing his colleague’s work an injustice – with a readiness to run beyond his attackers.
Everton launched an attack around the hour mark which ended with Gana as the furthest player forward in blue.
When West Ham mounted their inevitable riposte, the likes of Richarlison, Gomes and Gylfi Sigurdsson got stuck in with the rest of them.
There was a maturity about Everton’s football during this period. Silva promised lessons would be absorbed after Everton surrendered a similarly commanding position at Newcastle United earlier this month.
And the manner in which Silva’s team remained in control, deciding when to retreat and picking their moments to attack, proved the manager right.
Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne were terrific defensively, closing spaces as Everton narrowed their back-four to cover the width of the penalty box.
Goalscorer Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane were both commanding aerially.
Silva vowed ahead of this match Everton would play with “full focus” in their remaining seven matches.
The Blues were concentrated throughout. Relentless, in fact. No holding out.
When Everton beat Chelsea a fortnight ago Marco Silva was rightly made up with how his players had overcome a difficult first half to run out fairly convincing winners.
That opening 45 minutes, though, when Chelsea generally dictated terms, was still needling at the manager post-match. And if Everton’s start here was anything to go by, his thoughts were relayed in the Blues dressing room.
Everton started like a runaway train, too fast of speed and thought for West Ham. Too strong and hungry and slicing through their opponents with impunity.
Gylfi Sigurdsson hared off in pursuit of possession on the sound of the first whistle and a tone was set.
Operating from the right, Richarlison was by turns bustling in off his touchline and darting behind the hosts’ rearguard.
Indeed, Everton’s drive from midfield – Andre Gomes in particular repeatedly striding forward with the ball – and the movement of an electric Toffees’ front four were combining to cause West Ham an almighty headache.
The hosts, then, possibly viewed an Everton corner as an opportunity to unscramble their senses.
Certainly, it appeared as if West Ham minds were elsewhere as Kurt Zouma marauded in unchecked to deposit Sigurdsson’s corner beyond Lukasz Fabianski and give the Blues’ dynamic opening the reward it deserved.
If Everton had any concern around the half hour it would have been that their slender advantage in no way reflected the Blues’ dominance.
Any fear was put to bed in fitting fashion, the combination play between Seamus Coleman and Richarlison, allied to the pair’s mobility, perfectly in keeping with everything that had gone before.
Coleman’s low cross was perfect, inviting Bernard to touch home.
As Coleman raised his arms in jubilation and waited to be engulfed by his teammates, it felt like we were watching a man expressing joy in Everton’s football, as much as another goal for his team.
For all Everton’s attacking exploits, Marco Silva’s team did not neglect the other side of their game.
Kurt Zouma’s reintroduction for the hamstrung Yerry Mina represented the sole change from the XI which claimed three points against Chelsea.
The Frenchman announced his return in pretty unlikely fashion, his header rearing from the ground and defeating Lukasz Fabianski inside five minutes.
Zouma carried out his primary duties in exemplary fashion, too.
Operating to the left of Michael Keane, he employed his speed and athleticism to shut down Hammers striker Lucas Perez, Zouma’s reading of the game and lengthy stride additionally enabling him to get across and aid Lucas Digne in taming Robert Snodgrass.
Zouma is a real force when he is on top of his game, carrying the ball from defence to spread passes to his full-backs and neutering the threat of opponents – whatever their weapon of choice. Marko Arnautovic tried Zouma for pace and power and came off second best on both counts.
Keane, meanwhile, fresh from turning in two very good performances from England, continued his authoritative international form in club colours.
He was alert and composed when Pablo Zabaleta’s attempt at a clearance inadvertently sent striker Arnautovic running at Keane one-on-one.
It was the Everton man who held his nerve, waiting his moment and sweeping away with the ball when Arnautovic lost his way.
Idrissa Gana Gueye, in front of the defensive pair, was immaculate. The Senegalese displayed the presence of mind we have come to take as read when he bolted back to snuff out the danger as Manuel Lanzini took aim.
Gana’s reading of the game, his intercepting of passes and fondness for a tackle, takes the heat off his back-four – and makes life very unpleasant for the 29-year-old’s engine-room adversaries.