Jordan Pickford pinpointed Everton’s resilience throughout the side as the Blues kept a sixth consecutive clean sheet at Goodison to start their 2019/20 home campaign with a 1-0 win over Watford.
Bernard’s 10th-minute strike proved the difference, with Marco Silva’s men notching their fifth victory on the spin at the Grand Old Lady to extend their impressive home form from last season.
Everton have now recorded shutouts in 10 of their past 13 games fresh from last weekend’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace.
After a dominant first half from the Toffees, Pickford needed to be alert after the break and produced a match-defining moment on 56 minutes when he raced off his line to save Troy Deeney’s strike with his face.
The England No.1 admitted his heroics may not have been straight out of the goalkeeping manual but was pleased to deny the Hornets a route back into the contest.
And the 25-year-old praised the hard graft of his teammates in another collective effort to battle to three points.
"A great result that we had to grind out,” said Pickford. “We didn’t play the football we wanted in the second half. They were a tough side but if you get three points in those games when you are not playing your best that’s progress. Clean sheets are key to get wins. We need to make this place a fortress. We started doing it the back end of last season and we need to carry it on.
“It’s a full team effort and comes all the way to whoever starts up top. All the way through the team we work hard, we’re resilient. We don’t want to get beaten and know that if we don’t concede we’ve got opportunities up top.”
On his save from Deeney, Pickford added: “I didn’t see it coming, to be fair. He’s a powerful lad so it flattened me but I’m there to make saves, that’s my job and any part of my body will do if it stops the ball going in!”