Lucy Graham returned to haunt her old club as she scored twice and set up the opener as Everton began the 2020/21 FA Women’s Super League season with an impressive 4-0 win at Bristol City.
The Blues’ last meeting with Bristol had seen Willie Kirk’s side ran out 5-0 victors in the FA Cup last term and, playing their first competition game at their new home at Bath’s Twerton Park, the Robins soon found themselves on the backfoot again.
Everton had a glorious opportunity to take the lead in the second minute when Rikke Sevecke’s ball forward sent fellow new signing Ingrid Moe Wold racing down the right flank on the overlap, but Nicoline Sorensen – another summer addition - put her header wide at the far post.
The hosts tried to respond with Aimee Palmer shooting wide from the edge of the box, but Everton’s bright start brought reward with a finely-taken goal in the seventh minute.
Graham, the former Bristol skipper, provided a neat flick-on which provided Simone Magill with the opportunity to steer a first-time volley past keeper Sophie Baggaley.
Bristol went close when Palmer grazed Everton’s crossbar with a rising attempt, but Kirk’s side extended their lead in the 19th minute when Graham again proved a thorn in the side of her old club, bundling home from close range after Sorensen had provided the cross.
The Blues continued to look the more dangerous of the two teams and threatened again when Maeva Clemeron just cleared the crossbar with a 20-yard effort.
FT. The perfect start to the new season! 😍 pic.twitter.com/1fsHJE3WKK— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) September 6, 2020
Graham added the third goal – and her second of the game – just after the hour when Magill was sent tumbling by former Everton player Faye Bryson’s outstretched leg inside the box.
The Scottish international strode up to fire a fierce right-footed strike home off the underside of the bar to put the visitors firmly in control.
And as Everton continued to ask nearly all the questions, Graham came close to her hat-trick when she sent a glancing header just wide of the far post after meeting a cross from the right.
The game may have finished in a downpour, but Everton ended it on the crest of a wave as substitute Valerie Gauvin thumped home the fourth goal – and keeper Sandy MacIver made a good save with her legs to prevent substitute Ebony Salmon scoring from a one-on-one opportunity in the dying seconds.