Gylfi Sigurdsson says Everton’s excellent 1-0 win over in-form Chelsea on Saturday night was the result of a performance rich in “confidence and spirit”, as he saluted the inspirational impact of the returning Toffees fans at Goodison Park.
Skipper Sigurdsson struck the only goal of the game from the penalty spot midway through the first half. The Icelander nervelessly slotted in from 12 yards after Chelsea goalkeeper Édouard Mendy was penalised for bringing down Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the area.
Roared on by a vocal crowd of 2,000 Evertonians, the Toffees performed with intensity, desire and quality against a Chelsea team previously on a 17-game unbeaten run.
The Everton backline defended with diligence and authority to keep Chelsea’s gifted forwards at bay, while Carlo Ancelotti’s side also carried a consistent goalscoring threat.
Richarlison twice forced smart stops from Mendy after being played in by Sigurdsson, who created a total of six chances on the night. That is the highest total by an Everton player in a Premier League match for two years.
Sigurdsson’s match-winning strike capped a memorable week for the 31-year-old, after it was announced he and his wife Alexandra are expecting their first child.
“It was a fantastic result for us,” Sigurdsson said.
“Defensively it was a very good performance against a team who are good in possession and move the ball really well.
“It was nice to score tonight and even better that it proved to be the winning goal.
“We needed to get back to winning ways and how we were playing in the first four or five games of the season – with a lot of spirit, confidence and goals.
“The fans were fantastic. You almost forget what it’s like to play in front of the supporters, it’s been so long since we did it.
“But you get that buzz and the goosebumps when you walk out. There were only 2,000 people in the stadium but it was fantastic.”
Sigurdsson was keen to pay tribute to the Everton backline after an outstanding collective display.
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ANCELOTTI HAILS IMPORTANCE OF FANS TO SPIRITED DISPLAY
Michael Keane and Yerry Mina were imperious in central defence, while Mason Holgate and Ben Godfrey excelled as they filled in a full-back in the absence of established pair Seamus Coleman and Lucas Digne.
Chelsea, who would have moved top of the Premier League with victory at Goodison, were unable to muster a single shot on target after the 28th minute of the game.
Sigurdsson said the team’s impressive defensive performance was the product of a concerted effort on the training pitches at USM Finch Farm.
“Throughout the week, we’ve done some work on our defensive shape and it obviously worked tonight,” Sigurdsson added.
“The defence were fantastic.
“We’ve got a few players playing out of position due to injuries. We kept a clean sheet I thought we were quite comfortable.
“They had a lot of possession but I felt the shape worked perfectly."