Everton Overcome Leeds For Away Day Success

All of the qualities Carlo Ancelotti felt were missing from his side's football on Saturday were abundant in Everton's performance to claim victory at Elland Road.

They applied their quality to score two very good goals and create chances for more. The spirit and character and effort Ancelotti wanted back at the first time of asking were studded through a terrific defensive effort after Leeds halved Everton's two-goal advantage early in the second half.

This was Everton's seventh away win this season and is the first time they've stitched together four straight top-flight victories on the road since 1985/86.

Ben Godfrey was immaculate in the middle of Everton's backline and ably supported by the terrific Yerry Mina.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin is back among the goals, too, the striker scoring Everton's second four minutes before the break.

Gylfi Sigurdsson, a scorer on Everton's previous visit to Yorkshire when Sheffield United were beaten on Boxing Day, swept Everton in front after nine minutes.

In truth, Everton looked comfortable at the break – but Raphinha struck on 48 minutes to set up a harum-scarum half of football.

Everton, who gave a debut to Joshua King three minutes from the end, resisted everything thrown at them to move up to sixth at full-time.

Robin Olsen, on his third Premier League start, completed a hat-trick of exceptional stops inside 60 seconds – 14 minutes after Raphinha’s strike.

The Everton goalkeeper was diving right but adjusted to save when Mateusz Klich’s 20-yard drive deflected wickedly.

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01:34 Wed 03 Feb 2021

CALVERT-LEWIN ON WHY LEEDS WIN IS 'MASSIVE' FOR BLUES

Goalscorer reflects on 2-1 success at Elland Road.


As the ball squirmed away to his left, Olsen jumped up to stick out a leg and deny Raphinha his second goal.

Finally, perhaps best of the lot, Olsen flew to his right to beat out Jack Harrison’s stinging volley from distance.

Andre Gomes, who arguably contributed his finest performance this season, began the move which gave Everton their ninth-minute advantage.

It must be the default setting for an Everton midfielder collecting the ball to look for Lucas Digne raiding down the left.

Sure enough, Digne was already powering forwards when Gomes alighted on possession.

The ball was directed over the top and perfect for the Frenchman, who was tracked by Raphinha but free to take a touch and cross nevertheless.

Sigurdsson timed his run perfectly, stealing behind Pascal Struijk to touch home his third Premier League goal this season.

For the relentless Digne, it was a sixth assist in his 12th league game this term.

Plenty of action passed between Sigurdsson’s opener and Calvert-Lewin giving Everton a two-goal cushion.

We will come to that – but first, Calvert-Lewin’s 12th Premier League strike of this campaign.

The striker was alert at the back post, arriving to meet Godfrey’s flick from Sigurdsson’s left-wing corner.

Calvert-Lewin stooped to make contact, ramming the ball in to score in the league for the first time since a draw at Burnley on 5 December.

There were more openings for Everton, who zipped the ball about with purpose and were focused and strong in defence.

Runners off the ball were a feature of the away team’s attacks and Richarlison wanted the pass when Calvert-Lewin steered wide of the post from 18 yards nine minutes before half-time.

Illan Meslier, the Leeds goalkeeper, was sharply down to his left to hold onto another Calvert-Lewin effort after the ball came back to the striker off defender Liam Cooper.

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02:36

SIGURDSSON: WE WERE DETERMINED TO GET THIS WIN

Goalscorer gives reaction to Everton's impressive 2-1 victory at Leeds United.


Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina, meanwhile, were impenetrable in the middle of Everton’s defence.

Godfrey, playing centre-half after a prolonged run at left-back, got in the way of a goalbound Raphinha strike inside 60 seconds.

The former Norwich City player made countless interceptions, pinching balls to frustrate Leeds, but it was a surge from the back that is a banker for the highlights reel.

Godfrey’s anticipation was better than Patrick Bamford’s and the defender set off from the edge of his own box, covering 50 yards and riding three challenges, before finding Alex Iwobi.

The cross from the right was fractionally too high for Calvert-Lewin.

Bamford headed over from a Luke Ayling cross and Klich shaped an effort Olsen tipped round his left post.

Leeds’ best attempt of the opening half came from Ezgjan Alioski.

Raphina directed a right-wing corner to the left-back, stationed 20 yards from goal.

Alioski met the ball sweetly on the full and his crisp strike smacked the outside of Olsen’s right post.

Mina was winning everything aerially – and executed a fine tackle on Bamford when Ayling’s whipped cross seemed set to find the striker – but the one time a Leeds player got his head to the ball in the box, Olsen was equal to the effort.

Struijk flicked on Kalvin Phillips’ free-kick with his back to goal but Everton’s Swedish keeper reacted to touch the ball over.

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03:43 Wed 03 Feb 2021

ANCELOTTI REVEALS SIGNIFICANCE OF LATEST EVERTON AWAY WIN

Blues boss praises spirit and names his outstanding performer at Leeds.


There had been little to indicate Leeds would carve a way back into the game in the period either side of half-time.

That impression counted for nothing, however, when Raphinha efficiently finished inside the left post.

Klich helped the ball forwards and nobody on either side took charge of the bouncing ball.

Bamford eventually directed it towards Raphinha, who took on the shot first time to defeat Olsen.

Everton began to play on the counter-attack, as the home side turned up the heat.

Olsen broke the hearts of Klich, Raphinha and Harrison – the last of those saves prompting a collection of anguished cries from Leeds’ dugout.

He needed treatment not long after but if Olsen simply wanted to catch his breath you wouldn’t have been surprised.

Richarlison flashed a shot past the far post after drifting in from the left, then Bamford was under acute pressure from Digne when he headed over from the excellent Dallas’s inswinging delivery.

Ancelotti sent on Michael Keane for the closing 10 minutes, sacrificing Richarlison and finishing the match with Godfrey and Digne doubling up on Everton’s left.

King was waiting on the touchline, told to hold on by Ancelotti, as Phillips clipped in a free-kick which Mina rose to clear.

Substitute Pablo Hernandez coughed up possession trying to reignite the attack and Abdoulaye Doucoure pounced to stream forwards.

Calvert-Lewin and Sigurdsson kept pace with the midfielder and it was the former who received the pass.

One-on-one with Meslier, however, Calvert-Lewin couldn’t squeeze the ball past the goalkeeper’s legs.

King finally replaced Iwobi – but the new man’s first task was to form a one-man wall after Holgate’s pull on Raphinha gave Leeds another free-kick.

Fittingly, it was Godfrey who cleared.

And Godfrey getting in the way of an Ayling blast in stoppage time, Keane repeating the trick on the follow up.

Raphinha sunk to his knees and banged the sodden turf in frustration when substitute Tyler Roberts volleyed over after controlling Bamford's fierce pass across the box in the final act of a frantic game.

My, Leeds made Everton work for this and how Ancelotti will be thrilled by his side's willingness to dig in for a precious victory.


Everton Quick Off The Mark For Right Response

It wasn’t quite the 42 seconds Dominic Calvert-Lewin took to score against Fulham.

Not the six minutes Alex Iwobi required to score at Wolverhampton Wanderers either.

But Gylfi Sigurdsson converted Lucas Digne’s cross after only nine minutes to put Everton ahead here.

A pattern is developing of Everton hitting the front early when a response is required – and on each of those three occasions Lucas Digne has been the player providing the assist.

Calvert-Lewin’s effort at Fulham set Carlo Ancelotti’s team on their way to a first victory in four following a slip prior to November’s international break.

A late loss to West Ham United preceded Everton’s blazing start on their visit to Wolves.

They conceded an equalised in that match but emboldened by their bright start and a determination to atone for previous disappointment came again for a winning goal.

The desire to atone was perhaps stronger on this chill night in West Yorkshire than at any other time this season.

Ancelotti made no attempt to mask his disappointment following Saturday’s setback against Newcastle United and the Italian’s players evidently shared their manager’s annoyance.

Everton’s first attack was incisive and clinical and concluded with Sigurdsson sweeping in his third league goal this term.

Andre Gomes spun a ball over the top for Digne, who met little resistance form Raphinha.

Digne’s first touch created room for the cross, which skidded across the turf.

Sigurdsson arrived behind Pascal Struijk to sidefoot past Illan Meslier and set the tone for another profitable night away from Goodison Park.

Leeds came close to levelling through Ezgjan Alioski’s tremendous volley against the post.

Had that gone in, though, it felt as though Everton would have responded in kind.

As it was Calvert-Lewin doubled the advantage before half-time and Everton came up with the right answers again.


Immaculate Godfrey At Home In Middle

Ben Godfrey waited nearly four months to fill his preferred position as a centre-half in a conventional back four.

The 23-year-old excelled in an unfamiliar left-back role – where he played seven straight games before sitting out Saturday’s meeting with Newcastle United.

Godfrey confessed he’d taken himself by surprise, adapting so certainly as a full-back.

The role, however, in his own opinion, limited opportunities to utilise an expansive passing range.

Godfrey confidently stepped forwards with the ball, most notably just before the half-hour.

He did very well in the first instance, on the front foot to beat Patrick Bamford to the ball on the fringe of Everton’s box.

Godfrey took off, travelling 50 yards into Leeds territory.

The sortie appeared destined to end when three Leeds players surrounded the Everton player.

But with a neat spin and turn of pace Godfrey was gone again, slipping a pass for Alex Iwobi, whose cross flew marginally too high for Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

There was an early pass into the feet of Calvert-Lewin which had suggested a player liberated to demonstrate his ability.

His first start for Everton in this position – Godfrey has begun three matches in a defensive trio – was barely a minute old when he got in the way of a goalbound drive from Leeds forward Raphinha.

Godfrey employed his speed and anticipation to whip a ball off Bamford’s toes in the box.

He nipped in front of his man to steal possession when possible but never over committed.

The England Under-21 player, signed from Norwich City at the beginning of October, quickly gained an understanding with Yerry Mina.

South American Mina was aerially dominant, Godfrey the player scurrying around, putting a toe in and tidying up – albeit Mina did his share of tackling and intervening, too.

Godfrey inadvertently used his shoulder to create Everton’s second goal for Calvert-Lewin.

It was the player’s conviction and strength that ensured he made first contact on Gylfi Sigurdsson’s cross, however, and he deserved his assist.

When Raphinha gave Leeds a glimmer and Everton were forced onto the back foot Godfrey’s one-on-one defending came to the fore.

He shut off attacks and didn’t let anyone carry the ball past him.


Everton Show True Face

Carlo Ancelotti ordered the real Everton to turn up at Elland Road on Wednesday.

The manager admitted his team had shown “a different face” in defeat by Newcastle United four days ago.

He was prepared to cut them a little bit of slack because all the traits Ancelotti felt were missing at the weekend – spirit, endeavour, speed, fight, focus and ambition – were hallmarks of the performances which elevated Everton to the fringes of the Premier League’s top four.

Ancelotti vowed his side wouldn’t err twice and Everton backed up the Italian’s words with another victory away from home – their seventh this term.

The occasional defeat in this unpredictable season doesn’t inflict lasting scars – on condition the response is prompt.

Everton went to Wolverhampton Wanderers three weeks ago following their only other loss in the past nine games – against West Ham United – and won the match.

After losing to tonight’s opponents in late November, Ancelotti’s side won four and drew one of their next five matches.

They are efficient at stopping the bleeding and that is one of the reasons Everton remain ensconced in the pack chasing European football.

Increasingly, Everton find a way, too.

This was a perilous assignment at a stadium that hasn’t been good to Everton down the years.

Leeds started the day 11th but joint-top goalscorers outside the Premier League’s top four with 35 from 20 games.

Their pace and movement and fluidity, allied to the zealousness of their work, add up to a unique test for opponents.

At 2-0 down and second best the home side refused to give up the ghost. Once they got a sniff, they made sure Everton would have to scrap for anything they took back to Goodison Park.

Certainly, the job of overcoming Leeds doesn’t have much in common with the challenge Everton encountered on the previous trip to the White Rose county.

Doughty Sheffield United were beaten on Boxing Day and enterprising Leeds suffered the same fate nearly six weeks later – both results secured by the real Everton.