Everton Hit Four For Dream Lampard Start

For a clue as to how this occasion unfolded, consider that as we reached 90 minutes, Frank Lampard turned to the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End, lifted his hands above his head and applauded the supporters singing the new manager’s name.

Yes, this was a very auspicious start indeed for Lampard, an afternoon to savour for Evertonians who could look all over the pitch and see reasons for optimism.

Anthony Gordon was exceptional, once more, a constant thorn in Brentford’s side with his direct running and harrying and quick, incisive passing.

Everton, playing with three at the back, were solid in defence and busy and ambitious going forward.

They rained shots on Brentford’s goal – 14 at final count – and scored four times.

Yerry Mina headed the opener on 31 minutes after coming on for the injury Ben Godfrey and Richarlison appeared to have Everton cruising with a poked finish following a splendid Allan through ball three minutes after half-time.

Brentford scored a penalty on 54 minutes, Ivan Toney converting after being fouled by Jordan Pickford.

But, in another encouraging development, there was no Everton wobble.

No, Lampard’s team summoned an irresistible response to match into the FA Cup fifth round.

Mason Holgate restored the two-goal advantage with a close-range header on 62 minutes and Andros Townsend came on to smote a drive into the bottom right corner.

Goodison rejoiced, Lampard circled the field to thank supporters in every corner of the stadium and a new era was under way.

Everton were hit by an early blow. Godfrey, operating in the back three utilised by Lampard, pulled up with nobody around him and was replaced by Mina.

What a kick in the teeth for Lampard, in the opening knockings of his first match.

But how well Everton and their new boss adapted.

On came Mina to play on the right of that defensive trio, Mason Holgate moving to the left.

Truth be told, Mina had been lightly worked defensively when he made a telling impact in the Brentford penalty area.

David Raya, the visiting goalkeeper, did very well to turn over a rising drive from Andre Gomes, who shot from distance following neat approach play involving Vitalii Mykolenko and Gordon.

Nothing Raya could do at the ensuing corner, however.

Demarai Gray aimed the dead ball at the edge of the six-yard box, central to goal. And he got his angles spot on.

Mina strode forwards, laying waste to the defensive bodies in his vicinity, to power a header into Raya’s left corner.

The chants of ‘Everton, Everton, Everton’ – simple but stirring at the same time when voiced by 35,000 people – were ear-splitting.

What wretched luck for Godfrey, though, He’d begun brightly, accelerating out of defence with the ball at his feet, before exchanging a one-two with Mykolenko on Everton’s left.

Godfrey eventually slid a through ball for Richarlison, who dragged his shot beyond the far post.

Richarlison was operating as Everton’s targetman in this formation, with Gray and Gordon interchanging either side.

And five minutes had elapsed when the hosts pieced together a lovely passage of play that ended with Richarlison pleading for a penalty.

Gray collected Michael Keane’s pass in a central position, the next ball going to Allan, who fed Gordon. His cross searched out Richarlison, the Brazilian gathering possession with his back to goal and tumbling under pressure but finding no sympathy from referee Michael Oliver.

Gordon, restored to the starting line-up after playing as substitute against Aston Villa a fortnight ago, was showing up tremendously.

The 20-year-old buzzed about, routinely swapping sides with Gray, an elusive presence. Brentford struggled to get near him. There were a number of low crosses – Gray supplied a few, too – desperately intercepted by defensive bodies.

Gordon went for the jugular on 25 minutes, skipping in from the right but applying the dip to a sot too late to force Raya into a save.

Everton had a handful of opportunities to extend their lead before the break.

Richarlison’s blood was up when he advanced a minute or two after Mina’s goal, the forward ignoring the better positioned pair of Allan and Gordon either side of him for a shot that travelled way off target.

The 24-year-old isn’t one to be deterred. He was off balance and falling away when he fired over right footed after good work from Gray and Gordon.

And Richarlison couldn’t believe his misfortune when Kristoffer Ajer made a fabulous interception to prevent Gomes’ straight pass along the floor reaching the striker.

Pickford was barely called on in the opening half, save for a hurried clearance from Seamus Coleman’s back pass – until minute 39.

That was when Sergi Canos tried a curler from 18 yards and Pickford took off to his left to make the stop at the cost of a corner.

Given the flow of the contest – and the willingness of Richarlison – there was little surprise about events three minutes after half-time.

Kudos to Allan, too. The former Napoli player collected the ball in a congested area and duly spied his fellow Brazilian’s run into the penalty box.

Allan’s pass was on the money, lofted to eliminate the fast-retreating Pontus Jansson and perfect for Richarlison.

Raya hared from his line to make Richarlison’s next decision a simple one. The Everton player was always reaching he ball first and with a first-time prod he guided it into an unguarded net.

To most observers it seemed Everton were on easy street.

Not so.

Brentford, hitherto in their attacking shells, emerged with some conviction.

Vitaly Janelt picked out Toney’s run to the right of the area. The cross was thrashed in low but Mads Roerslev, sliding in, couldn’t connect.

Christian Norgaard was next with the cute ball forward, Toney the recipient once more, trying to skirt round Pickford but clipped by the Everton number one.

It was the fifth penalty awarded to Brentford against Everton, against none for the Blues.

The second this season, too, and the outcome was the same as a couple of months back, the uber-cool Toney planting his kick inside the left post.

Most people watching on were braced for a Brentford rally.

But, another reminder soon after the first, football is anything other than predictable.

The incessant Gordon robbed an apologetic Mads Sorensen close to the Brentford goalline, the visitors eventually smuggling the ball behind for a corner.

Gray was on set-piece duties again, sending over an outswinger that Sorensen, bidding to make amends, met with a header.

The defender, however, succeeded only in directing the ball back towards his own goal. The news for Sorensen didn’t get any better there. Holgate was in the ideal position to take advantage, stooping to convert from six yards.

Gordon and Mykolenko took their leave to roaring ovations, Gordon serenaded by all four sides of a giddy ground.

Jonjoe Kenny and Andros Townsend were the two players introduced.

And it was Townsend, with a trademark, swatted low blast from 18 yards, who put the seal on an uproarious afternoon as the game entered stoppage time.

Mina Launches Lampard Reign In Style

The odds on Yerry Mina scoring the opening goal of Frank Lampard’s Everton reign would have lengthened somewhat when the teamsheet dropped pre-match.

Perhaps mindful of Mina’s recent trip to South America for international duty, Lampard left the Colombian out of his starting XI.

An injury for Ben Godfrey, however, meant Mina didn’t have to wait long to impress his new boss.

The imposing centre-half was on inside the opening 15 minutes and not long after the half hour he delivered what Goodison – and his new boss – had been craving.

Everton were comfortable at this point, scarcely troubled defensively and controlling the rhythm of the game.

Clear opportunities were the only thing missing – but Andre Gomes’ piledriver, tipped over by David Raya, was indicative of a home side pushing at a door creaking at the hinges.

Demarai Gray whipped in the corner – a horrible one for defenders, arriving on the fringes of the six-yard box as if fired from a cannon – and Mina barrelled in to do the rest.

Goalkeeper Raya could only watch the ball race past on his left side.

Gray turned round for a look at the away fans who’d been in his ear – a polite look, easily interpreted as ‘Anything to say about that?’ – while his teammates converged on the ecstatic Mina.

It was a notable goal for all sorts of reasons.

This was the first time Everton opened the scoring in a game since October.

Lampard’s first goal as a boss since 24 January 2021, too.

It was on that same date last year that Mina last netted – concidentally in an FA Cup fourth round victory over Sheffield Wednesday.

Plenty of significance attached to Mina’s strike, then.

But when the dust settles, it will be remembered as the goal that laid the platform for Lampard to enjoy a triumphant start as Everton manager.

Mykolenko In The Groove

Vitalli Mykolenko was restored to the left-wing-back position he occupied on his Everton debut in round three of this competition at Hull City.

The Ukranian, playing his first home game for the Club, surfaced in an attacking position very early, trading passes with the surging Ben Godfrey, who created the opening chance for Richarlison.

It was the archetypal baptism of fire for Mykolenko against Hull, a frenetic Cup tie against Championship opposition with very little to lose. Screened live on terrestrial television for an audience by and large rooting for the lower-level team, too.

He grew into that match and, it is worth remembering, completed a goalline clearance that eventually helped Everton over the line.

Mykolenko played at Norwich City three weeks ago – on the left of a back four – but in keeping with the occasion, this felt like the real dawn of the 22-year-old’s Everton career.

Sure, the player will have more to do defensively as he acclimatises to Premier League football.

But here was an opportunity to show up offensively and Mykolenko grabbed it.

The defender, signed last month from Dynamo Kiev, willingly sped forwards, linking up especially well with Andre Gomes and Antony Gordon.

Mykolenko was involved as Everton applied increasing pressure on Brentford’s goal around the half hour.

He traded passes with Gomes, whose longer ranger was tipped behind for the corner that Mina met so emphatically to bullet Everton in front.

Mykolenko was unruffled and composed an economical in possession. Brentford, meanwhile, got very little change out of Everton down the visitors’ right.

This was a first look in the flesh at Mykolenko – the first of five January additions – for thousands of Evertonians.

When the player’s number went up with 17 minutes remaining, Goodison collective rose and applause rolled around this old stadium.

Mykolenko is beginning to look at home and, by the looks and sounds of it, he’s very welcome.

United Blues

If unity has been the watchword at Goodison Park this week, then here was the evidence of a club pulling together.

Everton’s players were greeted enthusiastically when they emerged to warm-up, while Frank Lampard – who joined his team on the field for their final preparations – disappeared back down the tunnel pre-match to a stirring ovation.

The manager’s official introduction was universally acclaimed and – after all the pomp – Everton played with coherence and fluidity.

All that mattered, counselled Lampard ahead of the game, was a result to match the encouraging signs the new boss detected in his opening week on the training ground.

Confidence had “taken a hit” as a consequence of recent form, admitted Lampard, who spoke of delivering positive messages to stoke an uplift in belief.

Winning, however, is the best cure of them all. Everton scored the first goal in a game for the first time in more than three months and built on their advantage.

When Brentford threatened a comeback, the response was emphatic. Every box, essentially, was ticked.

Everton banked more than a place in the FA Cup fifth-round with this victory.

They go to Newcastle United for a crucial Premier League match on Tuesday feeling very good about themselves and accompanied by a platform to create much-needed momentum.

And with everybody, from top to bottom, in it together, to boot.