Frank Lampard says Everton delivered a "special performance", founded on the desire to “fight for the fans”, in beating Leeds United 3-0 on Saturday.
Everton began quickly, opened the scoring after 10 minutes and didn’t give their opponents any cause for optimism on a breathless afternoon at Goodison Park.
Manager Lampard’s side recorded their first clean sheet in 13 matches, subduing a Leeds team that scored three goals in each of its previous two away matches.
Seamus Coleman got the ball rolling with a close-range header – and the captain attracted notable praise from Lampard, who called Coleman a “symbol of the Club”, following a buccaneering performance on the right of defence.
Centre-half Michael Keane headed Everton two in front after 23 minutes and, with 12 minutes remaining, the superb Anthony Gordon deflected home Richarlison’s low drive.
“It was an incredible afternoon and what we did today was something special in terms of the performance,” said Lampard, who was able to start striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin for the first time as Everton boss.
“It showed an attitude and aggression and work rate and I was so proud of that first half.
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DEPARTING MAIER & SEVECKE THANK BLUES
“I haven’t seen a team that wants to give everything like that, pressing from the front and backing each other up, for a long time.
“That engaged the fans – and when the fans are engaged, anything can happen.
“Seamus sets the standard every day, everyone told me about Seamus, what a person and symbol of the Club he is.
“What a great lad, he is humble and hard-working and has great quality.
“But let’s not just call him a good lad, the way he defended and joined in the attack and scored his goal was spot on.
“The Club are lucky to have him. We need people who are references of the Club, players the fans can look at and say, ‘That is what we are all about’.
“Seamus is that.”
Everton closed within one point of Leeds in 15th position following their victory and boast a game in hand over the Yorkshire club.
Lampard’s side increased the gap to 17th-placed Newcastle United to four points, too, and moved within striking distance of a handful of teams ahead of them.
Coleman set Everton on their way to three points when he launched himself at a loose ball after Donny van de Beek’s low delivery was diverted back across goal by a defensive leg.
“I thought Donny van de Beek was great,” said Lampard, who also gave a home debut off the bench to Dele and introduced Anwar El Ghazi for a first Everton appearance.
“To play like that at home – his calmness, work rate and intelligence were great.
“Dele was active when he came on. There will be more from them both. They are great additions and I believe they will get better.”
Everton’s second goal was scored by Keane on his 150th Premier League appearance for Everton.
The defender, who moved to Goodison from Burnley in summer 2017, leapt to meet a Gordon corner with a header that flew past Illan Meslier in Leeds’ goal.
“You have to be at your best defensively against Leeds, they stretch you and create one-v-ones, and Michael was great,” said Lampard, whose team go to Southampton next Saturday.
“Michael is a good lad and wants to do well. He has all the attributes and, sometimes, people need confidence and a reboot.
“We can enjoy tonight and Evertonians should – but they can know we will get down to work very quickly to try to replicate this going forward.”
The game concluded to a backdrop of jubilant Evertonians singing Lampard’s name for the second week running following the ex-Chelsea boss’s debut victory over Brentford seven days ago.
“That support means everything,” continued Lampard.
“Evertonians want a team that is an image of themselves, they want honesty and determination and the quality to win, because of how passionate they are.
“It's humbling to have the fans supporting me so well.
“Individually, you go through the team and there's ability in there. It was about being a strong unit and fighting for the fans.
“The table looks slightly better… but I'm just so proud of the performance. That made me really happy but now we need to build on it.”