Spirited Blues Edged By Chelsea

Everton's determined performance perhaps deserved more but ultimately ended in frustration as Chelsea edged the 2022/23 Premier League opener 1-0 at Goodison Park.

There were few clear-cut chances in this evenly-fought contest that would be decided by Jorginho's effort from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

The clash with Thomas Tuchel's side came at a cost, too, with defender Ben Godfrey taken straight to hospital with a lower leg injury early on and Yerry Mina also forced off after the break.

Manager Frank Lampard handed official Everton debuts to summer signings James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil, while fellow new recruit Ruben Vinagre was named on the bench.

Speaking ahead of the match, the Blues boss called on his players and supporters to pick up where they left off last time out at Goodison and to tap into the raw passion on display on the pitch and in the stands last term.

Evertonians played their part long before kick-off, with thousands once again congregating to welcome the team coach at the stadium.

The atmosphere cranked up a notch 10 minutes before kick-off, with a sold-out Goodison crowd finding its collective voice for a rousing rendition of Spirit of the Blues, while 10,000 blue flags waved, and banners featuring Lampard and The Beatles adorned the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End.

Everton began on the front foot, Nathan Patterson - making his Premier League debut - winning an early tackle and then a free-kick that earned a characteristically raucous cheer from supporters.

But, having lost Dominic Calvert-Lewin to a knee injury in the week leading up to this contest, the Toffees were dealt a further fitness blow less than 10 minutes in when Godfrey was hurt in a typically full-blooded challenge on Kai Havertz as he successfully recovered from a misplaced backpass.

Frustratingly, replays suggest the ball had gone out play, although the assistant referee did not raise his flag, seconds before the Everton defender sustained the injury.

Play was delayed for more than seven minutes before Godfrey was eventually taken off on a stretcher.

Chelsea won a succession of corners when play finally resumed and Jordan Pickford was called into action for the first time to keep out Mason Mount's low drive from the edge of the penalty area after Reece James' delivery was only half-cleared.

Everton, however, remained a threat in attack and the first genuine chance was fashioned on 20 minutes when Gray worked a yard of space in the left channel and produced an inviting in-swinging cross that Anthony Gordon, who was well-placed, failed to connect with.

Debutant Tarkowski, who was excellent throughout in the heart of the Blues' defence, forced Eduoard Mendy into a save at full stretch moments later with a powerful header from Vitalii Mykolenko's centre.

Lampard - without a recognised striker with Calvert-Lewin (knee) and Salomon Rondon (suspended) unavailable - cited dynamism from his chosen attacking trio of McNeil, Gray and Gordon as key to breaking down Chelsea's experienced defence.

Tuchel's three centre-backs - captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly - boasted more than 1,300 professional appearances between them heading into this one, but the Toffees threatened with what the manager demanded with two sweeping counter-attacks as the half-time interval approached.

The first was sparked by McNeil with a delightful threaded pass to Iwobi in a central position. The Nigerian then displayed instant control and released Mykolenko in the left channel, but, from the eventual cross, Gordon could not quite get enough purchase on his header to divert the ball on target.

Then, Gray triggered a two-versus-two situation after shrugging off a challenge from Azpilicueta. Unfortunately, his attempted pass to Gordon was agonisingly cut-out by Silva at the vital moment.

Chelsea had the ball in the net moments later, as Raheem Sterling prodded home the rebound following N'Golo Kante's initial shot - but it was correctly ruled out for offside.

The visitors would land a significant blow before the end of the opening period, though. Koulibaly's intelligent pass from the left flank found Chilwell in space inside the penalty area and, in a desperate last-ditch attempt to win back possession, Abdoulaye Doucoure brought down the Chelsea full-back, with referee Craig Pawson immediately pointing to the penalty spot.

Jorginho stepped up to convert from 12 yards, sending Pickford the wrong way to land a cruel blow after an incredibly tight first half.

Undeterred, Everton began the second period in positive fashion and created a flurry of half chances within the opening minutes of the restart.

The best of those fell to Gray, who found himself isolated in a one-on-one with Silva from an acute angle. The Chelsea defender managed to apply a touch on the winger's strike on goal, before the ball trickled across the face of goal with nobody on hand to convert.

Lampard shuffled his pack on the hour mark, introducing Dele - in place of McNeil after a tidy first showing in royal blue - in a bid to hit back.

An enforced change followed with 20 minutes remaining, when Mina hobbled off to be replaced by Vinagre for his maiden Everton outing.

Despite the steady flow of setbacks, Lampard's side showed admirable grit and continued to hunt for an equaliser.

Patterson telegraphed an attempted Chelsea pass on the halfway line before bursting into the final third and squaring for Dele, who opted to take a touch and, as a result, was snuffed out by stubborn Chelsea backline.

Chelsea went close to doubling their advantage late on but Mykolenko was on hand with a sublimed diving block to keep out Sterling's goal-bound effort. It was, arguably, the first clear opportunity the visitors had manufactured from open play.

But 1-0 was how it ended, with Everton left waiting to discover the extent of two injuries as attentions turn to a trip to Villa Park to face Aston Villa next weekend.