Blues Beaten At The Bridge

A first-half Cole Palmer hat-trick inflicted a miserable night on Everton as Chelsea ran out 6-0 winners at Stamford Bridge.

Despite an impressive start from Sean Dyche’s men, which saw Beto go close from Seamus Coleman’s cross, Palmer’s 13th-minute opener was the catalyst for a first 45 minutes to forget as the England international netted a treble. Nicolas Jackson also scored before the break, before Palmer grabbed his fourth of the night from the penalty spot with 25 minutes remaining.

A dire outing for Everton was compounded after skipper Coleman was forced off at the break with a knock, while fellow defender Jarrad Branthwaite limped off shortly before Chelsea’s fifth goal, followed by substitute Nathan Patterson late on.

With Dominic Calvert-Lewin missing out on the clash in west London with a tight hamstring, Beto led the Blues’ attack as one of two changes from the XI that beat Burnley nine days earlier, Amadou Onana recovering from a groin niggle to replace Andre Gomes in midfield.

After a teasing free-kick from Palmer that flashed across the six-yard box with barely 60 seconds on the clock, Everton threatened from a set piece of their own moments later, Dwight McNeil swinging a high ball into the area for James Tarkowski to nod across goal before Chelsea cleared.

Everton’s pressing intent was evident on eight minutes as McNeil relentlessly pursued Malo Gusto, forcing the right-back to put the ball straight out for a corner.

It was even better for the visitors seconds later when James Garner robbed Gusto of the ball, allowing Everton to work an opening down the right which saw Ashley Young tee up Coleman whose cross was put just over by Beto’s first-time finish.

Having started so well, though, it was the hosts who found a 13th-minute opener from the in-form Palmer, the England international showing great skill to get past Branthwaite, playing a one-two with Jackson and curling a finish beyond Jordan Pickford.

And it got worse for Everton five minutes later, Mykhailo Mudryk darting into the area and cutting back for Jackson to drill a finish that was parried by Pickford, only for Palmer to react first and head home the rebound.

The contest was effectively ended just before the half-hour mark as Palmer read Pickford’s attempted pass to Onana and looped a first-time finish from 30 yards into the net.

Everton thought they had a route back into the match on 35 minutes as Young’s pinpoint cross from the right was superbly headed home by Beto - but the frustration grew as the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.

To their credit, the Blues continued to look a threat, Beto turning in the box and smacking a low drive into the arms of Djordje Petrovic.

But despite Everton’s attacking intent, Chelsea looked a threat every time they went forward and it was 4-0 before the break as Jackson was allowed to control the ball in the area, turn and fire past Pickford via a Branthwaite deflection.

Dyche made three changes for the second half, Coleman - who looked to have suffered a knock - Onana and Garner making way for Patterson, Gomes and Jack Harrison.

And a fourth substitution was needed heading to the hour mark when Branthwaite limped off to be replaced by Michael Keane.

The fifth goal came on 64 minutes, Abdoulaye Doucoure bringing down Palmer in the area, with the forward picking himself up to slot home the resulting penalty for his fourth of the night.

And a match Everton will be desperate to put behind them going into the home clash with Nottingham Forest on Sunday was ended in stoppage-time as substitute Alfie Gilchrist banged in a rebound after Pickford had parried Ben Chilwell’s shot.