In many ways, this was going to be one of Everton’s biggest of the season. How would Everton respond to the humiliation last week in the derby loss in the FA Cup? Tensions that have been simmering in the fanbase for years seem to have boiled over this week with fans showing up at the gates of Finch Farm, and a number of season ticket holders have claimed they wouldn’t be at the game today as, in their own words, they’ve have enough.
The Toffees responded well though, starting the game strong and had a good shout for a penalty in the first five minutes (see replay in the live blog), but VAR once again proved to be not favourable to the Blues as Theo Walcott was adjudged to have been pulled back by the shirt fairly.
It was a surreal Goodison Park for most of the first half as the supporters stayed mostly quiet even though the Blues dominated possession and chances created. Bernard was masterful on the ball, cutting in from his position on the left wing to dictate proceedings as an attacking midfielder while Lucas Digne stepped up into the space created.
After orchestrating most of the best moves of the half, it was no surprise to see the diminutive Brazilian involved in the opener. Gylfi Sigurdsson intercepted the ball in the middle and found Richarlison, who spread it wide for Bernard to give it to Digne. The fullback’s low cross came to Richarlison again, and his fantastic turn and shot gave the visitor’s no chance.
In case you missed Richarlison's goal pic.twitter.com/MXK8ODh6tK— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 11, 2020
The referee continued to be unmoved in the second half by Everton’s plight in the face of a physical but clumsy Brighton side, with Mason Holgate first bowled over in the visitor’s box, then former Evertonian Shane Duffy taking down Dominic Calvert-Lewin from a cross into the box.
The visitors made an effort in the second half to get back into the game and it made for a much more even passage of play. There was even some late drama as the Blues got a second goal from DCL, but the striker not only had the goal chalked off he was also given a yellow card for an inadvertent handball.
Ancelotti decided to go defensive for the last twenty or so minutes, throwing on Fabian Delph, Seamus Coleman and Yerry Mina as he looked to consolidate the lead he had. It made for a nervy last few minutes for the Goodison faithful as the Blues withdrew into their shell and gave Brighton all the possession.