The Toffees raced into the lead inside the opening minute through Dominic Calvert-Lewin and, after Bobby Decordova-Reid had briefly levelled, went into the break holding a commanding 3-1 lead thanks to DCL’s second and Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first Everton goal.
However, the Toffees failed to press home that advantage in the second half at Craven Cottage, dropping deep and allowing Fulham back into the game.
They had a let off when Ivan Cavaleiro blazed a penalty over the bar, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s deflected strike set up a nervy finish, with the Toffees hanging on for their first victory in five league games.
It was the kind of topsy-turvy match we have grown familiar with when watching the Blues this season. They are irresistible going forward at times, but look equally soft at the back.
Speaking after the game, a relieved Ancelotti said there was still plenty to work on when they get back to Finch Farm:
“The most important part of the game was to be back to winning.
“We won, playing a fantastic first half. The second half we had more difficulties with the physical aspect
“We lost energy in the second half, the players were tired, I changed to put more fresh legs on the pitch but we lost a little bit of quality and we had to defend as a result but in the end it went well.
“We have to improve [defensively] for sure. We were not so compact and not so close with the line. We have time this week to work on this.”
There were plenty of positives to take from the performance, not least two more goals for Calvert-Lewin to move to the top of the Premier League scoring charts.
He benefitted from the service provided by Lucas Digne and Alex Iwobi, who were deployed as wing backs in a 5-3-2 formation for the first time.
Ancelotti, though, says Calvert-Lewin’s attacking instincts means he is ready to pounce in the box regardless of who is providing the crosses:
“It’s true that we have wing backs that push a lot, Digne put in a lot of crosses, Dom scored, Doucoure scored, but the fact is Dom is ready in the box at this moment.”
Iwobi in particular stood out for The Toffees in that right wing-back role. The former Arsenal player has struggled for consistency since his move to Goodison, but turned in one of his best performances in an Everton shirt so far:
“Alex Iwobi played well, like the others played really well. I am pleased for him. In that wing-back position he can show his quality.”