Everton hosted Leeds United on their return to the Premier League today at Goodison Park, with the Blues looking to add another win after picking up the three points at Fulham on Sunday.
It was the visitors that got off to the better start though, looking very fluent with their passing as they probed the three-man Everton backline. Within the opening quarter of the hour there were at least three good scoring chances, with Leeds getting two and goalkeeper Illan Meslier saving very well from point-blank range from Abdoulaye Doucoure.
As the game got past the twenty-minute mark though, Leeds kicked it up a notch further. First Jordan Pickford had to make an excellent kick-save from Patrick Bamford after more poor defensive work from the Blues. Then minutes later Pickford had to save brilliantly from a Raphinha header with Ben Godfrey following up with a goalline clearance from a shot inside the box.
If you though things were already exciting it only ramped up as we got closer to the halftime whistle. Everton scored twice, with James and Richarlison both finding the back of the net, and both ruled out for offside. Then Leeds missed a succession of chances, a combination of saves from Pickford, the woodwork and shots fizzing just wide as we went into the break somehow still goalless.
The second half started with the same breathless pace the first ended, with both sides again coming close to scoring in the first ten minutes but still it stayed 0-0.
Carlo Ancelotti made the first moves of the second half, bringing on Fabian Delph and Andre Gomes to try and exert some control of the ball. The end-to-end action seemed to come to a stop after that, with both sides holding the ball in spells.
However, with just twenty minutes to play, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock finally. Godfrey was a second late in closing down Raphinha in a central position about twenty-five yards out, and the Brazilian curled it very well into the far post through the defender’s legs, with Pickford well beaten.
Ancelotti threw on Bernard as well in a desperate attempt to find the leveller, but all it did was to add another blue shirt into the midfield soup and the game petered out with Leeds doing well to hold on for their first win at Goodison in three decades.
The final whistle duly came and the Blues loss was confirmed, ensuring they will be climbing no higher than sixth when a win today would have put them in the top three.