Under the watchful eyes of Evertonians for the first time in nine months, Everton delivered a sterling performance to make them, and those not among the lucky 2,000, feel bursting with pride.
Chelsea were always going to provide a stern test for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, and certainly when Everton had won just one in seven with no clean sheet in three months and Frank Lampard’s free-scoring side unbeaten since September.
But they were no match for the Toffees, who despite starting with four centre-backs and the much-maligned Gylfi Sigurdsson, began the game in confident mood, limiting Chelsea’s attacks to a minimum.
Sigurdsson, who delivered a much more assured performance in midfield than in recent weeks, proved the match-winner after Edouard Mendy’s foul on Dominic Calvert-Lewin led to an Evertonian penalty, which the Icelander coolly converted midway through the first half.
Everton could have had a second spot-kick after the interval when Calvert-Lewin was again brought down, this time by Ben Chilwell. but VAR overruled referee Jon Moss’ decision, correctly adjudging Calvert-Lewin to have been slightly offside.
Chelsea may have dominated the play, but you’d be a cold-hearted cynic not to feel Everton deserved the points, if only the way a defence so porous of late put in such a miserly, uncompromising showing.
Michael Keane was particularly solid at the heart of the back line alongside Yerry Mina, while makeshift left-back Ben Godfrey and Mason Holgate showed again what promising talents they are, and just how much both seem to simply love defending.
Pickford was far less erratic than has been the case recently, not having many saves to make thanks to faultless back line but doing what he had to do with little fuss - namely a point-blank save from former Everton man Kurt Zouma in the first half.
And ahead of them, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucouré never stopped running in midfield, with Alex Iwobi especially providing arguably Everton’s most dangerous attacking outlet on the right.
Above all else, as fans began to return to Goodison, this performance felt quintessentially Everton. With their backs against the wall at times, Ancelotti’s men stood firm where recently they may have wilted, and the choruses of chanting, especially from the 1,500 in the Gwladys Street, certainly spurred them on.
Ahead of a testing festive period, with Leicester, Arsenal, Sheffield United and both Manchester clubs to come before the year is out, this was just the tonic for a side who looked to sliding back into mid-table no man’s land.
Back up to seventh with this win, Ancelotti’s men have a platform from which to build again.