Everton traveled to West Midlands to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, looking to get back to winning ways while continuing their good recent away form in the Premier League. Injuries to key forwards Dominic Calvert-Lewin (out) and Richarlison (bench) meant an experimental line-up for Carlo Ancelotti, but the veteran manager would have been very relieved to have key orchestrator Lucas Digne back in the squad after an almost miraculously quick recovery from a serious ankle injury that had required surgery to repair damaged ligaments.
The Blues got off to the perfect start in this one though, with Alex Iwobi the scorer of a wonderful team goal. James Rodriguez, as he has done so often this season already, spread the ball out wide to Lucas Digne whose delivery into the box was pinpoint for the Nigerian forward to slot home coolly in just the sixth minute of the game.
Everton would have been prepared for a siege mentality in this game, much as they have in previous games against top six sides, but were only able to hold out out the hosts for a few minutes as they were undone by a setpiece.
A corner was only somewhat cleared and Rayan Ait Nouri was able to make a run into the box before crossing, with an unmarked Ruben Neves on hand to slam home with Jordan Pickford having no chance.
Pickford had an up and down game, failing to properly clear a Leander Dendoncker shot that looked to have been deflected on it’s way through before getting down smartly to stop a shot from Fabio Silva.
Alex Iwobi definitely looked up for this one, making lively runs and giving his teammates outlets for the ball whenever they had control while being a presence defensively as well when needed.
After an end-to-end start the last few minutes of the half were played at a more sedate pace as the two sides went into the break tied at 1-1 and Ancelotti likely the more satisfied manager of the two sides.
The second half started with Abdoulaye Doucoure going in the book for a foul on Pedro Neto, and it seemed to limit the striker for the rest of the game though he stayed on the pitch for the duration. Mason Holgate was also yellow carded for a sliding challenge on Ruben Neves, who dusted himself off and almost scored from a pass from the resulting freekick, but his shot was just wide.
Everton were in two banks of four with Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez ‘up top’, but the lack of a focal point upfront showed as the Blues struggled to hold on to the ball as the Wolves swarmed. Ancelotti threw on Andrea Gomes and Richarlison in an attempt to gain a foothold in the hosts’ half of the pitch, but got a goal from an unlikely source.
James’ corner from the right was only half-cleared by Dendoncker, but Gomes was able to land a pinpoint ball back into the box for Michael Keane to rise highest and head home to give the Toffees an unlikely lead, that they would not relinquish even in the face of tremendous pressure from Wolves.
Everton under Ancelotti once again showed they fight hardest when billed as underdogs with all the forces massed against them, gutting out a huge win and three points against a Wolves side they have struggled to compete with in previous games.