Everton tidily dispatched hosts Brighton & Hove Albion 2-0 at the Amex Stadium today, with Demarai Gray and Dominic Calvert-Lewin getting the goals. The sold-out allocation of 3,000 away fans thoroughly enjoyed the comprehensive performance from Rafa Benitez’s side as they quietened then outlasted the home supporters.
After the game, the Toffees manager was satisfied with how his side had played going into the international break.
“From the beginning the team showed good team spirit, organisation and desire to do what they had to do for the benefit of the team.
“I’m really pleased, we did well, we won, clean sheet - lots of positives.”
The first goal came at a crucial time for the game, just minutes before halftime.
“We had three-four chances in the first half to play better counter attacks, but we were missing the last pass, the last movement, we improved in the second half.
“Obviously we were talking about that, against a good team that plays well, they attack, and we needed to be sure that we defended well and launch quick counter attacks.”
Demarai Gray scored last weekend and then opened the scoring today too with a similar goal shot with speed and power at the far post. Was Benitez also pleased with what he has brought to the Blues?
“Demarai Gray has been working hard in training, he’s improving. He has more confidence and he’s pushing to play. It’s nice having players that train that way, making sure the manager selects them.”
There was some drama amongst the Everton players when they were awarded their penalty, with Richarlison insistent that he would take it himself before his teammates prevailed and Dominic Calvert-Lewin dispatched it to double the Blues advantage. What was Benitez’s perspective on what happened?
“With the penalty, (Dominic Calvert-Lewin) is the first taker, Richarlison knows he’s the second one. The main thing is that he scored, we won. We have to compete in training to see who scores more penalties, but at the moment Dominic is the first one.
“We had this conversation before and I told him if we have two penalties, the first one is Dominic’s and the second one is his.
“Obviously he wants to score goals, which is normal. I am pleased because Dominic scored, we played well and we won, so everyone has to be happy with that. Richy will understand that.”
Did Benitez think that the transfer rumours surrounding the Brazilian with a potential move to PSG was affecting his mindset?
“I don’t think so.
“That is the positive thing for me: he was trying to compete. Don’t forget he was playing in the Copa America and Olympics he came back late and he’s had no holiday and he is working really hard for the team. I am really happy for him and if we have two penalties next time, he can take the second one.”