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Everton 2-3 Brighton: Instant reaction - Toffees slump to miserable defeat

Here we go again....

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Everton only have two problems at present - they can’t attack and they can’t defend. Apart from that it’s all fine.

OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh. They showed plenty of attacking spirit against Brighton, but a litany of defensive errors led to their downfall against a Seagulls side who had never won at Goodison Park in their history.

It’s difficult to know where to start, other than that the team’s failings have not gone away with the end of 2021. If anything it’s got worse, and a relegation battle is now a real possibility.

The good news was Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s return to the starting line-up for the first time since August. The puzzling news was Seamus Coleman being deployed at left wing-back with Lucas Digne only on the bench after his dispute with Rafa Benitez.

The Spaniard really doesn’t help himself at times and this just supplied more ammo for supporters still unhappy with his position in the Toffees dugout, with Coleman looking predictably awkward on his weaker foot.

The 17-day break since the Chelsea game allowed us all to briefly forget how frustrating this Everton side can be.

We only needed three minutes to be reminded here though.

Joel Veltman’s cross was nodded down by Neal Maupay into the path of the onrushing Alexis Mac Allister, who poked the ball beyond Jordan Pickford.

New year, same old Everton.

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Another legacy of 2021 was awful defending from set pieces, and this continued here.

A corner from the Brighton left was flicked on at the near post and Dan Burn was left totally unmarked to nod home from six yards.

So infuriatingly simple. What on earth do they do at Finch Farm?

Look at the state of that:

Everton v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images

They needed some luck after that and they got it when Enock Mwepu inexplicably barged Anthony Gordon in the back for a penalty. Calvert-Lewin stepped up....and clipped the bar.

If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

New signing Vitaly Mykolenko, sat in the stands, must have wondered if he had kept the receipt.

Anthony Gordon at least showed a bit of spirit and fight. As well as winning the penalty he also put in a dangerous cross from the left byline towards Calvert-Lewin, and then went on a mazy run into the area before shooting tamely at Sanchez.

The biggest cheer of the first half from the home crowd came when Digne trotted out to warm up. It’s clear what side they are on in the Digne/Rafa bust-up.

Those ironic cheers then turned to boos as Maupay came close to firing in a third. It was yet another shambolic display and the fans made their feelings known (again) after the half-time whistle.

FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-BRIGHTON Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

You’d think there would have been changes at half-time, but no, Rafa sent the same XI out for the second half.

He may argue that was justified by an early goal in the second half, but it was more down to another huge slice of luck. The lively Gordon firing in a shot that deflected off former Liverpool man Adam Lallana and beyond a wrongfooted Sanchez.

Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
FBL-ENG-PR-EVERTON-BRIGHTON Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The goal at least energised Everton as a fizzing shot from Demarai Gray was parried away by Sanchez. That in turn awoke the supporters from their slumber. Both have to be on the same hymn sheet if the Toffees are to be successful at Goodison.

Allan, who has yet to score for Everton, had a fizzing 30-yard effort well tipped over by Sanchez - but moments later it was three.

Holgate made a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Maupay but Leandro Trossard kept his composure to collect and pick out Mac Allister, who blasted the ball into the top corner from outside the box.

It was a wonderful finish, but the defending in the build-up once again left a lot to be desired. The first time Brighton have scored three all season.

Oh for Everton to have 11 Anthony Gordons - the 20-year-old, head and shoulders above everyone in a blue shirt, firing low into the corner from Jonjoe Kenny’s pull back.

They huffed and puffed for the remaining 15 minutes but rarely tested Sanchez. Salomon Rondon blasting into row ZZ of the Gwladys Street from 15 yards out summing things up.