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FT: Everton 2-0 Bournemouth

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Kurt Zouma’s second-half goal and a stoppage-time strike from Dominic Calvert-Lewin earned Everton victory over Bournemouth and eased Marco Silva’s side back into the Premier League’s top half.

Everton had twice come close to scoring – Michael Keane heading against the bar and visiting defender Nathan Ake clearing from the goalline – when Zouma powered in a header from Lucas Digne’s cross on 61 minutes.

Substitute Calvert-Lewin wrapped up the three points with a fine first-time side-footed finish from Ademola Lookman's low cross.

Bournemouth’s best chances came in the first-half, with David Brooks striking the post and Jordan Pickford keeping out a Junior Stanislas free-kick.

Everton were fairly close to forging ahead three minutes before half-time. Digne recycled the ball when a corner was cleared, the Frenchman hoisting a cross into the box. Defender Keane met the delivery with a header which grazed the top of Asmir Begovic’s goalframe.

Indeed, after spending an extended period working like fury to keep Bournemouth at bay, the final 15 minutes of the opening half belonged almost exclusively to Everton. 

The tenacious Keane set the ball rolling on a move which flowed from one end of the pitch to the other just past the half hour.

Idrissa Gana Gueye took over, feeding Lookman to send in a delivery which Bernard stooped to head wide of the target.

Minutes later Bernard – temporarily stationed on the right – sent a ball to the back post which Lookman was unable bring under his spell yards from goal.

Joshua King had similar problems trying to tame a cross in the six-yard box with the game eight minutes old. Ryan Fraser retrieved Nathaniel Clyne’s cross – which nicked off Seamus Coleman’s brow en route to the far left. The Scot’s drilled delivery had too much on it for King to handle, the forward inadvertently nudging the ball into the gloves of Jordan Pickford.

Bournemouth’s clearest opening of the first 45 minutes came along just shy of the quarter-hour mark.

King bulldozed his way through the middle to find winger Stanislas, whose threaded pass released the excellent Brooks.

The young Welshman struck his effort across Pickford and watched the ball clatter the inside of the Everton’s goalkeeper’s right post.

Jefferson Lerma had earlier blasted wide from distance for Bournemouth. Gylfi Sigurdsson did likewise in the seconds before half-time, the Icelander drilling past the far post after Bernard’s jinking run from the left touchline.

King, normally so reliable in the air, could not keep his effort down following Fraser’s run and cross on 27 minutes.

If Pickford didn’t need to dirty his gloves in that instance, his contribution 60 second earlier was vital.

Stanislas’ dipping free-kick from 25 yards spat up off the greasy turf, making life very awkward for Pickford who was happy to make do with pushing the ball behind.

Bernard scurried down the left immediately after the restart to tee up Andre Gomes for a shot which flew over the top.

It looked for all the world on 49 minutes, as if Everton were set to get their noses in front.

Lerma could only return Richarlison’s header in the box straight to the forward’s feet. Richarlison drove the ball beyond Begovic. Past Fraser, too. But not centre-back Ake – who knew very little about the ball careering into his shin pad and off the Cherries’ line.

Bournemouth centre-back Steve Cook headed onto the roof of the net from a corner. And it was from a similar set-piece which Everton broke the visitors’ resistance.

Sigurdsson’s delivery from the right was unwittingly helped across field by former Blue Dan Gosling.

Digne was onto the loose ball in an instant, evading King and directing the ball to the near post. Zouma beat Begovic to the punch and planted the ball high inside the near post.

King slammed a drive into the side netting as Bournemouth sought an instant riposte.

The away team, in fact, were going hammer and tongs for an equaliser from the moment they fell behind. Pickford saved easily from another King header, while a Brooks free-kick sparked a round of penalty-box pinball which only ended when the Blues’ keeper hammered his right fist through the ball to clear.

Richarlison’s flying header from Sigurdsson’s right-wing delivery flashed past the front post, with the same pair linking again soon after. Sigurdsson’s diagonal pass sent Richarlison running down the left but shooting wide.

As the rain became heavier, so did the challenges. The more fractious the action on the pitch, though, the more impassioned the roars from the Goodison Park stands.

The announcement of five minutes' stoppage time prompted a few anxious mumbles. But Keane defended brilliantly to foil Dan Gosling and, with Yerry Mina on as a third centre-half, Everton won a string of crucial headers from Bournemouth set-pieces. And, the the game's final act, Lookman surged forward onto the counter.

With the majority inside Goodison probably expecting him to head for the corner, Lookman instead fed Calvert-Lewin, who finished exquisitely inside Begovic's right post. Anxiety gave way to relief and unmistakable glee.

French Connection

Kurt Zouma and Lucas Digne go back a long way. Teammates in France’s age-group teams, they were Under-20 World Cup winners for their country in 2013.

Now the two defenders have this afternoon at Goodison Park to add to their history together.

It seemed as if Digne might have passed up a presentable shooting opportunity when he opted to drive with the ball after alighting on possession down the left.

The left-back has exhibited a nose for goal of late – he scored three times last month – but here, perhaps influenced by the presence of Josh King on his shoulder, opted to head for the byline.

King, to all intents and purposes, did a pretty good job of forcing Digne wide.

The Everton player, though, wrapped his polished left boot around the ball, inviting Zouma, charging in at the front post, to head home.

It was a first Everton goal for Zouma. Along with the three bagged by Digne in December, Bernard opening his account for the Club last week, and one scored by Yerry Mina on Boxing Day, it adds up to Everton’s players heeding their manager’s call for goalscoring contributions from all over the pitch.

Keane For A Scrap

Michael Keane was given the day off last week and returned here in the mood to get stuck in. It was a good job, too.

Bournemouth’s Josh King has the build of a prize heavyweight and could never be accused of not punching his weight.

Keane would have been braced for a physical battle, he knows King from the period the two had as teammates at Manchester United and was swarming all over the striker as soon as he had the chance.

Keane’s confidence in the air grew visibly as he got on top of his Norwegian opponent. He climbed athletically and authoritatively to meet Lucas Digne’s cross, stood up from the left, shortly before half-time. The centre-half’s effort clipped the woodwork.

He allowed himself a moment to release his frustration, retreated and towered above King to win the aerial duel from Asmir Begovic’s goalkick.

Keane didn’t reserve his combative approach solely for King. The former Burnley man – playing in front of England boss Gareth Southgate – won pretty much everything that came his way in the air.

He was robust in the tackle, in one instant fairly barrelling through a Dan Gosling tackle before passing from defence.

With the temperature dropping and the rain sheeting in sideways, this was an afternoon for your your centre-backs to come to the party.

Keane and Kurt Zouma did precisely that – bagging Everton’s first clean sheet since November into the bargain. Keane was on it until the last, too, following Gosling's run and blocking the midfielder's shot in stoppage time, before rising to clear the subsequent corner.  And Zouma went and scored the winner.

Bernard’s Turn

We trained our eyes on Ademola Lookman last time out. Only fair this week, then, to flag up the contribution of Bernard on the opposite flank.

The Brazilian scored his first Everton goal against Lincoln City eight days ago, his spellbinding performance prompting Leighton Baines to compliment Bernard’s ‘high football IQ’.

Full-back Baines forged an instant understanding with his left-sided ally and, here, Bernard was in cahoots with Lucas Digne from fairly early on. 

This was the 12th match the duo has started together – the 18th game in all they’ve been on the pitch at the same time – and with the match 15 minutes old the two left-siders combined smartly to win Everton’s first corner of the match.

Bernard was already demonstrating his mobility, coming in off his touchline to receive possession from Jordan Pickford’s precise knock downfield, before feeding Lookman for a shot.

Everton’s widemen are afforded a degree of licence by their manager, Marco Silva allowing his wingers to drift wherever they might drift blood. Accordingly, Lokman and Bernard interchange an awful lot.

It was from Lookman’s cross that Bernard stopped to head off target just past the half hour. Minutes later – and not long after Bernard had pooped up deep on the right to thud a ball down the line for Richarlison, Lookman was bombing to the back post and meeting a delivery from his fellow wide player.

When Idrissa Gana Gueye dropped back to collect the ball he could, without exception, raise his head to see the South American making himself available nearby.

Bernard actually started the game with a fabulous piece of defending, diligently tracking Junior Stanislas all the way back into his own box to intervene when Ryan Fraser crossed from the left inside the opening 60 seconds. It was a piece of work to suggest this was a footballer switched onto his job.

Next came a neat exchange of passes with Andre Gomes, Bernard returning the ball infield after the Portuguese’s exquisite round-the-corner pass tight to the left touchline.

Bernard was at the vanguard of Everton’s attempts to get their noses in front straight after the break.

His driving run and cut back created a shooting opportunity for Andre Gomes. Next thing, Bernard was bang in the centre of the penalty box straining – fruitlessly – to reach a delivery fizzed in from the right.

The ground rose as one when Bernard made way for Theo Walcott on 78 minutes. For a performance packed with skill, courage and industry he richly deserved his ovation.




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