Carlo Ancelotti opens his Everton account with a win
Burnley unlucky to leave empty handed after defending solidly for most of the gam
Everton’s new manager Carlo Ancelotti on the line for the first time at Goodison Park. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Everton 1 Burnley 0
A late Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal enabled Carlo Ancelotti to open his Everton account with a win, which by the end of a long afternoon was all anyone in blue really cared about. The striker did not have the best of games, and this certainly was not the best of games, but three points and a second successive clean sheet while not playing all that well at least gives the Italian something on which to build.
Burnley were slightly unlucky to leave empty handed after defending solidly for most of the game, but after a late winner of their own at Bournemouth last weekend they know very well that 0-0 is a dangerous scoreline, and their own attacking efforts did not amount to enough to earn a share of the points.
The most entertaining aspect of an unremarkable first half was Ancelotti’s range of shrugs, expressive gestures and eye-rolls on the touchline as he pondered some pretty ordinary football and probably started to wonder how soon he would be able to lead Everton up the table. Unfortunately this practised theatricality was mainly for the benefit of those watching on television.
The spectators who had paid to get in had to be content with Everton’s attempt to copy Burnley’s tactics by humping the ball into the box at every possible opportunity, even though Calvert-Lewin is a hesitant finisher at best and Bernard lacks the inches to fight for headers with players such as James Tarkowski.
Everton had more possession and shots on target than their opponents without ever putting Burnley under serious pressure. On the occasions when they did break through, with Mason Holgate in the opening minutes and Djibril Sidibé after half an hour, Nick Pope was equal to the task of keeping out goal-bound efforts. What Everton need, if they are going to persist with the aerial approach, is a big centre forward in the Chris Wood mould, although when Ashley Westwood picked him out with a well-flighted free kick the striker reached the ball before any of the home defenders but put his header well over the bar.
When the second half began Wood showed tenacity in beating Yerry Mina on the floor, only to find no one on the end of his cut-back across the face of goal. Fabian Delph managed to find Calvert-Lewin with a cross a couple of minutes later, though he was unable to generate sufficient power in his header to trouble Pope. Likewise when a Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick arrowed its way onto Mina’s forehead midway through the second half – can you see a pattern developing here – the Burnley goalkeeper was able to save quite comfortably under his bar.
Moise Kean was given a rousing reception when he came on for the last 13 minutes yet was still searching for his first meaningful touch of the ball when Everton made the breakthough. Seamus Coleman had nearly given Everton the lead by rejecting the crossing option and making his own way into the box, only to run out of confidence in his own shooting ability and allow Burnley to clear. Finally when Sidibé hoisted one more cross from the right with 10 minutes remaining Calvert-Lewin was able to meet it cleanly, placing a header in the exact spot where Pope could not reach it to score via a rebound off the goalkeeper’s right-hand upright.