Everton 3 (Naismith 17', 22', 83') Chelsea 1 (Matic 36')
Chelsea have made an unexpectedly terrible start to the season but credit to their supporters for keeping a sense of humour. “We are staying up,” they chanted as their side slumped to a third defeat in five games. Things are probably not quite that bad, though as with José Mourinho being reminded to check his employment status in the morning or the league table that reveals Chelsea to be the first team to concede a dozen goal this season, this is not a situation anyone anticipated a few weeks ago.
A sizzling hat-trick by Steven Naismith, not even on the pitch at the start of the game, earned Everton a deserved victory in a fixture they lost 6-3 last season. Everton were excellent without being scintillating, it was the sluggishness and passivity of their opponents that was the most surprising feature of the game. The side that hit six here last season appears to have disappeared. Despite the wealth of attacking talent at Mourinho's disposal Chelsea might not have got on to the scoresheet at all but for an opportunist strike from considerable distance by a defensive midfielder.
The game came crackling to life a quarter of an hour in when John Stones overhit a back pass to Tim Howard. The goalkeeper dealt with it comfortably enough but it resembled a shot and a Stones own goal against Chelsea would have been some story. Within a minute Everton had taken the lead at the other end through a delightful combination of two of their squad players. Brendan Galloway, enjoying a run at left-back through injury to Leighton Baines, whipped in the most inviting of crosses that Naismith could hardly miss. The substitute, on after eight minutes when Muhamed Besic pulled up with a hamstring problem, met the ball perfectly on the six-yard line for a header that flew past Asmir Begovic.
If that was a bright start the afternoon got steadily better for the home side in the next few minutes. Begovic had to be alert to keep out a header from Arouna Koné after Seamus Coleman crossed from the left, then the
goalkeeper saved again when James McCarthy sent in a shot from distance. Within five minutes of the opening goal Naismith and Everton had a second. Good work by Koné and Romelu Lukaku by the right touchline led to Ross Barkley finding Naismith in space in the centre of the pitch, and spotting an opportunity the Scot beat Begovic with a cleanly struck left-foot shot that found the goalkeeper's bottom left corner.
With Coleman winning his sometimes physical duel with Diego Costa, Stones exuding grace under pressure as he calmly took on and beat opponents in his own penalty area and Mourinho subjected to chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning", Everton fans probably suspected it was too good to last. So it was. After a largely unproductive first half hour that had seen Costa living off scraps of possession and neither Eden Hazard nor Pedro make any impression on the game, Chelsea suddenly pulled a goal back with a bolt from the blue from Nemanja Matic. Everton could have closed the midfielder down more quickly, but as he was at least 30 yards out there seemed no immediate danger. Matic changed that perception with one imperious swing of his left boot, sending the ball arrowing into Howard's top corner with a shot that was still rising as it crossed the line.
From a position of complete dominance, Everton spent the remainder of the first half on the back foot, defending too deep and inviting Chelsea to come at them. They made it to the interval without further mishap, though Chelsea went close on a couple of occasions, notable when John Terry headed narrowly over the bar and Hazard sent a shot through a crowded penalty area. Lukaku had a chance to restore a two-goal cushion early in the second half but shot straight at Begovic, who needed two attempts to claim the ball and was aided by a surreptitious touch from Terry that the officials generously chose not to interpret as a back pass. Everton were duly incensed, though it would have been academic had Lukaku done better with the shot or looked across to see Kone arriving in support.
It turned out not to matter, Chelsea had by now misplaced the energy and goal threat that they managed to demonstrate in the period before half-time and, with Stones treating his London admirers to a masterclass of defending with and without the ball, Everton held out quite comfortably. They were even able to bring on Aaron Lennon and Ramiro Funes Mori towards the end, before Naismith had made the game safe with his third goal, slotted home from a narrow angle from a pass by Barkley.
– Guardian Service