It was another disappointing showing for Everton as they slumped to their seventh home-defeat of the season, as they begin to feel the pressure, as the battle for the European places edges closer to its climax.
Story of the match
Sean Dyche also made the one change to his side from their last outing, albeit this one forced, as Charlie Taylor’s hamstring injury allowed Erik Pieters to feature from the start.
There was no holding back from either side as they both raced out the blocks at Goodison Park. Everton took the early initiative as they dominated the ball, in the hope of avoiding a similar result to their home fixtures against Newcastle and Fulham earlier in the year.
Richarlison had the first chance of the evening as he dropped between the Burnley lines, to pick the ball up off Alex Iwobi. However, his shot from distance was comfortably beaten away by Nick Pope, on his 100th league start for The Clarets.
As Everton continued to dominate the ball Burnley grew into the game, as they looked to deploy their high press, In the hope of capitalising on any indecisiveness from the home side.
That’s exactly what happened in the 13th minute, when Josh Brownhill excellently dispossessed Davies high in the Everton half before laying the ball off into the channel for Dwight McNeil. McNeil’s cross was only half-heartedly cleared away by Michael Keane, as Chris Wood picked the loose ball up on the edge of the box, before shifting the ball onto his favoured right foot as he curled his effort past Jordan Pickford into the corner.
It was a situation that was all too similar for Ancelotti’s men at Goodison Park. Their home form as been their achilles heel for the entirety of the campaign. Ancelotti referred to the issue in his programme notes, as he insisted Everton needed to start to picking points up at home if they want to remain in the European places come May.
Dyche's side showed no desire to sit and guard their one-goal advantage. The Clarets clearly sensed Everton’s vulnerability to the high press, as they continued to hound the Toffees' back-four. Their implementation worked to a tee, as they doubled their leading margin thanks to a spectacular effort from McNeil in the 25th minute.
He picked the ball up from Matej Vydra outside of the area, as he began to waltz his way past any blue shirt insight, before producing a moment of sheer brilliance, as he finessed his ball into the top corner. Leaving Pickford helpless in his attempt.
Everton were rocked by Dyche and Burnley’s disturbance, and they should have had another almost immediately after. Johann Gudmundsson struck the post from distance, and his effort left ‘keeper Pickford in need medical attention, as he looked to have damaged his hip in the process.
Everton managed to get themselves back into the contest as Dominic Calvert-Lewin helped himself to his 14th goal of the season, after he nodded Davies’ cross home from close range.
Dyche’s men - so often criticised for the defensive stubbornness - continued to suffocate the home-side. This time Iwobi was the latest player in blue to surrender possession. Luckily for the Nigerian, McNeil’s resulting shot was blocked.
On an evening where Gareth Southgate would’ve been paying close attention to both goalkeepers ahead of this summer’s European Championships. Pickford was forced off with his earlier sustained hip-injury, as Joao Virginia was summoned by Ancelotti, as he made his first Premier League outing.
Everton came flying out the blocks after the restart as as they looked to rectify their first-half sins. Calvert-Lewin and Andre Gomes both had early attempts on Pope’s goal, but neither failed to really test the Burnley's No.1.
Ben Mee and James Tarkowski marshalled the away sides second-half defensive battle, as the home side started to ramp up the pressure. However, for all their dominance, Everton failed to create many clear-cut chances, something that was potentially down to the absence of this season’s star man, James Rodriguez.
It was in fact the away side who should’ve grabbed the games fourth goal after a flurry of chances with 20 minutes left to play. First up was Vydra, who was unable to capitalise on a defensive mix-up from Virginia and Ben Godfrey, as he missed the ball from just over six-yards out.
Mee then came close from McNeil’s corner as his header slammed the up-right. Before Vydra again had the chance to seal the maximum points for the away side, as he struck his effort straight down the throat of Virginia.
There was a nervous ending for Dyche’s men as Everton sent everyone forward for their final corner, but it was easily cleared away at the near-post. The failed corner was met by screams of frustration on the Everton bench.
McNeil will have clubs sniffing around
McNeil's performance at Goodison Park reminded the rest of the country as to why there is so much excitement around the 21-year old. His first-half stunner is what will be spoke about, but it was work off the ball that was most eye catching. He, and his fellow Burnley team mates harrowed the Everton defence all evening long, McNeil was one of the trigger points to the press, as he enjoyed one of his best games in a claret shirt.
Unbelievably, that was McNeil's first league goal outside the four stands of Turf Moor, a stat that highlights the consistency issues in his game, something that will no doubt come with time and experience.
Toffees' European hopes dinted
Everton followed a familiar season-long script tonight, as they slumped to their seventh home defeat of the campaign. Newcastle, Fulham and Burnley have all taken maximum points on their visits to Goodison this season.
Tonight was arguably the most sobering out of the three, as Everton put Southampton to bed on their last game on home soil, so it felt like any fears of replicating previous results against bottom half sides had been eased. Clearly, they had not.
Everton played well in spells on the night, they started brightly, with intensity and created chances, but by the 30 minute mark Burnley should've been 3-0 up and out of sight.
Ancelotti's men have left themselves with a tough task in the penultimate weeks of the season, as they look to break into the European places. The Italian is well aware of how damaging results like tonight are, and if his side are to fall short this season, he certainly won't be scratching his head as to why.
Everton: Pickford; Holgate, Keane, Allan, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Digne, Iwobi, Gomes, Godfrey, Davies.
Burnley: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Gudmundsson, Brownhill, Wood, McNeil, Westwood, Pieters, Vydra