Visceral boos didn’t greet the final whistle at Goodison Park after another hugely disappointing result in Everton’s survival bid. Instead, there was stunned silence. Conor Coady’s 49th-minute header proved the difference between Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Little could have been worse than Monday’s 5-0 capitulation to Tottenham Hotspur, but this is arguably of greater concern for Frank Lampard. Home form is one straw Everton have been able to grasp at as their predicament has worsened and, against a Wolves team who have lost three of their last four Premier League games, there was the belief that a move away from the relegation mire could be made here.
A first half full of stoppages gave way to a second period in which Wolves dominated and, crucially, took one of their growing number of chances. Naturally, it was the boyhood Liverpool fan and academy player who scored the goal to send Everton to defeat. Further insult to injury came with Jonjoe Kenny being sent off and Everton finished with 10 men.
The game with in-form Newcastle United on Thursday now takes on extra significance for Everton, who have won just once in 10 league matches — the other nine have all been losses.
Story of the game
Everton forced the issue in what was a fiery first half. They created the better chances, but that’s not saying much. Richarlison was sent through by Vitalii Mykolenko but Jose Sa smothered the Brazilian’s low effort. Anthony Gordon’s inviting cross from the right proved elusive for the arriving Everton striker soon after.
Richarlison was the focal point of Everton’s 3-4-3 with Dominic Calvert-Lewin not even making the squad. The home side took time to find their feet in this system. Lampard had to change something after Monday’s meek 5-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. He dropped Michael Keane and Allan, in turn welcoming back Ben Godfrey and Demarai Gray.
Their start was frantic: clearly Lampard wanted his side to press Wolves — and that was enflamed by Hwang Hee-Chan going down three times with the same leg injury much to the annoyance of the home crowd. Lampard wanted his side to find some sort of rhythm but the constant stoppages halted any momentum.
Hwang’s replacement, Daniel Podence, was Wolves’s only livewire in the first half. It was the Portuguese’s delivery from the right which Raul Jimenez bicycle-kicked wildly over four minutes before the break; that was the visitors only chance of a subdued opening half.
The contrast was therefore evident as Wolves came out a different team after the interval. Within minutes, Lage’s side were ahead. The visitors recycled a corner kick which had been partly cleared, Ruben Neves sent in a fine cross which Coady met to head powerfully past Jordan Pickford. Everton’s lack of height in defence had been exposed by the Wolves captain.
Buoyed by the breakthrough, Wolves went close with Jimenez and Podence both sending shots narrowly side of the post before Pickford was required to use his leg to deny a further effort from Jimenez from a tight angle. Lage’s team were on top now and frustrations grew around a restless Goodison Park.
Lampard sent on Dele Alli and switched to 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to get Everton back on the front foot. One neat move down the left almost paid dividends but Richarlison could only steer his effort into the side-netting having raced ahead of Max Kilman.
Everton’s afternoon was to only get worse, though. Kenny, already cautioned for a poor challenge, went in late on Jimenez and referee Michael Oliver showed him the way off. As Everton’s situation grows ever more worrisome, they will start to fear that they themselves will be shown the way out of the league they have graced continuously for the past 71 years.
Everton: Pickford; Kenny, Holgate, Godfrey; Coleman, Doucoure, van de Beek, Mykolenko (Dele 59); Gordon, Richarlison, Gray (Townsend 74).
Subs (not used): Begovic, Keane, Gomes, Allan, Iwobi, El Ghazi, Rondon.
Wolves: Sa; Kilman, Coady, Saiss, Jonny, Neves, Dendoncker (Trincao 82), Moutinho, Marcal; Hwang (Podence 16), Jimenez (Silva 88).
Subs (not used): Ruddy, Boly, Gomes, Cundle, Ait Nouri, Chiquinho.
Referee: Michael Oliver.