Everton 0-1 Chelsea: Tuchel's side escape Goodison
Park with three points
Jubilant Tuchel celebrates three points with Sterling (Image via Catherine Ivill/Getty)

Following a season of turmoil at Goodison Park, Everton looked to start the new campaign on the front foot as manager Frank Lampard faced off against his former club Chelsea in a Saturday Night Football clash.

Meanwhile, under new ownership and with an influx of fresh faces, Chelsea entered the game looking for no less than three points. Thomas Tuchel’s men lost focus at the back of last season but with the goal to challenge the excellence of Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League, starting as they mean to go on was a goal for West London club.

Lampard had spoken about a team that will fight until the very end every single game, and that was visible here as they went toe-to-toe with the 2021 Champions League winners. The Toffees held their own and remained competitive in a game in which they were undeniably the lesser of the two outfits.

Story of the match:

The Toffees began the season utilizing a five-at-the-back formation, as new signings James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil made their Premier League debuts for Everton, both joining from relegated Burnley. Everton were without a recognised striker, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin fell victim to a pre-season knee injury while Salomon Rondon sees out a suspension earned the season prior.

For the away side, central defender Kalidou Koulibaly and ex-Man City star Raheem Sterling made their first starts for Chelsea. Koulibaly started alongside two of the most experienced defenders the Premier League has to offer in Cesar Azpilicueta and Thiago Silva, while Sterling played in attack alongside fellow England international Mason Mount and 23-year old Kai Havertz.

Around the nine-minute mark, Ben Godfrey went down, grabbing at his ankle, following a challenge of his own. He immediately called for the physio and was forced off, in exchange for Mason Holgate. In an attempt to recover his own error, the Englishman went flying into the tackle and definitely came off the worst of the two.

The Toffees had their first big chance 23 minutes in, as a ball in from Vitaliy Mykolenko was met in the air by Tarkowski - a bullet header forced an acrobatic save from Edouard Mendy. His effort was met with a roar of approval by the Goodison faithful, who were looking to get behind Lampard and co. and keep energy high around the ground.

Around the 42nd minute, Pickford and Everton were bailed out by the linesman as Raheem Sterling was denied a debut goal by the offside flag. A first-time effort from N’golo Kante was spilled by the Everton keeper into the feet of Sterling who buried the effort. However, a clear-cut offside decision meant the game remained scoreless.

On the brink of half-time, Chelsea were gifted a penalty, and a chance to go ahead following a moment of madness from Abdoulaye Doucoure.

The Everton man brought down Ben Chilwell with a clumsy challenge from behind, sending Jorginho to the penalty spot against the man who denied him in the Euro 2020 Final, but he would not be bettered twice as he sent Pickford the wrong way putting the Londoners ahead.

Chilwell wins a penalty before halftime (Image via Michael Regan/Getty)
Chilwell wins a penalty before halftime (Image via Michael Regan/Getty)

Everton had held their own for much of the first half but a lapse in concentration at the very end meant all of their hard work was in vain and they would have work to do in the second period of play.

Straight out of the gates for the second half, a miscommunication between Thiago Silva and goalkeeper Edouard Mendy meant that Demarai Gray found himself running towards goal. His effort looked like it had the Chelsea keeper beaten but a deflection against Silva guided the effort wide.

Everton were dealt another injury blow as yet another central defender was forced off. Seemingly out of nowhere, Yerry Mina suffered a lower leg injury, possibly pulling a muscle.

This did mean that another newbie, Ruben Vinagre, could make his Everton debut. Mina is already well-acquainted with the physio, as his time at Everton has been plagued by setbacks and soft tissue injuries.

With eight minutes of regulation time remaining, the linkup between two Chelsea signings almost doubled their advantage. A ball in from Marc Cucurella was met first time by Sterling who was only denied through a courageous block by Mykolenko.

The final whistle blew on what could be considered a bittersweet opening day for Frank Lampard against his former team. A good performance from his side against one of the best teams in the league, where they potentially deserved to take something from the game – but were denied by an individual error from one of his own. Two big injuries for the Merseyside outfit will worry Lampard however, and may force his hand in the transfer market.

As for Chelsea, a good showing, and a win. Tuchel’s side finally took all three points from the Toffees, a team who had given them troubles in the past. A composed performance, despite a decent showing from the home side and any opening day nerves, controlling large spells of the game.

Player of the match:

Thiago Silva showed his experience out there, a calming presence among the Chelsea team, he controlled the game from start to finish with his excellent passing, reading of the game and exemplar positioning. For the home side, debutant James Tarkowski was a warden in the defence, a true leader that Everton have needed for some time, despite it being his first game for the club.

Everton must look to recover as they travel to face Aston Villa next time around  in the Premier League. Meanwhile, Chelsea will be looking towards another tough test as they face a tough Spurs off the back of a resounding victory on the opening weekend.

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