An opportunistic second-half goal from striker Richarlison, heroic saves from goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, and some delightfully over-the-top fan support helped Everton beat Chelsea 1-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday. The win boosted Everton’s still slim hopes of staying in the Premier League.
Going into the must-win match against the European champions all but doomed to relegation, Everton entered the game a desperate team, if not entirely a dispirited one. And though they’re still tottering on the brink of the second flight with five matches left to play, the Toffees’ scrappy win should give them reason to believe that they can win with their back against the wall. Which, at the risk of overdoing it, it still very much is.
Everton fans went to work well before kickoff, setting off fireworks outside Chelsea’s hotel for an hour and a half in the middle of the night. At this stage of desperation, every little bit of help counts. The ruckus reportedly did succeed in waking up at least some of the players.
The Evertonians then showed up in the thousands to greet the Toffees’ bus as it pulled up to the stadium.
When it came to the actual match, Chelsea dominated possession, completing 715 passes to Everton’s 195 and tallying 17 shots to Everton’s nine. But it was Everton that seized upon a mistake to score the only goal of the match. Richarlison capitalized on a too-casual Chelsea backline and interrupted a would-be clearance before calmly slotting it home.
Starting in the 59th minute, Pickford came up with two incredible saves in the span of about 120 seconds, including one that wasn’t so much a save as it was sacrificing his face to block a rocket of a shot taken from close range.
Chelsea stepped up their pressure in the second half and then through seven long minutes of stoppage time, but Everton held on—with some help from a fan, who helped spend a few moments by hiding the ball up his shirt.
The win puts Everton only two points behind 17th-placed Leeds.