The Merseyside club impress in 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion
Richarlison the hero as inspired Everton highlight progress under Marco Silva
At half-time, Everton belatedly introduced a specialist striker. On came Yakubu, swathed in a padded club coat. He attempted the crossbar challenge, trying to win a supporter vouchers at the club shop, and failed.
Then, when a man they sold in 2011 left the field, Everton reprised a modern tactic and with both style and success.
Winger Richarlison led the line, scoring in each half and showing the merits of a forward with elusive movement and a turn of pace.
“Everyone thought his best position was in the wide areas coming in and now he is as big a threat in the forward area,” noted the beaten Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton.
Old-fashioned centre-backs were confounded, Albion’s winning run ended, Everton’s third straight home league victory secured in impressive fashion.
“It was our best performance of the season,” said manager Marco Silva.
Each of Richarlison’s goals was an illustration of brilliantly swift counter-attacking. Everton went from one box to another for the opener, clearing a corner, with Gylfi Sigurdsson twice involved as he supplied the incisive pass for the Brazilian’s incisive finish.
Then he latched on to a rather more misplaced ball from the Brighton scorer Lewis Dunk, surging clear, rounding Mat Ryan and sliding the ball into the unguarded net.
“He has this capacity to press high and put pressure on the centre-backs,” Silva added.
That effort was all the more admirable as Richarlison’s participation seemed in doubt after rolling his ankle before he opened the scoring.
He completed the game. “It shows you his resilience,” Silva said. “He played the second half with pain in his feet. Possibly tomorrow it will be worse.”
Yet his protege brings the promise of a brighter tomorrow. But if Richarlison is the face of the new regime, the man who embodies Everton was the other scorer.
In the tactical sense, with the debate if Richarlison is at his best on the left, his double may have more significance. Yet on an emotional level, Seamus Coleman’s goal mattered more.
It was a cathartic moment after 22 months without scoring, 10 of them without playing because of a horrific leg break.
If Coleman celebration, cupping his ears in front of the Gwladys Street End, perhaps betrayed a sense he felt scapegoated for last week’s defeat at Manchester United, when he struggled against Anthony Martial, he was a popular scorer nonetheless.
This, though, was the Coleman Everton remembered, defined as much by relentlessness as quality, forever foraying forward.
“Coleman performed better,” added Silva. “His physical condition is growing. His confidence is growing.”
A leader struck wearing the captain’s armband. If the acclaim was about the person as much as the player, it was only right. Coleman’s influence permeates.
He donated €5,000 (Dh20,910) to the Sean Cox fund for the care of the Liverpool fan, a fellow Irishman, who suffered serious brain injuries when attacked by Roma supporters. On and off the field, he has a sense of responsibility.
On it, Everton excelled, even if they offer more entertainment than efficiency. The goal they conceded was entirely in keeping with a campaign when they have shown set-piece susceptibility.
Brighton, whose centre-backs have scored a quarter of their goals, tend to excel in such situations and Dunk headed in Solly March’s cross after a well-worked corner routine. “The only moment I didn’t like was from the corner,” Silva added.
There was much else to admire. A Brighton side who had not conceded since September were opened up time and again.
Sigurdsson, relishing his centrality after Everton exiled his rivals for the No 10’s role, could have scored two early goals, each after openings fashioned by the full-backs. Idrissa Gueye struck the inside of the post.
“We were up against a very good team who will push the top six,” added Hughton, though lamenting Brighton’s defending.
“We would analyse all three goals and look at them as poor goals.”
But when asked if his team deserved something, he replied simply: “No.”