Richarlison took advantage of a mistake by Cesar Azpilicueta to score a game-winning goal for Everton against Chelsea.
The Brazil international equalized in the 90th minute against Leicester here last time out, but his 46th-minute goal was considerably more vital since it clinched three points in their fight for Premier League survival.
Everton Lampard grabs a significant Chelsea scalp in the relegation scrap by emphasizing substance over flair.
However, it would have been meaningless if Jordan Pickford had not made a great recovery save inches from the line from Cesar Azpilicueta’s effort after being beaten by Mason Mount’s blast off both posts.
Frank Lampard’s squad was successful and efficient at both ends of the game for the first time against his previous club. as they combined the devotion showed in a loss in last weekend’s Merseyside derby with a genuine desire to win, with their 67-year top-flight stay in jeopardy.
Given their road record, the home form was always going to be their salvation, and 10 points from the previous four games at Goodison Park have been crucial in barely keeping them afloat in 18th position.
With the win, they now have a pair of opponents two points above them to target in the relegation race, as Leeds have been driven into the muck, despite having a far inferior goal difference and Arsenal and Chelsea to play in their next two matchups.
Richarlison’s recent play, although being far from prolific in the absence of injured England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, has been welcomed by a squad hurting for goals.
He has four goals in his previous five league games, which is the same number he had in his first 21 games of the season.
But, perhaps, Pickford’s performance was more significant on this occasion, since after facing no shots on target for over an hour, he suddenly made an unscheduled cameo to hold Chelsea at bay and the lead maintained.
His spectacular denial of Azpilicueta, who was crawling across his goal after being beaten by Mount, drew similarities to Gordon Banks’ stop against Pele in the 1970 World Cup.
While it may be an exaggeration, its impact in terms of the club’s future may be considerably more significant.
The role of Everton supporters should not be underestimated, from the underhanded technique of releasing pyrotechnics outside Chelsea’s hotel in the early hours to lining Goodison Road in their hundreds armed with blue smoke canisters and banners to greet the team bus.
Us rn: pic.twitter.com/sQ8goLbD0l— Everton (@Everton) May 1, 2022
Everton lined out in a 5-4-1 shape, with Alex Iwobi at right wing-back and Seamus Coleman sliding inside, but far from being defensive, it gave them the security to harass and harass a Chelsea side that was struggling to establish any consistency.
After being sidelined for last weekend’s Merseyside derby loss, Yerry Mina’s return at center-back provided some much-needed security to the back five.
The first half saw more yellow cards (five) than shots on goal (one), but that all changed only 59 seconds after the break.
Richarlison raced down an Azpilicueta clearing on the outside of his own area, and the loose ball fell nicely to Demarai Gray, who set up his teammate to swish a shot beyond Edouard Mendy.
Richarlison showed his appreciation by snatching a smoke canister launched from the Gwladys Street end and tossing it back into the audience.
The Toffees’ advantage could have been increased seconds later, but the ball fell to left wing-back Vitalii Mykolenko at the far post, who blasted wide with just Mendy to beat.
Pickford came up at that juncture, enhancing his status as England’s number one with a magnificent goalline save and then, with hardly any time to ponder at the following phase of play, taking a full-face shot from Antonio Rudiger.
He was soon at it again, this time with a one-handed save from a Ruben Loftus-Cheek drive, but with the pressure mounting and nerves jangling, Everton put everything on the line to maintain a clean sheet, boosted by the remarkable form of their goalkeeper.
Pickford dived down low in additional time to deny a Thiago Silva attempt as Everton held on.