There might be fire on the mountain for Maurizio Sarri as the ‘trophyless’ manager may need to win the Europa League this season to ensure that they play in the Champions League next season. Europa League quarter finalists Chelsea wasted a chance to move closer to their top-four rivals as they were made to pay by a resurgent and strong second half display from Marco Silva’s Everton.
Maurizio Sarri’s side dominated possession in the first half with Eden Hazard striking the post and Pedro wasting a chance from close range.
But their wasteful nature was punished four minutes after the break as Richarlison headed in following a corner for his 13th goal of the season. The visitors’ woes continued after 71 minutes when Richarlison was brought down in the penalty box by Marcos Alonso before Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the rebound from his own spot-kick.
As a result, the visitors failed to capitalise on their game in hand, and still sit sixth in the Premier League table, a point behind Manchester United, who they would have leapfrogged had they won. Victory would also have taken them level on points with fourth-placed Arsenal.
For Everton, a first home win since 13 January was a much-needed response following last weekend’s defeat at Newcastle in which Marco Silva’s side lost 3-2 having led by two goals.
In that game, Jordan Pickford was an erratic presence in goal, but this time where there was no dip from Silva’s side and the England goalkeeper made a remarkable save to stop Gonzalo Higuain’s deflected shot shortly after the hosts went ahead.
Everton end struggles at home. Four losses in the last six home games prior to this encounter had made Goodison Park a depressing place for Toffees fans. Owner Farhad Moshiri has spent more than £300m since he took over the club, but an inconsistent season looked set to continue in a first half where Chelsea were well on top.
Everton boss Marco Silva had used his programme notes to ask for a “fantastic” atmosphere similar to the goalless draw in the Merseyside derby two weeks ago, but there was little to cheer until after the break when the hosts came alive.
Andre Gomes followed his first-half shot with another rasping effort in front of the Gwladys Street End to give the home fans hope.
But Goodison erupted with delight when Richarlison headed in after Calvert-Lewin’s effort was saved by Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin came close to making it 2-0 when Bernard’s cross skipped over his sliding lunge but the hosts did go further ahead after 71 minutes as Sigurdsson converted after Chelsea’s goalkeeper had saved his penalty.