Dominic Calvert-Lewin gets Everton off to winning start at Tottenham

The striker’s first goal since 1 March secured Everton’s first win at a top-six club since December 2013

This was the sort of game that Everton had not won for a long time. The key statistic that tracked them to London highlighted how they had failed to win at a top-six club since December 2013 – a run of 40 matches, with the vast majority having been lost.

Carlo Ancelotti has overseen a summer spree that has added Allan, Abdoulaye Doucouré and James Rodríguez and his broader challenge is to harden the club’s mentality. This was an excellent start, even if it came against an uninspired Tottenham who had one of those days that offer José Mourinho’s critics a blank canvas.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored the decisive goal early in the second half, heading home from Lucas Digne’s free-kick, but Everton’s margin of victory should have been greater. Richarlison looked as though he could have played all day and not scored – his most glaring miss came early on – although he did stretch Spurs with his energy but, for Ancelotti, it was not an occasion to dwell on the negatives.

The positives were plentiful and began with the performances of the debutants. Allan, who sat in front of the back four, showed a relish for the physical fight and provided tempo and organisation; Doucouré sparked moves from a slightly higher central position while Rodríguez caught the eye off the right, where he was able to cut inside on to his cultured left foot. Ancelotti described him as “outstanding”.

The signings cost £62.5m and they have taken the outlay under the owner, Farhad Moshiri, to just under half a billion pounds in four years. His largesse has not been in doubt; it has been the decisions of the people he has entrusted to spend the money which have been open to question. Is this the start of better things?

Spurs forced Jordan Pickford into two first‑half saves but their performance lacked tempo and was undermined by predictable patterns. Mourinho had the excuses, as usual. He pointed to an impossible pre-season and his players’ lack of fitness. But it is hard to ignore the feeling he is already on the back foot. His team were broken by Calvert-Lewin’s goal and had nothing by way of response.

Everton were slicker at the outset, moving the ball with greater purpose and they ought to have led on 16 minutes when Richarlison ran clean through and went around Hugo Lloris after a loose ball by Ben Davies. The forward’s touch at full speed took him a little wider than he might have liked but he still had enough of the goal to aim at. Stumbling slightly, he lifted wildly off target.

Spurs laboured, although they did have flickers in the first half. Son Heung-min aimed a ball towards the far post on 24 minutes which asked Harry Kane to stretch to apply a decisive touch. He was inches from doing so and the ball then bounced narrowly past the far corner.

Matt Doherty reacts after Everton’s Jordan Pickford saves his shot.
Matt Doherty reacts after Everton’s Jordan Pickford saves his shot. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Reuters

Could Spurs win the ball high to drive a quick transition? They did so once before the interval when Lucas Moura got the better of Allan and fed Son, who ignored Kane’s run to play in Dele Alli. The Spurs attacker’s shot was tipped over by Pickford, who also stood tall to keep out Matt Doherty on 42 minutes. Spurs’ debutant right‑back got the run on Allan, played it to Kane and got the ball back via a beautifully weighted lob. Doherty took on the shot first time only for Pickford to block.

Rodríguez’s quality was evident in the passes he picked, often out to the left flank, while there was a threat from him in the final third. He curled a low shot just past the post on 37 minutes and dropped a cross over Doherty for Richarlison to head wide early in the second half. Moments earlier, he scuffed from an André Gomes cut-back.

Gomes also had a shot charged down by Toby Alderweireld and the breakthrough goal had been advertised. It aggravated Mourinho that it came from a free-kick and one he argued had been taken from the wrong position but Calvert-Lewin’s timing was in. He got in between Alderweireld and Eric Dier to score his first goal since 1 March.

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Mourinho groped for the solution. He hooked Alli at half-time – he said the No 10 lacked creativity, although the charge could have been levelled at many others – introducing Moussa Sissoko on the right. He shuffled again midway through the second half, swapping Harry Winks for Steven Bergwijn and going to 4-4-2 with Son up alongside Kane. Mourinho’s final change saw him bring on Tanguy Ndombele in midfield and switch Sissoko to right-back.

Nothing worked. Spurs were bankrupt in the second half, sleepwalking towards a defeat that will stir pessimism among their fans and the damage would have been worse had Richarlison not twice curled past the far post.


David Hytner at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

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