Just when you thought Fulham were going to get their first win at Goodison Park in generations, Everton turned the screw and never looked back. It’s been the story for Fulham all season. They’ll look great in one half and terrible in the next and vice versa.
In this instance, Slavisa Jokanovic brought back Tim Ream and the defense looked more solid than it ever did in any 45-minute sequence this Premier League season. On the other hand, Fulham were starved of the ball and had little to work with to spring an attack. You would have thought did nothing with the ball if not for Ryan Sessegnon’s shot that hit the crossbar just before halftime.
Loads of fouls did happen to make this contest a bit choppy. It was quite clear that Richarlison was getting whipped out of the game with constant fouls by Fulham’s fullback. The collisions were so hard that Timothy Fosu-Mensah had to come off after an awkward landing on his right arm. But besides that, only a Theo Walcott shot from distance was the closest bit of danger for Marcus Bettinelli, who was captaining the side for today.
That’s right! Bettinelli went from being third-choice goalkeeper to club captain within the span of seven league appearances. Jokanovic can be a funny human being sometimes.
That said, you got the sense that the Fosu-Mensah injury and the Sessegnon miss were the bad omens that would haunt Fulham the rest of the way. In the second half, Dominic Calvert-Lewin was free on goal and Denis Odoi committed enough contact that left the referee with no choice but to reward the penalty. Fortunately, Gylfi Sigurdsson also had his moment of frustration as he lashed his attempt off the crossbar as well. But instead of having that moment as a pit of misery, Everton pushed on and used it as a catalyst for the rest of their performance.
Just before the hour mark, Lucas Digne sprinted deep in the penalty area and unleashed a cross that fizzed through the box. Denis Odoi tried to clear it out but got so little of the ball off his foot that it found Sigurdsson. From here, the star Icelandic International curler it home to break the deadlock.
Tom Cairney came on at the 60th minute with hopes of changing the game around. Fulham were able to create one greate counter-attacking move where Jean-Michael Seri found Andre Schurrle streaking through the defense. Next, Schurrle found a wide open Luciano one-v-one with Jordan Pickford. Unfortunately, Pickford showed why he was England’s number one and claimed the ball with such authority that it sent Vietto flying out of the pitch. Add in a fist pump by Pickford and Fulham’s last great chance came to pass.
From here, Everton turned the screw thanks to a poor turnover by Joe Bryan. From there, Walcott turned back the clock to 2009 with a searing run towards the penalty area and unleashed a perfect cross to a wide open Cenk Tosun to make it 2-0.
To put the death nail, substitute Bernard put on a scathing run of his own on the right hand side of the pitch and found a trailing Sigurdsson and put an innocent shot that befuddled Bettinelli.
So a 3-0 scoreline by Everton looks a little more deceiving than usual 3-0 victories. However, Everton controlled the game from the off and Fulham never did enough in attack. It’s getting to a point where there needs to be many more ways to strike than just feeding it to Aleksander Mitrovic. Otherwise, any Premier League side with common sense will know how to defend it with ease. Losing to Everton is not the end of the world, but Fulham are losing their chances of climbing up the table. The last thing they want to do is get caught in a relegation fight the rest of the way.