Dominic Calvert-Lewin helped Everton end their winless Premier League start in a thoroughly deserved victory over Brentford at Gtech Community Stadium.
Substitute Calvert-Lewin, who had scored just twice in 19 league games since May 2022 amid several injury setbacks, ensured Sean Dyche’s side claimed maximum reward for their efforts by adding his side’s third.
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s superbly taken half-volley had given the lively visitors the lead inside the opening six minutes.
However, after Dwight McNeil shot narrowly wide and Doucoure hit the crossbar with another excellent attempt, a below-par Brentford delivered a sucker-punch.
Just 90 seconds after Doucoure had gone close to adding a second goal, Mathias Jensen found the bottom corner following a slick passing move to equalise against the run of play.
Everton continued to pose the greater threat and impressive £30m summer signing Beto went close to a first Premier League goal before half-time, lifting a shot over Mark Flekken which rolled wide of the far post,
But it was captain James Tarkowski who took advantage of poor Brentford defending to head home McNeil’s corner after 67 minutes, before Calvert-Lewin raced on to James Garner’s pass to fire past Flekken and seal a much-needed three points.
The victory lifted Everton out of the bottom three and up to 15th, while Brentford sit just two points ahead of them following back-to-back defeats.
Doucoure and Beto impress in positive Everton performance
Amid the ongoing noise around Everton, four defeats from five league games ahead of Saturday’s trip to London suggested a third successive relegation dogfight could be in store for the club. However, Dyche this week called for his players to “play with a smile”.
And while uncertainty continues off the pitch, amid a proposed takeover of the club by American investment group 777 Partners, Dyche and his players know they must focus on making progress on it.
At last, the Toffees have hinted at their ability to achieve that.
A lack of goals had been a pressing concern in the early stages of the campaign – Everton had scored in only one previous league game, with two goals in a draw at Sheffield United.
Although they scored three here, perhaps Dyche’s only complaint can be that they failed to add more.
The industrious Doucoure led by example, dictating Everton’s rhythm and producing the early moment of quality to inspire an encouraging performance that Dyche will desperately hope can kickstart his side’s campaign
Doucoure was inches away from chasing a hat-trick after 26 minutes – before Jensen dealt a harsh reminder of the Premier League’s punishing nature by converting Brentford’s first chance of note.
But Everton continued to play positively, and with no shortage of belief, to earn a first league win since beating Bournemouth to secure their Premier League safety on the final day of last season.
In a match full of positives for the away side there was yet another promising display by Beto, whose hard work and ability to win duels created space for those around him to exploit.
Calvert-Lewin, on his 250th club career appearance, added the finishing touch after great work by Garner to dispossess Nathan Collins. It provided the perfect end to a hugely satisfying evening for Dyche.
Rare off day for Brentford
This was an uncharacteristic Brentford performance and manager Thomas Frank will hope his side offer an immediate response after slumping to successive defeats following an unbeaten first four games.
The Bees were dealt a setback in the warm-up when Kevin Schade suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Keane Lewis-Potter.
Lewis-Potter wasted no time announcing himself – the 22-year-old’s threatening run leading to Ashley Young being shown a yellow card after 38 seconds – while he also missed a chance under pressure from Tarkowski.
But those flashes, along with Jensen’s equaliser and the passing sequence preceding it, proved rare moments of promise.
Brentford, in the ongoing absence of banned talisman Ivan Toney, struggled to assert themselves throughout a frustrating evening and could have few complaints about the result.
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