Everton justified the pre-season optimism as Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header earned them an impressive 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur in their Premier League opener on Sunday — the Merseyside club’s first win over Spurs since 2012.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side arrived buoyed by the midweek signings of Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez and French powerhouse midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure.
They both made outstanding debuts, as did fellow new Brazilian midfielder Allan, but it was Sheffield-born Calvert-Lewin who gave Everton a thoroughly deserved victory against an unimaginative Tottenham side.
After an even first half in which Richarlison wasted a great chance for Everton and keeper Jordan Pickford denied Tottenham’s debutant Matt Doherty, Everton bossed the second period.
Once Calvert-Lewin sent an unstoppable header past Hugo Lloris in the 55th minute, meeting Lucas Digne’s free kick to perfection, Tottenham huffed and puffed but offered little.
And while the season is still in its infancy and the transfer window remains open, Sunday’s evidence shows Everton’s prospects of challenging for a European place look brighter than Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.
It was the first time Mourinho had lost the opening match of a Premier League season.
“You look at the quality that’s come in, it’s an instant uplift,” Calvert-Lewin said. “As a centre forward you look at the creativity — they’ve played at the top level. There should be chances this season and I need to be there.”
Tottenham got an early scare when Ben Davies played a horribly stray pass across field and Richarlison gathered it and rounded Lloris, only to stumble and fire over an empty goal.
It at least provided a wake-up alarm for Tottenham who suddenly burst into life with Harry Kane just failing to get on the end of Son Heung-min’s cross, Dele Alli having a shot tipped over by Pickford who then blocked Doherty’s close-range effort after a brilliant lobbed pass by Kane.
Rodriguez, signed from Real Madrid this week and looking to rediscover the heights that made him one of the world’s most sought-after players after the 2014 World Cup, offered a performance that augurs well for the season.
He was at the heart of much of Everton’s best moves and almost bagged a goal when curling just wide before halftime.
He also set up Richarlison after the break but again the Brazilian fluffed his finish.