Ellis Simms scored his first goal as Everton secured one of the close football scores of the weekend in the Premier League. Chelsea had recovered from a poor start to the season by winning their past three games in all competitions, and they should have made it four in a row after twice seizing the lead against Everton. Seven minutes after the break, Joao Felix rolled the Blues’ first past Jordan Pickford via the post, only for the hosts to let complacency to enter into their game, resulting in Abdoulaye Doucoure looping a header just over the line to level for the visitors in the 69th minute. Chelsea responded seven minutes later when Kai Havertz converted a penalty after a foul on Reece James, but the Blues threw it away again.
Everton’s comeback under Dyche continued in west London after the club appeared to be on the verge of relegation under former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard at the end of January. The Toffees collected just two points in their final eight Premier League games under Lampard, but 11 in their first eight under Dyche, demonstrating the significant impact the former Burnley manager has made. Everton tormented Chelsea throughout their Saturday evening match, with a defender seemingly in the way of the ball every time it came close to Pickford’s goal in the first half, which featured few clear chances.
The visitors’ resistance was ultimately broken when Felix collected Michael Keane’s clumsy clearance and guided the ball into the far corner, but Everton came back to level through Doucoure, who turned James Tarkowski’s header past Kepa from close range. A rare error from Tarkowski and Ben Godfrey, who combined to trip James, allowed Havertz to score from the penalty for his third goal in as many games, but Everton was not to be denied as Simms surged into the Chelsea area and snapped their three-game winning streak. Dyche’s side now sits 15th, two points clear of the relegation zone.
It’s much too early to declare Simms Everton’s No. 9 replacement, but the manner in which the 22-year-old declared his arrival was a welcome lift for the goal-shy Toffees. Only Crystal Palace has scored fewer Premier League goals this season than Everton, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin seemingly unable to stay fit and Neapay out of favor, Dyche has felt compelled to deploy Demarai Gray, a winger, as his striker in recent weeks. However, Simms, who was recalled from a fruitful loan spell at Sunderland in January, demonstrated that he may play a key role in the final stages of Everton’s season with his cameo against Chelsea.
With 11 minutes remaining and his team staring doom in the face, Simms was brought on to try to save the game for Everton – and he succeeded. Simms’ ease with which he breezed past Koulibaly – one of Europe’s standout center-backs before joining Chelsea – was impressive, and while Kepa could have done better in containing his effort, Simms deserves credit for getting his shot on target and ultimately showing his fellow forwards how to find the back of the net.
“I’m quite delighted with my mental development. There have been many criticisms raised about Everton’s away form and mentality, but it is steadily improving,” Everton boss Sean Dyche said. “It’s still a difficult place to visit. I know they’ve been up and down, but they’re a good team coming off three wins. We were a touch too respectful in the first half, but after that, we got back into the game and responded brilliantly to going behind twice.”
“We’re quite disappointed since we lost two points at home. There were many encouraging aspects to the performance, but we ultimately did not defend well enough,” Chelsea boss Graham Potter said. “We controlled the majority of the game very effectively – as much as you can at this level – but the first goal is extremely frustrating from a set-piece standpoint, as we discussed before the game. In the second goal, we did not attack well enough and exposed ourselves to a large defensive space. It’s disappointing to concede goals so cheaply.”
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