Marco Silva wore the satisfied smile of a manager whose team had clicked. Two superb finishes from Richarlison plus Seamus Coleman’s first goal since breaking his leg 20 months ago brought Everton a convincing and impressive win over Brighton. The in-form visitors were brushed aside by Goodison Park’s finest spectacle under their Portuguese manager.
Brighton arrived here with the confidence of three consecutive top-flight wins for the first time since 1981 but were on the back foot throughout as Everton played with adventure, speed and style. Coleman celebrated his goal angrily, his first since returning from that horrific double leg fracture was a moment to savour.
Everton were excellent, passing with intent and moving intelligently, and should have taken the lead long before Richarlison’s fifth goal of the season. The hosts looked to release their full-backs at every available opportunity and almost profited when Michael Keane’s fine ball sent Coleman scurrying away from Gaetan Bong. From the byline, the Republic of Ireland captain found Sigurdsson unmarked in front of goal but his connection was poor and scuffed across goal. He met Digne’s inviting delivery with a cleaner effort moments later but, under pressure from Shane Duffy, could only find the side-netting. Kurt Zouma also headed wide from a Digne corner as Silva’s team maintained the pressure.
The misses did not deter Everton’s commitment to attack and they were deservedly rewarded by their £40m summer signing. A fine goal it was too. Silva had said on Friday that his team gained and lost from switching Richarlison from the flank to the forward line. The manager’s perseverance paid off when Sigurdsson exchanged passes with Bernard, threaded a superb ball into the Brazil international and he drove a first time shot into the roof of Mat Ryan’s goal. It was the first goal that Brighton had conceded in 321 minutes.
Brighton threatened rarely – on account of Everton’s dominance of possession rather than a lack of adventure on their part – yet levelled swiftly from a well-taken and well-executed corner. Beram Kayal caught the home side unaware with a short corner to Solly March who swept a dangerous cross into the six-yard box. Lewis Dunk, stepping away from Idrissa Gana Gueye and Zouma, gave Jordan Pickford no chance with a powerful header from close range.
The pattern remained unchanged after the interval with Everton pressing and Brighton breaking only occasionally on the counter attack. The commanding Gana Gueye struck the inside of a post with a daisy-cutter from 18 yards. Bernard returned the rebound to the far post where Theo Walcott, at full stretch, volleyed wide.
Bernard was also involved when Everton retook the lead early in the second half. He found Andre Gomes, whose attempt to round Kayal was halted by the midfielder’s challenge. The ball rolled on to Coleman and the right back, having sized up his options, drove a low finish from the edge of the area into Ryan’s far corner. It was the 30-year-old’s first goal since January 2017 and he celebrated in uncharacteristically angry fashion, remonstrating with the Gwladys Street over something seemingly said. They made amends with a vociferous rendition of “Sixty grand Seamus Coleman”.
Everton’s goals were all easy on the eye, in keeping with their overall performance, but Richarlison’s second of the afternoon was the stand out. It came from a rare mistake from Dunk who sold his central defensive partner Duffy short with a under-cooked cross-field pass. The Brazilian pounced in a flash. First he intercepted, then he rounded the former Everton defender, sprinted clear, weaved around the Brighton goalkeeper and slotted into an empty net from the angle. A fitting end to Everton’s best display under their new manager.