Everton vs Chelsea result: Hosts move out of bottom three on a day shaped in the image of Duncan Ferguson

Richard Jolly
The Independent
Duncan Ferguson celebrates Everton's victory at Goodison Park: Getty
Duncan Ferguson celebrates Everton's victory at Goodison Park: Getty

Duncan Ferguson grabbed the nearest ballboy, picked him up and swung him around in celebration. You did not see Marco Silva do that, and not just because the Portuguese had little to celebrate as his reign at Everton unravelled.

This was something very different for Everton, and not merely in the rarity of a victory that extricated them from the relegation zone. Ferguson had only been in caretaker charge for 41 hours before his debut victory began, but the occasion was shaped in his image and he defined the game.

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His face dominated the cover of the programme, his name echoed out of the tannoy, his emergence from the tunnel drew a mighty roar.

Everton were not so much reinvented as reverted, playing throwback football from the 1990s and claiming their biggest scalp of the season in the process. Chelsea’s third defeat in four games was not merely a blow; it was a culture shock.

Ferguson was the attack dog in Joe Royle’s Dogs of War and the strategy seemed borrowed from the last millennium, but it worked. It was about wingers and crosses, second balls and long balls, tempo and two blocks of four, directness and dogged determination. Tiki-taka it was not, but it was very recognisable to those of a certain generation. Ferguson’s Everton had very little possession and compensated with competitiveness.

A crowd-pleasing caretaker galvanised Goodison Park. Ferguson had an instant impact, with his side ahead inside five minutes. An old-fashioned 4-4-2 brought a target man’s goal. The irony was the Ferguson-style finish came from Silva’s disciple Richarlison, meeting Djibril Sidibe’s cross with a towering header. A fist-pumping Ferguson bounced and bounded along the touchline.

He was a restless figure in his technical area or, at times, striding out of it. It fell to the luckless fourth official Darren England to rebuke Ferguson but the most fearless of footballers had a team who were not intimidated.

If Everton have been a soft touch too often of late, they were not here. Chelsea’s inability to cope with raw aggression was summed up by the second goal. Kurt Zouma made a mess of two clearances. Andreas Christensen was outmuscled by Dominic Calvert-Lewin. The ball bounced off Zouma and if it fell fortunately for the Everton forward, he took his chance clinically. Cue Ferguson lifting the ballboy into the Merseyside air.

Nor, indeed, could Chelsea clear the ball for the third. Arrizabalaga was the initial culprit, picking out Theo Walcott. When Calvert-Lewin backheeled the ball to Tom Davies, Chelsea ought to have halted him. Instead, the ball bobbled around the edge of six-yard box until Calvert-Lewin prodded it past a motionless Arrizabalaga.

This time Ferguson charged 30 yards in delirium, enough to send a shiver down the spine of many a middle-aged former defender.

Chelsea had halved the deficit when Mateo Kovacic rifled a 20-yard shot for his first Premier League goal. Given their domination of possession, they ought to have levelled. Instead, they were defeated.

With the former Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac watching on from the directors’ box, Ferguson’s tenure may be brief. But if so, it was memorable.

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