Amid the transfer saga of one certain England striker that peaked this week, it has become easy to forget Everton’s supreme home talent in another: Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
He scored a tell-tale goal – just like last week and the week before – as Everton convincingly outplayed Brighton on the south coast with a 2-0 win.
Calvert-Lewin, still just 24, isn’t quite fit according to manager Rafael Benitez, but he has started this season with three goals in three games for an Everton side that looks to be in very good shape.
Everton maintained their unbeaten start under Rafa Benitez with a 2-0 win over Brighton
Demarai Gray opened the scoring in the 41st minute with a low attack from the edge of the box
Calvert-Lewin scored from the penalty spot for the second week in a row to double the lead
Indeed, he is the first Everton forward to start consecutive seasons with a goal in each of the first three games since Dixie Dean in the 1930s.
Demarai Gray opened the scoring here before Calvert-Lewin ended the game as a game from the spot in the second half to cap off a great team display.
The Rafa revolution is gaining pace, this is a second win that comes with a pleasing draw at Elland Road last week. In the back they look solid, players who were previously inconsistent flourish and goals appear every time they attack.
It was a battle of two attacking teams but there was a lack of action in the first 30 minutes, although Everton grew at half time and started to get a grip on the game.
There was an argument over who would take the penalty, as Richarlison demanded to take it
But Calvert-Lewin won the debate and sent the dot with ease to continue his form
MATCH FACTS AND REVIEWS
BRIGHTON (3-4-2-1): Sanchez 5.5; Webster 5.5, Dunk 6, Duffy 6; Gross 6.5, Bissouma 7, Lallana 6 (Welbeck 60, 6), Moder 5.5 (Richards 71.6); Trossard 5, MacAllister 5 (Veltman 46, 6); Maupay 6.
Subs not used: Steele, Connolly, Mwepu, Alzate, Zeqiri, Roberts.
Manager: Graham Potter6.
EVERTON (4-2-3-1): Pickford 6; Coleman 7, Keane 6, Holgate 6, Digne 6; Doucoure 6, Allan 8; Townsend 7, Gray 7.5 (Gomes 81), Richarlison 7; Calvert-Lewin 7.5 (Iwobi 69, 6).
Subs not used: Begovic, Lonergan, Kenny, Nkounkou, Gordon, Branthwaite.
Booked: Richarlison, Pickford.
Manager: Rafael Benitez 7.5.
Referee: Jonathan Moss 7.
Andros Townsend, greeted by a chorus of boos at every touch amid his past relationships with Brighton’s enemies Crystal Palace, looked lively.
The former England man operated from the right flank, but constantly popped up in central areas with deceptive runs that made him difficult to follow.
He had a shot on the half hour that forced a scrambling Robert Sanchez into a fine save into the bottom corner.
Seconds later, the goalkeeper carelessly passed straight to Townsend – he settled it on Abdoulaye Doucoure who fired a shot over the crossbar.
Everton kept pressing and got behind a few times, Gray and then Seamus Coleman both retrieved the crosses from the byline approved by the defenders.
And while Brighton looked active on the counterattack, it seemed only a matter of time before Benitez’s side opened the scoring and they did so in the 42nd minute via their man of the moment.
Gray, who excelled last week with a goal and dazzling performance in a 2-2 draw at Leeds, received the ball midway through the half from Brighton and drove on Adam Webster before unleashing a hard and low shot into the far corner.
With less than £2million as a summer purchase from Bayer Leverkusen, he’s looking forward to one of the bargains of the season so far – and possibly a cheap starlet for fans’ fantasy squads.
On the next attack, Allan darted into Brighton’s penalty area and cut his heels at Calvert-Lewin, who pulled his shot wide and should have made it 2-0.
Graham Potter made a tactical change at half time by sacrificing Alexis Mac Allister and switching to a 4-4-2 and Brighton came out with much more attacking intent and urgency.
Substitute Joel Veltman played on the left with Neal Maupay, but the striker slipped as he lined up before Pascal Groß forced Jordan Pickford into action with a poisonous free kick from the edge of the box.
Veltman also fired a shot over and looked very lively. Too bad he was half asleep to do his actual job, as the Dutchman was caught on his heels when Allan Coleman pushed right behind with a luscious pass.
The Irishman scanned the area and invited Veltman to tackle, who knocked him over the head. Coleman went down a bit easily, but there were no complaints when Jonathan Moss pointed to the spot.
Richarlison picked up the ball for the penalty, but was quickly persuaded to hand it over to Calvert-Lewin after speaking with captain Coleman.
Gray scored for the second week in a row when he gave the Toffees the lead just before half time
Benitez has made an impressive start at Everton with two wins and a three draw
And if taking fines was a role that was previously uncertain, it certainly is now. For the second week in a row, Calvert-Lewin placed his penalty kick powerfully into the bottom corner to the right of the goalkeeper.
That was Everton’s 56th goal for the Yorkshireman, but only second from the spot, after last week’s equalizing goal in Leeds. His confident technique could mean it takes a while for someone else to step up from 40 feet.
A more telling statistic is that since the start of last season, only Mo Salah, Harry Kane (both 23) and Bruno Fernandes (21) have had more Premier League goals than Calvert-Lewin’s 19.
Graham Potter looks on as his side’s unbeaten run from Brighton came to an end on Saturday
Brighton didn’t really show up and Everton’s display brought a sense of reality to Potter’s side, who started the season with successive wins.
Richarlison, Doucoure and Andre Gomes all missed opportunities for a third goal, but Everton had this game under control, with the end greeting every pass – many of them – with an ‘ole’.
It’s still early days but Benitez is heading into the international break with the Everton fans warming up slowly to their new boss, who has started his return to Merseyside with a pleasing seven points.