02/12/2023 0comments  |  Jump to last
Forest 0 - 1 Everton

Dwight McNeil scored the only goal with a crisp second-half strike as Everton toppled Nottingham Forest to win on their travels for the fourth time in five Premier League matches.

The winger had seen Murillo clear his goal-bound effort off the line in the first half but there was no stopping him from firing the Toffees into the lead midway through the second.

Playing without the injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton had struggled to execute in the final third to that point and Beto had blown a gilt-edged chance to score his first league goal for the club but McNeil's goal proved enough against out-of-form Forest.

Amadou Onana was also missing from the starting XI as Idrissa Gueye continued in central midfield alongside James Garner in an otherwise unchanged line-up and, after a fairly scrappy open, Everton seized control of the contest.

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Despite enjoying as much as 70% of the ball at times, however, they found an open goal elusive, not least when Beto had a great opportunity to fire Everton ahead in the 22nd minute.

The goalkeeper spilled the ball at the Portuguese striker's feet but, trying to steer it wide of Odysseas Vlachodimos and the last defender into the empty net, he scooped his shot over the bar.

As the game passed the half-hour mark, Forest finally started to come alive and Anthony Elanga swept Serge Aurier’s cross wide of the post but both sides went very close to going into half-time a goal up.

First, Abdoulaye Doucouré played McNeil in with a neat pass but Murillo did superbly to get back onto his goal line to hack a shot searching for the far corner off the outside of the opposite post and behind.

Then, in stoppage time, when James Tarkowski was caught dallying in a dangerous area, Forest took possession and Ibrahim Sangare moved the ball on to Morgan Gibbs-White but, thankfully, he lashed a first-time effort into the side-netting.

Steve Cooper’s side had been well below par during the first 45 minutes and could only have improved in the second as they came out from the interval in more purposeful mood.

And they came within inches of taking the lead when a couple of red shirts went down in the box under the attentions of Everton players from a corner and the ball ended at the feet of half-time substitute Felipe who smashed a snap-shot off the outside of the woodwork.

Ashley Young hit the wall with a disappointing direct free-kick and Beto ballooned one into the stands before McNeil took centre stage. Harrison and Gueye exchanged a tidy one-two down the right flank and the winger clipped a teasing ball to the back post where McNeil took one touch and then despatched it across the keeper on the half-volley and into the top corner.

Predictably, Cooper’s men stepped up their efforts in the final quarter of the game as they battled to avoid a second successive home defeat for the first time since September 2022.

Elanga could only find the side-netting off a clever free-kick routine and an important touch by Vitalii Mykolenko to force him to the byline, Garner flung himself into an excellent defensive block to deny Ryan Yates, and Jordan Pickford was called upon to execute a fine sliding tackle on Elanga to clear his lines.

The England keeper was alert again to push Murillo’s low drive away to safety and with just a minute left, Elanga had one last chance to scratch out a point but missed the far post with a curling shot.

Everton had come into the game sitting rock bottom of the table thanks to Burnley’s thrashing of Sheffield United earlier in the day but the win lifts the Blues up to 18th and to within two points of Luton sitting above the relegation zone.

 


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