Kurt Zouma’s second-half header and substitute Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s stoppage-time strike saw Everton beat Bournemouth 2-0 on Sunday as they climbed into the top half of the Premier League table.
This victory was just Everton’s second win in nine league matches and the first time they had kept a clean sheet at their Goodison Park ground since November 24.
Zouma opted to celebrate his goal with under-pressure Everton boss Marco Silva, telling Sky Sports: “I went to the manager because he wants me to score more than last season.”
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This win came just days after Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale set a target of winning the Premier League and playing Champions League football at the club’s new stadium during the next decade.
Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has invested heavily in Everton, with the Liverpool club set to submit a planning application for a new £500 million ($636 million, 556 million euro) stadium at Bramley-Moore dock later this year.
“It was a really important game for us,” said Silva. “We have to achieve the results, for us it’s important to regain some form, and some confidence also and a clean sheet is also important.”
The deadlock in an often frustrating match was eventually broken when, with Everton having had just one shot on target and south coast visitors Bournemouth a mere two, Zouma — on loan from Chelsea — scored his first goal for Everton in the 61st minute.
An Everton setpiece was cleared by the Cherries defence before Lucas Digne kept the ball alive on the left.
His flighted cross left Nathan Ake kicking at fresh air and, with goalkeeper Asmir Begovic not coming to collect, the onrushing Zouma leapt to power in a header that delighted the home crowd.
It was the 24-year-old French centre-back’s first goal since he scored for Stoke in a 2-2 draw with Brighton in November 2017.
– Nervous Everton hang on –
A nervous Everton then had to survive concerted Bournemouth pressure at the end of a rainswept encounter before, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, the Toffees put the result beyond doubt.
Ademola Lookman did well to win the ball back and then, rather than run it into the corner, had the awareness to lay it back into the path of Calvert-Lewin, who had only come on in the 87th minute.
Calvert-Lewin, who had replaced Richarlison, then struck a low shot from 16 yards into the corner of Begovic’s net.
Despite their ninth defeat in 12 league matches, Bournemouth remained in mid-table safety and the result might have been different for the Cherries if David Brooks’ shot had not rebounded off a post in the 18th minute.
“I think it’s really harsh on us today,” said Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe. “We competed in a really tough game.”
But he added: “I thought the first goal was a huge moment which we didn’t defend well enough.
“I don’t think our goalkeeper has made a save in the match and it’s been a similar theme in recent weeks where we’ve conceded out of nowhere.”