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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Everton 1 – 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Everton kept alive their hopes of playing European football next season as Richarlison’s header gave the Toffees victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in front of their own fans at Goodison Park.

After a goalless first half, Richarlison rose highest to power home a header early in the second half.

The Brazilian had been the home side’s most dangerous player, having forced a good save out of John Ruddy in the first half before firing wide from close range.

Adama Traore went closest to scoring for Wolves but his powerful first-half drive was tipped over superbly by Jordan Pickford.

The Everton goalkeeper had also done well to keep out a Morgan Gibbs-White volley as the visitors had the better of the opening 45 minutes.

But that was as close as Wolves got as Everton instead finished the game strongest with Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison going close to adding to the scoreline.

The victory ensured the Toffees finished a disappointing home campaign on a high and means they go into the final round of Premier League fixtures this weekend with a chance of a top-seven finish.

They are currently eighth, level on points with Tottenham and West Ham, who were in action against West Brom later on Wednesday. Everton have really struggled on home soil this season and their loss to Sheffield United at Goodison Park last time out left manager Carlo Ancelotti saying he felt embarrassed as his side suffered a record-equalling ninth home loss of the season.

The absence of fans has undoubtedly played a part and it is no surprise that Everton’s best performances in their own ground this season – a 1-0 win against Chelsea and a 2-1 defeat of Arsenal in December – came in front of watching Everton fans.

There were 6,500 Toffees spectators back in the stands for the visit of Wolves and their return certainly gave the home side that extra bit of spark that has often been lacking.

There were times when familiar bad habits slipped through, particularly in the first half as they often lacked quality in the final third.

But there was a distinct determination to work hard in front of their fans. After taking the lead three minutes into the second half the home side dug in to repel any hint of a Wolves fightback and secure what could yet prove to be a vital victory in the race to secure European football.

It will not be easy, with Everton heading to champions Manchester City on the final day this Sunday but they will head to Etihad Stadium with a stronger chance than many fans perhaps anticipated after the disappointment of the Blades loss.
While Everton have generally been poor at home, it is on the road where Wolves have found their struggles this season.

They had won only one of their 13 Premier League away games before the trip to Everton – a significant reason why Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are certain to finish outside the top 10 for the first time since they were promoted to the top flight in 2018.

While Pickford did make an excellent save to deny Traore, Wolves were disappointing in attack, particularly with their set pieces.

They had 11 corners in the first half alone against Everton but were unable to make the most of them as they failed to score in the first half for the 30th time in the Premier League this season – the most in the top flight.

Injuries have certainly played their part in a disappointing campaign for Wolves but regardless they will be targeting a much-improved campaign next term.

-bbc

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