EPL

Everton ease worries with victory over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Everton eased their relegation worries with 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, who once again had reason to feel aggrieved about refereeing decisions going against them.

A rare goal from Idrissa Gueye was followed by a similar long-range strike from Dwight McNeil on his 200th Premier League appearance to secure a second-successive home win – sandwiching Monday’s 6-0 debacle at Chelsea – and lift Sean Dyche’s side five points clear of the bottom three.

But Toffees defender Ashley Young lived a charmed life after appearing somewhat fortunate to escape three penalty claims against him, which the visitors felt were all more than justified.

Both clubs have had cause to rail against the Premier League this season: the hosts had eight points deducted for breaches of profitability and sustainability rules, although they are appealing against the latest docking of two.

Forest, whose appeal against the four they had taken away will be heard next week, have been so incensed by some of the officiating against them they appointed former referee Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst.

He is likely to be over-employed again after Young’s tackles on Gio Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose shot also hit the defender’s arm, were all waved on by referee Anthony Taylor with VAR offering no reason to reverse any of the decisions to leave them a point above the relegation zone.

Dyche made four alterations from the Stamford Bridge embarrassment but it was not the only change as the manager abandoned his usual matchday uniform of black mackintosh and black suit for training gear.

But if he was hoping to give off the air of a man confident of his game plan – having said on Friday he had told the players he would not allow them to get him the sack – it was not apparent for almost half-an-hour.

Former Liverpool defender Neco Williams had an early shot parried by Jordan Pickford; Everton’s first attempt on target – Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s weak header – did not arrive until the 27th minute.

Their next attempt proved far more valuable, however. Gueye had previously scored one Premier League goal from 99 attempts from outside the area so it was perhaps not surprising Forest’s defence were content to stand off the midfielder when he carried the ball forward previously, working on the assumption Everton had more dangerous players in possession.

But that tactic was misguided on this occasion as Gueye controlled Ola Aina’s poor header and found the gap low down between Matz Sels’ right hand and the far post from just outside the area.

It was only the Senegal international’s fifth goal in 187 league appearances across two spells for the club and his first in the league goal at Goodison since February 2017.

His only other strike this season was a late winner in the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace in mid-November.

Pickford’s brilliant save from a Chris Wood shot – five minutes before the interval – ensured that lead was maintained, as did VAR’s insistence Young’s arm was in a natural position from Hudson-Odoi’s volley.

Calvert-Lewin squandered the chance to give Everton some breathing space early in the second half when he fired wide from James Tarkowski’s knockdown, before Young tested the officials’ judgement once again when he went into the back of Hudson-Odoi.

Forest were still dictating play when Morgan Gibbs-White guided a shot over Pickford but wide and that miss proved costly when McNeil, like Gueye in the first half, squeezed a low shot in between Sels’ outstretched arm and the post, the ball going in off the inside of the upright.

Striker Beto, on as a replacement for Calvert-Lewin, departed on a stretcher late on after a clash of heads but even 17 minutes of additional time were not enough for a toothless Forest to launch a comeback.

Related items

  • Bournemouth make Unal deal permanent Bournemouth make Unal deal permanent

    Bournemouth have made Enes Unal's stay at the Vitality Stadium permanent, with the striker signing a four-year contract after a productive loan spell with the club.

    Unal arrived on loan from Getafe in January and made 16 Premier League appearances throughout the second half of 2023-24.

    While he largely served as a deputy to star striker Dominic Solanke, Unal did manage two goals as Bournemouth finished 12th, just one point adrift of a top-half finish.

    Unal's first Premier League goal was a stoppage-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Sheffield United in March, while he was also on target in a 3-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in late April. 

    Bournemouth set a new top-flight club record by earning 48 points in their first season under Andoni Iraola, enjoying a dramatic upturn after failing to win any of the Spaniard's first nine league games at the helm.

    Unal – who missed the first half of 2023-24 with a cruciate ligament tear – told the Cherries' website: "I enjoyed testing myself in the Premier League while regaining my fitness. I am really excited for the years ahead."

  • LA Galaxy v FC Dallas: Estevez hails visitors' improvement LA Galaxy v FC Dallas: Estevez hails visitors' improvement

    Nico Estevez feels FC Dallas have made big strides as they prepare to embark on a tough three-game road stretch, starting with Wednesday's visit to the LA Galaxy. 

    Dallas are unbeaten in five games in all competitions (three wins, two draws) after only winning one of their previous nine (two draws, five defeats).

    They visit Dignity Health Sports Park on Wednesday before going to Los Angeles FC and Minnesota United for their next two games in MLS.

    Though Estevez was furious to see his team squander a 3-0 lead in a 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake last Saturday, he is convinced things are moving in the right direction overall.

    "We have to recover because we have three away games in a row. It's going to be challenging, we go to LA and then we go to Minnesota," Estevez said. 

    "It's going to be hard, but there's been improvement of the team against Austin, Houston, and now, against RSL. We're going in the right direction. 

    "We'll review things, we'll try to find the things we have to improve, but also it's about the mentality. Some of the mistakes we made were too much like youth players, we cannot do that at the pro level."

    The Galaxy, meanwhile, ended a run of four straight draws by beating the Houston Dynamo 2-1 last time out, with Gabriel Pec scoring as they went within four points of the Western Conference summit. 

    "The team is getting better little by little. After three ties in a row, getting back home and getting a result, the feeling is very good," Pec said.

    "The team has been doing great. Also, myself. I hope I can help my team moving forward."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    La Galaxy – Gabriel Pec 

    Pec has scored in his last four home games for the Galaxy, becoming the first player to do so since Javier Hernandez in 2022. 

    Only six players in club history have scored in five consecutive regular-season home appearances, with only three (Dejan Joveljic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robbie Keane) doing so in the last 20 years.

    FC Dallas – Asier Illarramendi 

    As well as being one of just three Dallas players with more than one goal to his name in MLS this year (two), Illarramendi has played 15 key passes, a tally only bettered by Paul Arriola (16). That is despite the Spaniard only making six league starts this season. 

    MATCH PREDICTION – LA GALAXY WIN

    Dallas have collected just two points on the road this season (two draws, four defeats), tied for the fewest in MLS alongside Nashville SC. 

    They have just two wins in their last 17 regular-season road games, though one of those two victories came at the Galaxy last October. 

    A repeat is not expected on Wednesday, though, with the Galaxy unbeaten in six straight home matches (three wins, three draws). They have lost only one of their last 16 regular-season games at Dignity Health Sports Park (seven wins, eight draws).  

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    LA Galaxy – 47.5%

    FC Dallas – 26.3%

    Draw – 26.2%

  • Sporting Kansas City v Vancouver Whitecaps: Sartini wants aggressive approach from visitors Sporting Kansas City v Vancouver Whitecaps: Sartini wants aggressive approach from visitors

    Vanni Sartini has asked Vancouver Whitecaps to take a more “aggressive” approach to beat Sporting Kansas City in MLS on Wednesday.

    Vancouver sit seventh in the Western Conference with 19 points but after a run of six matches without a win in the competition, the teams below them are catching up.

    The Whitecaps failed to mount a comeback in their latest defeat to Inter Miami, losing 2-1 at home, causing them to also lose ground on the teams above them.

    Sartini expects a tough game against the side bottom of the table, saying: "It's a team that are behind us in the standings and we know how important it is to win those games to put more distance because we're still in a playoff position that we need to keep.

    "It's always very hard to play there, the atmosphere, with the fans on top of you, it's very intense. We need to be good, and play our soccer and be even more aggressive.

    "We need to score more goals and finalise our chances. We have six games that we could've won three of them and I think we deserved that, but we didn't win any of them.

    "Of course, being more clinical is an issue and we need to be better. We're working on that."

    Sporting KC have just 11 points having won only two of their league games so far this season.

    They have failed to win any of their previous eight MLS matches, losing each of their last five.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Sporting KC – Alan Pulido

    Pulido has scored five goals in four regular-season matches against the Whitecaps. Pulido’s 1.34 goals per 90 minutes against Vancouver is the second-best ratio of any Sporting Kansas City player against a single opponent (min. 300 minutes played versus opponent).

    Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Gauld

    Gauld scored the Whitecaps’ lone goal on Saturday from the penalty spot, his 10th penalty goal since the start of the 2022 season. Only three players in MLS have scored more goals from the spot over the last two-plus regular seasons than Gauld.

    MATCH PREDICTION – SPORTING KANSAS CITY WIN

    Sporting KC have won four of their six home matches against the Whitecaps (one draw, one defeat including playoffs) scoring at least three times in all four wins. Vancouver have totalled just three goals over the six matches combined.

    However, Kansas City have lost five straight regular-season matches for the first time since April-May 2011. Sporting’s last losing streak of six or more league matches was a seven-match run in 2006.

    Vancouver are winless in six straight MLS matches (three draws, three losses) after a 2-1 loss to Inter Miami on Saturday. The Whitecaps have totaled three goals in the six games after averaging 2.1 goals per match (17) in their first eight league matches this season.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Sporting KC – 44.8%

    Draw – 27.9%

    Vancouver Whitecaps – 27.3%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.