LONDON: Goals from forward Richarlison and midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson helped Everton beat Chelsea 2-0 in the Premier League yesterday, denting the London side’s hopes of finishing in the top four.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s livewire Sadio Mane scored one goal and played a crucial part in the other as they reclaimed the top spot with a scrappy 2-1 win at second bottom Fulham.
It had looked like being a frustrating day for Juergen Klopp’s side after Mane’s opener was cancelled out by Ryan Babel following a mistake by Virgil van Dijk, but substitute James Milner slotted home an 81st-minute penalty to take the points.
Liverpool have 76 points from 31 games, two more than champions Manchester City who have a game in hand. Fulham have 17 points and a mountain to climb if they are to avoid almost certain relegation from the top flight.
Mane scored his ninth league goal in as many games when he fired the visitors into a 26th-minute lead with a classy finish which typified Liverpool’s attacking mentality under Klopp.
Brazil’s Richarlison headed Marco Silva’s side in front from close range in the 49th minute after Kepa Arrizabalaga had kept out striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s powerful header from Sigurdsson’s corner.
Everton went 2-0 up in the 72nd minute when Sigurdsson put the ball past Arrizabalaga from the rebound after his penalty kick was saved by the Chelsea goalkeeper following a foul in the box on Richarlison by Marcos Alonso.
“It would be easier for me just to speak about the second half. The first half I didn’t like it at all, we were not there from the first minute,” Silva said.
“I told our players at halftime they have to do everything different. And they did. They showed great attitude, character and personality.”
Everton were a transformed side in the second half and went close two minutes after the break, when midfielder Andre Gomes forced a save with a stinging shot from distance. They then took full control of the contest.
Chelsea had been unlucky not to score after a good start. Eden Hazard’s drive was saved by Jordan Pickford in the sixth minute, before he hit the post a minute later and Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain had a shot cleared off the line.
Everton climbed to 11th with 40 points from 31 matches while defeat meant that sixth-placed Chelsea stayed on 57 points from 30 games, a point behind Manchester United above them and three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.