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Everton channel the grand old teams of their past to down Chelsea and secure vital three points

ANDVerton 1-0 Chelsea (Richardison 46′)

If Everton are to survive, it is Goodison Park, the stadium they have plotted to abandon for two decades, that will save them.

Since his appointment in February, Frank Lampard has taken 13 points from as many games and all have come beneath the latticework and the old pillars of a ground that will soon make way for an arena on the Mersey waterfront.

The Old Lady was at her most defiant. At the end, blue smoke and blue flags poured from the stands, grown men hugged each other and punched the air while loudspeakers played the old songs that no longer seemed like nostalgia for a forgotten, irrecoverable age. With their backs jammed against a wall, this was a display worthy of the grand old teams of the past.

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Goodison has not tasted relegation since the days of Clement Attlee but Burnley’s late win at Watford on Saturday had placed the abyss into sharp focus. Not since Aston Villa went down in 1987, five years after becoming champions of Europe, English football would have had a bigger chance.

After Cesar Azpilicueta allowed himself to be dispossessed by Richarlison 20 yards from his own goal a minute after the restart, Everton still control their own destiny. They are two points behind Leeds with a game in hand.

There have been many who wondered if a temperamental Brazilian was really what Everton needed in days like these but, once through on goal, he slotted the ball into the corner of Edouard Mendy’s net as if this were a contest with nothing riding upon it.

Although Chelsea struck both posts and Jordan Pickford performed heroics, Everton did more than survive. Chelsea have won once at Goodison since Lampard left Stamford Bridge as a player in 2014 and they did not do so now.

Even from a distance, it felt like a decisive afternoon. Some Everton fans had attempted to disrupt Chelsea’s preparations by setting off fireworks outside the team hotel. The coach carrying Lampard and his team nosed its way along Goodison Road, wreathed in blue smoke.

As they had in last Sunday’s Merseyside derby, Everton came out ready to mix it, though they carried more of an attacking force than they had at Anfield. Once more, they reached the interval goalless. Anthony Gordon, the one diamond discovered in the wreckage of the season, drew a free-kick, while the match was still being measured in seconds.

Even after Chelsea began to push Everton back to the extent that Alex Iwobi was pressed into service as a fifth defender, the 21-year-old remained Everton’s likeliest threat, sending a shot just wide of Mendy’s goal and pressing for another as the seven minutes of stoppage time crawled by.

In midfield it was the kind of game a Kendall or a Ball would have recognized. There were touches of skill that saw Kai Havertz and Mason Mount glide the ball between them but mostly it was physical and uncompromising.

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It was epitomized by Mount hauling down Yerry Mina and then pushing him over, sparking a brawl that saw Pickford come running into the Chelsea half and three players booked. Jorginho, one of those kept awake by the Saturday night fireworks, did not reappear for the second half.

Two minutes after the restart, Richarlison snatched the lead and had Vitalii Mykolenko shown slightly more composure when the goal gaped moments later, Goodison might not have bitten its collective fingernails to the quick. The Ukrainian threw his head into his hands de el, although he ought to have consoled himself with the thought that as a left-back, goalscoring is not what he is employed for.

Chelsea recovered their balance. Everton, defending with poise and passion, dug their fingertips into the advantage Richarlison had given them and did not let go. There was luck to be ridden. Mason Mount, who had been developed as a player by Lampard when he managed Derby, drove a shot that struck both posts. Jordan Pickford flung himself at a point-blank shot from Antonio Rüdiger and took it full in the face.

This was an afternoon full of chants, loud and raucous, sometimes desperate but one rang clear. Goalkeepers in clubs battling relegation do not fare well but Jordan Pickford may still be England’s number one.

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