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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Andy Hunter at Goodison Park

Doucouré strike seals emphatic victory for Everton against Bournemouth

Abdoulaye Doucouré scores Everton’s third goal against Bournemouth.
Abdoulaye Doucouré scores Everton’s third goal at Goodison Park. Photograph: Emma Simpson/Everton FC/Getty Images

The sun shone like the first day of a bright new season, Everton scored for fun and won handsomely on home soil. A strange day indeed, but one Sean Dyche desperately needed and Goodison Park craved having endured torment for far too long.

A first home victory of the campaign, at the fifth attempt, and three goals at Goodison for the first time in almost a year signified a rare uplifting and entertaining afternoon for Everton.

They had not scored more than once in a home game since beating Crystal Palace 3-0 last October – 18 Premier League games ago - but James Garner, Jack Harrison and Abdoulaye Doucouré ended that sorry sequence in a commanding display.

The spotlight switches to Bournemouth’s winless run under Andoni Iraola, with questions already being asked about their new manager’s future.

“You talk about me having a good reputation but I have to show it,” Iraola admitted. “We haven’t won any (Premier League) games so that means I am not doing my homework, but I feel the players are pushing and will improve.”

His Bournemouth team were anemic at both ends of the pitch and compliant visitors for an Everton team seeking home improvement. Having lost their opening four league games at Goodison for the first time since 1958, the pressure was on Everton not simply to win but to rekindle confidence in Dyche’s approach. The process was helped by the gift of an early lead.

Illia Zabarnyi was the unfortunate culprit, losing his footing when bringing the ball out of defence. Garner seized on the loose ball, strode forward with intent and swept a low shot beyond goalkeeper Neto from the edge of the area. Tension lifted off Everton and confidence, that precious commodity, took its place. “The key was 1-0,” said Iraola. “It gives them a lift and the way it happened meant we felt unsafe playing from the back.”

James Garner scores Everton’s first goal against Bournemouth.
James Garner gives Everton an early lead against Bournemouth. Photograph: Ed Sykes/Reuters

The overdue return of Garner to central midfield alongside Amadou Onana brought greater composure and creativity to Everton’s play. Their pressing game improved too. The partnership was forced on Dyche after Idrissa Gana Gueye suffered a heel injury in the warm-up, prompting Onana’s late promotion from the bench.

Everton doubled their lead in spectacular style when Harrison, who was carrying a hamstring problem, marked his first home start with a beautiful debut goal. Neto punched a Harrison cross straight to Vitalii Mykolenko, then punched the Ukrainian left-back’s return ball under pressure to the on-loan winger from Leeds. Harrison, 25 yards out, floated an inch-perfect half-volley back over the stranded keeper and in off the underside of the bar. A glorious way to well and truly lift the Goodison gloom.

Everton could have been further ahead by the interval. Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed an inviting Ashley Young cross against the bar and Onana fired wide following a flowing move. Zabarnyi almost gifted the hosts another goal when putting Doucouré through with a slack back pass. The midfielder, who saved Everton’s Premier League status with the winner against Bournemouth last season fired tamely at Neto, but didn’t wait long to atone.

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Doucouré released Dwight McNeil to the byline after Onana dispossessed Adam Smith. McNeil’s floated cross to the back post was met by Harrison, whose header was blocked on the line by Milos Kerkez. The loose ball fell kindly for Doucouré to crash home from close range. The hosts were rampant with Doucouré and the tireless duo of Calvert-Lewin and McNeil all going close to a fourth.

“There were so many good performances and I’m really pleased for the group,” the Everton manager said. “The difference is when we win the noise changes. If you don’t win people lose faith in good performances. We had 25 efforts today, 23 in the last game. Today we didn’t wait for it to happen, we stepped up and made it happen and that has to be a mindset that continues.”

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