Everton hadn’t kicked a ball since the 16th of December, which seemed to contribute to an edgy start that Brighton took full advantage of. Joël Veltman picked up the ball on the right before curling in a cross to Neal Maupay, who expertly cushioned a header back to Alexis Mac Allister to coolly slot under the advancing Jordan Pickford in the third minute.
Rafa Benitez ended 2021 under intense pressure after just one win in his last 11 matches and the Merseyside club looked to be wilting under his stewardship early in 2022 when Dan Burn doubled Brighton’s lead on 21 minutes. A simple corner was flicked on by Enock Mwepu and converted by the unmarked Burn at the back post. Everton haven’t won their first Premier League match at the start of the calendar year for four seasons but did have an almost immediate opportunity to get back into the game. After a VAR review of Mwepu’s challenge on Anthony Gordon, the ‘Toffees’ were awarded a penalty, but the usually reliable Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit the bar from 12 yards out.
Brighton have kept an impressive six clean sheets this season but number seven was removed from their reach on 53 minutes in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Gordon cut inside from the right before hitting a speculative effort which deflected off the unfortunate former Liverpool man, Adam Lallana, and nestled in the far corner. The extra impetus was evident and just as it was looking like Everton were beginning to turn the screw in search of an equaliser, the ball found its way to Mac Allister on the edge of the box, who hammered in an emphatic third to restore Brighton’s two-goal advantage.
Everton haven’t managed a league double over the ‘Seagulls’ since 1981, and despite Gordon pulling back another with a fine close-range finish, the wait goes on for the Merseyside club as pressure continues to mount on their manager.