Ranieri’s side, looking for a response to last weekend’s heavy defeat, got off to the worst possible start as Everton forged a third-minute lead with the game’s first attack. Demarai Gray drove into the area and fired a ball across the six-yard box for Tom Davies to convert. Watford’s fortunes improved shortly after when former ‘Toffee’ King pounced on a poorly defended corner, with the goal finally awarded following a VAR review. An air of unease hung over both defences and despite the injection of two early goals, the first half unravelled into a scrappy affair.
King came close to breaking the deadlock but was denied by Jordan Pickford as the lack of composure shown by both teams continued into the second period’s early stages. Rafa Benitez turned to his bench to address the hosts’ lack of offensive sharpness with the introduction of fit-again Richarlison just after the hour-mark. The Brazilian made an immediate impact latching onto Michael Keane’s probing ball with a diving header that whistled past Ben Foster.
Everton could have extended their lead when Keane headed wide of the post and the ‘Toffees’ were punished as two goals in as many minutes turned the game on its head. Juraj Kucka’s thumping header brought Watford back level before King stunned the Goodison crowd when he found space inside the area and coolly slotted past Pickford. The Norwegian brutally exposed Everton’s defensive frailties once more in the closing stages, this time picking up possession inside the area before working his way into space and applying a composed finish.
Substitute Emmanuel Dennis completed the rout with a fifth for the jubilant ‘Hornets’ in added time, with Everton now three games winless in the PL, while Watford end a four-game winless run in all competitions as they look to move forward under Ranieri.