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EVERTON claimed a hard-fought and much-needed win against Bournemouth to edge into the top half of the Premier League table.
Kurt Zouma made the breakthrough with a powerful header and Dominic Calvert-Lewin made sure of the points in the final seconds after a nervy end to the game for the home fans.
Eddie Howe’s side played some good football but couldn’t find the net, while Everton made the most of their two big chances despite some scrappy play.
“It was a difficult one to take for us,” said Howe.
“We started strongly, created some good chances but didn’t take them, then we switch off at a set-piece and get punished. We had late pressure but couldn’t force a goal.”
Much of his side’s best play early on went through attacking midfielder David Brooks. The England-born Welsh international was always looking to make things happen and almost scored when played through on goal by Junior Stanislas, but his shot struck the post.
Bournemouth looked bright, but Everton’s start was as dull as the Liverpool sky, which leaked sheets of rain over Goodison Park. Ademola Lookman was lightning down the wing, though, and created a chance for Bernard but the Brazilian’s diving header was mistimed.
21-year-old Lookman was Everton's best player by some distance and will have impressed England manager Gareth Southgate who was among the 38,113 in attendance.
It was his incisive through-ball to Seamus Coleman which led to a corner from which Michael Keane almost scored. Lucas Digne sent the ball into the box following a half clearance, but Keane’s header flew just over.
There was more zip about the home side at the beginning of the second half after receiving instructions from their manager Marco Silva at half time.
“One of the things which was clear — we had to change our build-up,” he said.
“[Bournemouth] planned the match well, putting high pressure on in some moments and we made mistakes when we could have broken that pressure easily.
“After the space appeared for us, we started to play faster and with more quality.”
Richarlison almost made this count straight away but his shot was cleared off the line by Nathan Ake. Then, a similar situation to Keane’s earlier effort led to the opening goal. This time it was the other centre back, Zouma, on the end of Digne’s cross, heading emphatically past Asmir Begovic.
The two centre backs almost conspired to let the visitors back into when Zouma’s pass to Coleman was nudged into the path of Ryan Fraser by Keane. Fraser put Joshua King through on goal but his powerful effort hit the side netting.
Howe’s side piled the pressure on in the last quarter, but Everton also managed to break, with Richarlison doing brilliantly to get his head on a Gylfi Sigurdsson cross but the attempt drifted wide.
“It was a really important win,” added Silva.
“It’s always important when you can win. The match was tough but we deserved the three points.”
It was fitting that Lookman had the final say, teeing up Calvert-Lewin who finished well to add the second and seal the victory.
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