Everton 1-2 Burnley: McNeil stars for the Clarets

Burnley eased their relegation worries with a 2-1 victory over Everton as a third defeat in four at Goodison Park dented their top-four hopes.

Home form is becoming something of an issue on Merseyside: Liverpool have lost six in a row, Everton have won just one of the last seven in which they have been beaten by bottom-six sides Newcastle, Fulham and now the Clarets.

With fourth-placed Chelsea drawing at Leeds earlier in the day, Carlo Ancelotti’s side had the chance to move within two points with a match in hand but they blew it as they were not only out-fought but out-played.

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The visitors’ deserved victory moved them seven points clear of the bottom three.

Chris Wood and a superb strike from the excellent Dwight McNeil put them 2-0 up inside 25 minutes and it could easily have been more. Even Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 14th Premier League goal of the season failed to spark a reaction.

To add more injury to the pain of defeat Everton lost Jordan Pickford to the recurrence of a rib problem.

Burnley, who also ended Liverpool’s long unbeaten home run in January, were terrific in the first half as they refused to be destabilised by Richarlison’s early shot which Nick Pope pushed behind.

Everton dominated possession without going anywhere and completely against the run of play the visitors took a 13th-minute lead.

Josh Brownhill, excellent throughout, dispossessed Tom Davies deep inside his own half and sent McNeil racing down the left and his deflected cross was clipped home past an unsighted Pickford by Wood.

It was Wood’s 40th Premier League goal for the club, just one behind team-mate Ashley Barnes, and the first time he had scored in back-to-back games this season.

Everton had won just one of their last 24 home league matches after conceding the first goal and they could easily have found themselves 4-0 down in half an hour.

Visibly aggrieved by what they felt was the clear denial of a penalty when McNeil’s corner hit the elbow of Mason Holgate, Burnley’s intensity increased and they added a brilliant second moments later.

McNeil easily skipped past the tackle of Allan and advanced unchallenged to curl a superb left-footed effort into the top corner.

Johann Gudmundsson then hit the post with a low shot from distance with Pickford aggravating the problem which saw him miss four matches last month with his despairing dive.

Calvert-Lewin got the hosts back on track in the 32nd minute, powering home a close-range header from Davies’ cross for his first goal in five matches.

He should’ve done better with his flicked attempt from Andre Gomes’ free-kick later on.

Ancelotti had started with Alex Iwobi at the top of a midfield diamond, having said pre-match he wanted the player to tell him his favoured position, but that experiment was soon abandoned as Everton switched to 4-1-3-2 with the Nigeria international moved to the right.

Pickford eventually succumbed to his injury and was replaced by Joao Virginia for his Premier League debut just before the break.

Like the first half Everton tested Pope early after the interval, the England goalkeeper tipping Gomes’ shot wide.

However, Burnley still looked to have the greater goal threat with a mix-up between Virginia and Godfrey almost gifting Matej Vydra a chance while Mee’s header dropped onto the top of the crossbar.

Virginia denied substitute Jay Rodriguez’s angled shot 10 minutes from time but as Everton pushed for the equaliser Burnley dug in and did what they do best, organising, closing space and committing to every tackle.

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