Everton 0-1 Fulham: Decordova-Reid guides Fulham to smash-and-grab victory

As the sun rose on the 2023/24 Premier League season, there was little optimism around Goodison Park. Having just survived relegation last season, Everton were looking for a confidence-renewing win on Saturday against Fulham, who surprised everyone by finishing 10th the previous campaign.

EVE: Pickford; Young, Tarkowski, Keane, Patterson; Iwobi, Onana, Gueye, Garner; Doucore; Maupay

FUL: Leno; Robinson, Ream, Diop, Tete; Cairney, Lukić, Reed; Willian, Jiménez, Wilson

In what was a glorious sunny day at Goodison Park, it was almost the worst possible start for Fulham as Neal Maupay latched onto a loose pass – but the visitors were able to breathe a huge sigh of relief as he shot just wide of Bernd Leno’s far post.

Marco Silva’s side then won a corner which saw a lovely cross into the box by Willian, though captain Tom Cairney propelled his mistimed volley well over the bar. In what was developing into an end-to-end clash, there was another good chance for the Toffees as they got forward well and sent Abdoulaye Doucoure through on goal – but his shot was saved well by Leno.

As much as Fulham had started as the brighter side, it was Everton who had seen the better chances – and another one of those came just inside the twenty-minute mark, as Maupay’s shot was dragged just wide of the bottom-left corner.

Maupay had the ball in the net just over ten minutes before half-time and thought he had handed the Toffees the lead – but the goal was disallowed for a foul on Issa Diop in the buildup.

The away end were getting frustrated at the amount of possession their hosts were having – and Idrissa Gana Gueye almost made the Whites pay just before halftime, but his drilled shot was collected comfortably by Leno.

The introduction of Bobby Decordova-Reid at half-time in place of Willian seemed to wake up the Cottagers to an extent, as two successive corners saw Sasa Lukić’s volley curve past the far corner, reigniting a bit of promise for Fulham.

And that promise looked to be set in stone a few minutes later, as a wonderful cross by Harry Wilson saw Raul Jimenez fire towards goal – only for Pickford to save that, and then watch DeCordova-Reid’s rebound float well over the bar.

In what was their first clear chance of the second half, Everton almost took the lead through a lovely curling shot by Iwobi, with Nathan Patterson’s rebound flying across the face of goal.

Harry Wilson took matters into his own hands – or feet, so to say – a few moments later, as the former Red almost returned to Everton with a bang, but his shot flew just over the bar.

As the clock ticked into the 72nd minute, Fulham finally took their chance, and it was super-sub Decordova-Reid with the finish following a superb assist by Wilson, leaving the away end in raptures.

Halfway through second-half stoppage time, Arnaut Danjuma was through one-on-one against Bernd Leno, but his curling shot somehow flew wide of the bottom corner in what proved to be the final big chance in this game.

Fulham return home for a West London derby against Brentford, while Everton travel to Unai Emery’s Aston Villa next time out.

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