Everton beat Forest to move five points clear of relegation zone

21 Apr 2024
Everton lead

Gueye and McNeil's long-range strikes were the difference in 2-0 win at Goodison Park

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Everton boosted their Premier League safety hopes with a hard-earned 2-0 win over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest.

Superb long-range strikes from Idrissa Gueye and Dwight McNeil, plus a magnificent save from Jordan Pickford, settled a relegation six-pointer in Everton’s favour at Goodison Park.

Following Luton Town’s heavy defeat by Brentford on Saturday, the Toffees took full advantage to move five points clear of the relegation zone with five matches remaining.

Sean Dyche’s side – who face Merseyside rivals Liverpool in midweek – stay 16th, but still have a match in hand on Luton and 17th-placed Forest, who remain a point above the bottom three.

The relegation battle

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
16 Brentford BRE 38 -9 39
17 Nott'm Forest NFO 38 -18 32
18 Luton LUT 38 -33 26
19 Burnley BUR 38 -37 24
20 Sheffield Utd SHU 38 -69 16
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How the match unfolded

Pickford had Vitalii Mykolenko to thank in the 27th minute, as the Everton left-back’s vital intervention prevented Morgan Gibbs-White getting a shot away and potentially punishing the England goalkeeper’s loose clearance.

Mykolenko was involved at the other end as the Toffees took the lead two minutes later. His cross was only cleared as far as Gueye, whose strike arrowed away from Forest keeper Matz Sels and into the bottom-left corner.

Idrissa Gana Gueye, Everton

Pickford came to the hosts’ rescue five minutes before the break as he brilliantly denied the in-form Chris Wood from point-blank range.

Pickford save

Forest believed they should have had a penalty for a potential handball from Ashley Young, who had earlier escaped punishment for a clumsy tackle on Giovanni Reyna in Everton’s area.

Young was somewhat fortunate again after the restart, with referee Anthony Taylor deeming the 38-year old to have got a foot to the ball when he challenged Callum Hudson-Odoi in the box as Forest kept up the momentum.

That incident came just after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had fired wide from close range at the other end, though a huge chance went begging for Forest when Gibbs-White sliced wide after James Tarkowski failed to deal with a long ball.

Yet against the run of play, it was Everton who got the all-important second goal with 14 minutes remaining, as McNeil sealed the points with a fierce 25-yard drive that rattled in off Selz’s left post.

McNeil goal

Everton substitute Beto was forced off on a stretcher after being knocked unconscious, subsequently the forward was taken to hospital as a precaution. A lengthy injury time spell followed, however, the Toffees held on for a potentially crucial victory.

Unlikely source helps bring home comforts back to Goodison

Counting out the three promoted teams, since the start of last season, the Toffees arrived in this contest having recorded the fewest wins (10), fewest points (37), fewest goals (32) and most defeats on home soil (17).

After that humbling defeat at Chelsea last time out, Everton needed to ensure they maintained an upturn in fortunes at Goodison Park, where they beat Burnley on April 6,

Fittingly, Pickford helped secure that clean sheet with a superb save to deny Wood on his 250th Premier League appearance for the Toffees.

And the win was aided by a rare strike from Gueye, who chose an ideal moment to score only his second goal at Goodison – with his last coming in a 2-0 win over Sunderland in February 2017.

Forest’s road woes roll on

Nuno Espirito Santo would have been hoping to party like it was 1999, the only time Forest have been Everton in their last eight Premier League meetings.

But it was not to be for the Tricky Trees, who missed the opportunity to put breathing space between themselves and Luton and are now four points behind Everton. They go up against league leaders Manchester City next time out.

Among the 17 ever-present Premier League sides since the start of last term, Forest have registered the fewest wins (three), least points (18), most defeats (24), fewest goals scored (28) and most conceded (79) on their travels.

While Forest may point to those penalty shouts involving Young, a lack of clean sheets is also a concern, with the only one in their last 23 games secured during February’s 2-0 win over West Ham.

Club report


Next Premier League fixtures
Key facts

Everton have picked up six points in their last three Premier League matches (W2 L1), as many as they did in their previous 13 games combined (D6 L7).

Since the start of last season, Nottingham Forest have lost more Premier League away games than any other side (24), picking up 12 fewer away points than any other ever-present side in that time (18).

Each of Everton’s last three Premier League goals have been scored from outside the box (Calvert-Lewin vs Burnley, Gueye & McNeil today) – before this, only three of their previous 40 goals had come from outside the area.

All 17 of Dwight McNeil’s Premier League goals have been scored with his left-foot – only Stuart Pearce has ever scored more goals in Premier League history exclusively with his left-foot (20).

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