Everton scored more than once at home for the first time in almost a year as Goodison Park finally celebrated a victory after a 3-0 win over a woeful Bournemouth.
October 22, 2022 was the last time Goodison witnessed a game with multiple goals for the hosts when Crystal Palace were dispatched by the same scoreline.
On-loan Leeds winger Jack Harrison, who departed to a standing ovation late on, marked his full home debut with a brilliant lob over goalkeeper Neto to double the advantage given to them by James Garner’s early strike.
Abdoulaye Doucoure, whose goal against the Cherries in May secured the club’s top-flight survival here on the final day of the season, made the game safe on the hour with an altogether more simple close-range finish.
After four successive home defeats, Everton avoided a record worst start to a season at Goodison but were fortunate to come up against Bournemouth.
The visitors extended their own club-record winless run to 12 matches (nine defeats and three draws) and have now equalled their worst start to a season since 1994 in the third tier. The reasons for that were apparent.
Everton have hosted – and lost to – some poor sides in Wolves, Fulham and Luton already this season but none were as accommodating as the Cherries, who aside from an energetic spell 10 minutes after going behind appeared to still be trying to work out what new coach Andoni Iraola wants them to do.
Sean Dyche’s side did not even have to play that well to establish a two-goal cushion but once they did the confidence started to gradually flow back, encouraged by the lack of threat their opponents posed.
Dyche had dropped midfielder Amadou Onana to move Garner inside so he could go with two wingers in Harrison and Dwight McNeil but the Belgium international received a late reprieve when Idrissa Gana Gueye sustained a problem in the warm-up.
The key factor in the victory was probably the early goal, something they had failed to manage in four previous matches.
Illia Zabarnyi slipped bringing the ball out of defence, Philip Billing was unable to recover possession and Garner advanced forward to guide a low shot past Neto’s left hand for his second goal in three games.
The goal prompted Everton’s worst spell of the game and Bournemouth’s best as Dominic Solanke drilled a shot into the side-netting from an acute angle as the momentum appeared to shift.
But Everton seized it back when Dominic Calvert-Lewin latched onto Ashley Young’s pass down the line and set off on a run along the byline to force Neto to block his cross-shot.
A minute later they had doubled their lead when Neto punched clear Vitalii Mykolenko’s hanging cross only as far as Harrison, who perfectly lofted a 20-yard shot over the backtracking goalkeeper and in off the underside of the crossbar.
Calvert-Lewin hit the same crossbar with a header and Onana fired a shot on the turn as Everton finished the half strongly before another mistake by Zabarnyi soon after the interval should have sealed Bournemouth’s fate.
The centre-back’s wayward pass presented the ball to Doucoure but, unlike his blast from the edge of the penalty area in May, he shot weakly at Neto.
He did not make the same mistake from close range when Harrison’s far-post header from McNeil’s cross was parried into his path by the goalkeeper and straight from kick-off he should have volleyed home the fourth from another McNeil cross.
Everton’s former Burnley winger was having a decent game himself and, after hacking Zabarnyi’s header off the line defending a corner, he managed to get on the end of the subsequent counter-attack to shoot at Neto.
The under-employed Jordan Pickford’s late saves from Kieffer Moore and Marcus Tavernier at least kept him tuned up for the forthcoming England internationals.