English Premier League

Everton 1-0 Brentford

Everton 1-0 Brentford. In-form Everton guaranteed their Premier League survival with three games to spare by edging to victory over lacklustre Brentford.

Sean Dyche’s side benefited from Luton losing at Wolves earlier on Saturday, and this result at Goodison Park allowed Everton to leapfrog Brentford into 15th place – 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

Idrissa Gueye was the surprise match winner, smashing home a first-time finish into the top corner on the hour mark after reacting quickest to Brentford’s defenders failing to clear the ball.

A first half severely lacking in quality was summed up by neither side being able to find a shot on target. Home midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure should have done better with a volley which he screwed wide from 10 yards.

The contest improved in the second period and Everton’s England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made an excellent stop to deny the returning Ivan Toney.

At the other end, Everton were inches away from breaking the deadlock when Dwight McNeil’s thunderous drive from long range rattled the crossbar, before Gueye’s goal ensured the Blues maintained their proud top-flight status.

Everton were crushed 6-0 at Chelsea on 15 April and faced a run of three consecutive home games which would make or break another tumultuous season.

They have bounced back from that mauling at Stamford Bridge in style, beating Nottingham Forest, Merseyside rivals Liverpool and now Brentford, all with clean sheets.

The Toffees were last relegated from the top flight in 1951 but looked in serious peril this season after receiving two points deductions totalling eight points and going on a run of 13 league games without a victory.

Dyche’s men defeated Bournemouth on the final day of last season to stay up, and beat Crystal Palace from 2-0 behind at half-time in their penultimate game of the previous season under Frank Lampard to secure safety.

Although circumstances were less dramatic this time, this was equally significant.

At full-time, Dyche strode on to the pitch and heartily applauded all four corners of the ground, knowing this was a job well done under trying circumstances.

The Blues still face an uncertain future off the pitch as a protracted takeover by 777 Partners has yet to be completed, but they can at least plan for next season knowing they will still be in the Premier League.

Gueye’s thumping goal was worthy of winning a game that was turgid in large parts, going down as another important strike from the Senegal midfielder after he opened the scoring against Forest last Sunday.

The scoreline could have been more handsome had McNeil’s thunderbolt dipped in, while James Garner also struck the crossbar in injury time with a free-kick from out wide which almost sailed in.

Brentford, meanwhile, have had to endure a tough campaign but have also staved off any threat of relegation despite this loss.

England striker Toney was back after a hip injury and should have scored with his effort that was kept out by Pickford, and the Everton goalkeeper also saved well from Keane Lewis-Potter to preserve his 12th clean sheet of the campaign.

source – BBC

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