Goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave Everton a hard-fought win at Leeds United to take the Toffees sixth in the Premier League.
The visitors took a ninth-minute lead when Lucas Digne’s excellent low cross from the left flank was steered first time into the net by an unmarked Sigurdsson.
Leeds came close to equalising but Ezgjan Alioski volleyed against the post and Pascal Struijk’s header was acrobatically tipped over by Everton goalkeeper Robin Olsen.
England striker Calvert-Lewin then grabbed his 12th Premier League goal of the season with a close-range diving header after Ben Godfrey had flicked on Sigurdsson’s left-wing corner.
But Leeds were the better side in the second half and Raphinha pulled one back with a calm finish from Patrick Bamford’s pass, although the hosts could not grab an equaliser.
The victory moves the Toffees above Chelsea and Tottenham, who meet on Thursday.
Everton’s revival under Ancelotti continues
Everton had to work hard to claim their 11th league win of the season and the result continues their impressive revival over the past 14 months.
In December 2019, they were in the bottom three when Marco Silva was sacked, with caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson taking them up the table before Carlo Ancelotti got the job.
Ancelotti guided them to 12th last season and they have built on that in 2020-21 and are now in contention to qualify for European football after a three-season absence.
Calvert-Lewin has been key to Everton’s success and he made a return to goalscoring form after seven league games without a goal.
“Sometimes you just have to keep plugging along and I didn’t stop believing that the goals would come again,” said Calvert-Lewin, who has played five times for England.
“They [Ancelotti and coach Ferguson] have just told me to continue the belief I had in myself and it has worked wonders and gave me the confidence to keep going.
“We’ve frustrated ourselves when we have dropped points and we want to stay in contention for the Champions League.”
Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, with 15, has scored more league goals than Calvert-Lewin, who netted his 12th in 19 league matches with his diving header from Sigurdsson’s corner late in the first half.
Iceland midfielder Sigurdsson had earlier put Everton ahead as he got free of his marker to finish from eight yards after Digne’s brilliant cross from the left.
With Leeds pushing for an equaliser, Calvert-Lewin had a chance to score his second of the night after a quick counter-attack, but could not beat home goalkeeper Illan Meslier, although the miss did not prove costly.
Ancelotti handed a late debut to Joshua King, the Norway striker signed from Bournemouth on transfer deadline day, and he helped his team see out the victory.
This win means Everton have picked up 16 points from their last six away matches and only Manchester United and Leicester have won more games away from home.
Back-up keeper Olsen frustrates Leeds
Leeds were playing at home for only the second time in seven matches and were doing so on a newly-installed pitch, which had been bought for £300,000 from Tottenham.
However, they fell behind after only nine minutes and had chances to equalise but were repeatedly denied by a brilliant performance from Everton goalkeeper Olsen, who was only playing as England’s Jordan Pickford was ruled out with a rib injury.
The Sweden international saved efforts from Mateusz Klich and Struijk, although Olsen was relieved when the post came to his rescue to keep out Alioski’s brilliantly-struck volley from 20 yards direct from a deep corner.
Leeds had only conceded six goals in their past six league games and boss Marcelo Bielsa will be angry with his side’s defending, which gave Everton a generous two-goal lead at half-time.
Bielsa’s attacking, entertaining side were back in it within four minutes of the restart as Raphinha passed the ball into the net after being set up from Bamford.
But once again Leeds could not get a leveller with Olsen making three superb saves in the space of two minutes, to keep out a deflected effort, Raphinha’s follow-up and a well-hit 20-yard strike from Jack Harrison.
Top goalscorer Bamford, with 11 Premier League goals to his name in 2020-21, had a chance to get his side a point but his looping header went just over on a frustrating evening for Leeds.
Four away wins in a row for Everton – the stats
- Everton have won four consecutive away matches in the top flight for the first time since December 1985 under Howard Kendall.
- Everton’s five league wins at Elland Road have come in 1926, 1939, 1951, 2002 and 2021. Coming into this game they had won just one of their last 37 top-flight away games against Leeds.
- Leeds United have conceded 17 goals via set-pieces in the Premier League this season (including penalties), the most of any side.
- Leeds have lost five of their 10 league matches at Elland Road this season (won three, drew two) – a Marcelo Bielsa side last lost more home league matches in a single campaign in 2012-13 with Athletic Bilbao in La Liga (eight).
- Leeds have gone 12 league games without a draw within a single top-flight campaign for the first time since October 1999 to February 2000 (13 games).
- Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored nine headed goals in the Premier League since the start of last season; the only player in Europe’s top five leagues with more over this period is Robert Lewandowski (12).
- Everton’s Lucas Digne has six assists in the Premier League this season, the most of any defender. Since he joined Everton for the 2018-19 campaign, the only two defenders with more Premier League assists than himself (17) are Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson (both 28).
- Raphinha became the second Leeds United player to score home and away against Everton in a single Premier League campaign after Michael Bridges in 1999-2000.
‘A difficult game against a difficult team’ – what they said
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, speaking to BBC Sport: “The two goals they scored were preventable. The first 30 minutes of the game was good for us and the second half as well. We managed to find goalscoring opportunities and avoid a third goal. Finally we didn’t manage the second goal.
“It is true they played an energetic game. Maybe the fact they were in front allowed us to take the initiative.
“After they were winning by two goals they gave us the ball and started defending in their own half. The amount of goalscoring opportunities we created makes us think we should have had a draw or win.”
Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, speaking to BBC Sport: “It’s special because it was a difficult game against a difficult team. We did really well in the first half. Second half was more difficult because we conceded early. To arrive at the end of game was not easy.
“The sacrifice, concentration and motivation was good. I’m really pleased with the reaction after the [home 2-0] Newcastle defeat.
“The plan was to be intelligent in the game and defend well and find the opportunity to counter-attack. They push a lot of players in front.
“We lost a little bit of confidence after the goal. But this team is showing when they defend we are comfortable.
“We have better luck away from home. I hope [next opponents] Manchester United scored all their goals against Southampton.”
Leeds are at Elland Road again next time out when they entertain Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Monday (20:00 GMT), before an away league game at Arsenal on Sunday, 14 February.
Everton play at Manchester United in the league on Saturday (20:00), then have a home tie against Tottenham in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday, 10 February (20:15) before they face Fulham at home in the Premier League four days later (19:00).
- 2AylingBooked at 79mins
- 10AlioskiSubstituted forHernándezat 78′minutes
- 43KlichSubstituted forRobertsat 69′minutes
- 22HarrisonBooked at 16minsSubstituted forHélder Costaat 87′minutes
- 17Hélder Costa
- 33OlsenBooked at 90mins
- 4HolgateBooked at 89mins
- 22GodfreyBooked at 90mins
- 21André Gomes
- 17IwobiSubstituted forKingat 87′minutes
- 10G SigurdssonSubstituted forDaviesat 89′minutes
- 7RicharlisonSubstituted forKeaneat 80′minutes
- 31Neves Virgínia
Match ends, Leeds United 1, Everton 2.
Second Half ends, Leeds United 1, Everton 2.
Attempt missed. Tyler Roberts (Leeds United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Patrick Bamford.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Michael Keane.
Attempt blocked. Luke Ayling (Leeds United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Robin Olsen (Everton) is shown the yellow card.
Ben Godfrey (Everton) is shown the yellow card.
Substitution, Everton. Tom Davies replaces Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Mason Holgate (Everton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Raphinha (Leeds United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Mason Holgate (Everton).
Substitution, Leeds United. Hélder Costa replaces Jack Harrison.
Substitution, Everton. Joshua King replaces Alex Iwobi.
Attempt saved. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Abdoulaye Doucouré with a through ball.
Tyler Roberts (Leeds United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Yerry Mina (Everton).
Attempt saved. Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Abdoulaye Doucouré.
Substitution, Everton. Michael Keane replaces Richarlison.
Luke Ayling (Leeds United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Luke Ayling (Leeds United).