Everton 2-3 Brighton: player ratings, heroes and villains as more pressure piles on Rafa Benitez

The Toffees slipped to an eighth defeat in 12 games despite Anthony Gordon’s double.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin dejected after his penalty miss in Everton’s clash with Brighton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesDominic Calvert-Lewin dejected after his penalty miss in Everton’s clash with Brighton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Dominic Calvert-Lewin dejected after his penalty miss in Everton’s clash with Brighton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Everton’s woes continued into 2022 as they opened the new year with a 3-2 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion at Goodison Park.

The Toffees got what they deserved as Rafa Benitez came under more pressure among supporters.

Everton made a nightmare start and were behind in just the third minute. Neil Maupay cleverly chested down for Alexis Mac Allister inside the area and he finished with aplomb.

Brighton doubled their advantage on 21 minutes with the help of sloppy Toffees defending. A corner was flicked on at the near post and Dan Burn was left unmarked at the back post to head home and double the Seagulls’ advantage.

The hosts had a gilt-edged chance to reduce the arrears in the 25th minute after Anthony Gordon was awarded a penalty following a VAR review.

But on his return from injury after a four-month absence, Dominic Calvert-Lewin sent his spot-kick over the crossbar via the woodwork.

Everton got themselves back into the game eight minutes after half-time when Anthony Gordon bagged his first goal for the club. The academy product’s deflected effort left Sanchez helpless in the Brighton goal.

The Blues got themselves on the front foot but were hit with a suckerpunch when Mac Allister’s unstoppable 71st-minute strike left Jordan Pickford with no chance.

But Everton would again narrow the deficit - and this time there was no disputing the goal was Gordon’s when he swept home Jonjoe Kenny’s cross.

However, Benitez’s men were unable to find an equaliser as they fell to an eighth defeat in 12 games.

Everton manager Rafa Benitez. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesEverton manager Rafa Benitez. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Everton manager Rafa Benitez. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The heroes

- Alexis Mac Allister: the Argentina international stole the show for Brighton. His opening goal was a fine, composed finish having shown the intelligence to latch on to Maupay’s clever knock. Then his second strike will be among the Goal of the Month contenders. Mac Allister couldn’t have hit his effort any sweeter.

- Anthony Gordon: the born-and-bred Evertonian would have dreamed about his first goal since he can remember. Unfortunately, he can’t revel in breaking his duck for his boyhood club as he’d have liked. Still, Gordon was the Blues’ best player throughout. He showed the heart and desire required, as well as quality in the final third.

- Dan Burn: the centre-back’s goal was important. But Burn’s defensive display was perhaps even more crucial. He made a huge block to thwart Calvert-Lewin in the 49th minute while his pressure put off Gordon in the closing stages.

Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring for Brighton against Everton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesAlexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring for Brighton against Everton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring for Brighton against Everton. Picture: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The villains

- Michael Keane: the Everton defender had an afternoon to forget and was suspect for all three goals. He was caught ball-watching for the first while left Burn completely unmarked at the back post. Then Brighton’s third goal started through Keane’s profligacy in possession.

- Rafa Benitez: the Blues boss watched his side yet again show heart and desire. However, Benitez watched his side yet again give themselves a mountain to climb. The tactics deployed in the first half meant Everton were overrun in the middle of the park and the defence dropped to a flat back-five, which invited pressure. Benitez has his detractors and this performance will have only swollen the numbers.

- Dominic Calvert-Lewin: perhaps a tad harsh on the striker. As comeback performances go after four months it wasn’t bad at all, especially in the second half. But Calvert-Lewin will rue the penalty miss in the first period. It would have earned Everton a point.

Player ratings

Everton: Pickford 5, Kenny 5 (Rondon 77), Godfrey 4, Coleman 4, Keane 3, Holgate 4, Doucoure 4, Gordon 8, Gray 7, Allan 5 (Gomes 87), Calvert-Lewin 5.

Brighton: Sanchez 6, Veltman 6 (Duffy 61; 5), Webster 6, Burn 8, Cucurella 6, Mwepu 5, Bissouma 7, Lallana 7 (Lampety 61; 5), Mac Allister 8, Maupay 7, Trossard 7 (Moder 81).

What’s Everton’s next fixture?

The Toffees are in FA Cup third round action. They travel to Championship side Hull City on Saturday 8 January (17.30).