Phil Jagielka may be running out of games in his quest to overhaul the Premier League’s top goalscorer, Romelu Lukaku, but his third in three matches and an incredibly emotional goal by Ross Barkley prompted Lukaku to respond with a brilliant cameo effort of his own to bring a rampant end to another tumultuous afternoon at Goodison.
Historic, too. Lukaku became the first Everton player to score in nine successive home games since Dixie Dean back in 1934. Everton’s eighth home win in a row was the first time they have accomplished this sequence in the Premier League era. The previous time they achieved such a run was from January to April 1990. In eight Premier League home games in 2017 Everton have scored 29 goals, a measure of the progress and overall transformation brought about this season. Lukaku’s goal was his 24th in the Premier League this campaign, his 25th in total. It was an incredible day once more in L4.
Ronald Koeman emphasised the need beforehand to put to the back of the mind the euphoria of last week’s stirring victory over the Premier League champions, Leicester City, and to focus on the imperatives of this game, such as playing with a high tempo and good offensive movement. The Everton manager anticipated plenty of chances in the contest. It would be a matter of being clinical, he said.
It did not take long for the first chance to arrive. Ross Barkley broke through and played the ball to Mason Holgate on the overlap. The full back picked his cross, a low one, directly to Romelu Lukaku but the Belgian could not get the necessary power or precision on his shot to pose a serious question to Burnley goalkeeper and skipper Tom Heaton.
Burnley’s meagre return prior to the game of just four points in 16 Premier League away matches this season (W0 D4 L12) did not do justice to the commitment and energy that courses through Sean Dyche’s team, nor the defensive organisation which the Everton boss predicted would see them closing the gaps. They were able to apply pressure, too, with Joey Barton driving a shot from 30 yards straight at Joel Robles before an errant backpass almost allowed in Ashley Barnes, the Everton keeper being required to sprint off his line and clear the danger, clattering into Barnes in the process.
Everton were unable to impose themselves but Idrissa Gana Gueye’s one-two with Lukaku produced an opening and a shot which he fired straight at Heaton. The danger continued at the other end, however, with a corner kick by George Boyd going all the way to Michael Keane at the back post and the defender’s solid header needed a desperate clearance off the line by Barkley.
Burnley kept up the pressure, too. Matt Lowton delivered a delightful cross from the right which Brady was just unable to get his head to. Then Joey Barton’s long pass in behind released Sam Vokes, Jagielka stayed with him and Robles had to parry his effort away. Uncharacteristically, Jagielka put his goalkeeper in trouble again with a backpass that was short and picked up by Vokes soon after, but the Wales striker's tame was shot straight at Robles.
Everton responded well with a shot by Holgate from outside the area and Heaton had to get down sharply to his right to make the save. Everton’s best chance of the half, it was quickly followed by Leighton Baines floating in a cross from the left which Lukaku, from a standing start, headed over.
Just prior to half-time a free kick by Mirallas from 30 yards struck the wall and deflected narrowly wide for a corner as the Blues pushed again.
Gana Gueye made way for Enner Valencia at the beginning of the second half and Everton had a vigour and collective threat right from the restart. Baines’s free kick into the Burnley box was met by Ashley Williams, whose flicked-on header needed a desperate clearance by the visitors’ defence for a corner. Valencia struck a strong shot from the edge of the penalty area which Heaton had to parry away at his near post. Then, from the corner kick, Jagielka struck, his header beating Heaton despite the goalkeeper’s efforts to keep the ball out, the Everton skipper prodding the ball past him again for good measure.
His cartwheel celebration was the emotional outpouring of a man who gives his all in every game and he must have thought, too, that his goal would prove decisive or at least inspire a dominant second-half display. But Burnley were back in the game within an instant. Jeff Hendrick’s pass to Vokes took the Burnley striker too far wide. Robles followed him to the edge of the area, however, and came sliding in on the wrong side, prompting referee Mark Clattenburg to point to the spot. Vokes took the penalty and slotted it past Robles, who went the wrong way. From being ascendant, Everton were suddenly deflated.
Mirallas had two opportunities in rapid succession which he failed to exploit. A clearance was flicked on by Lukaku to Barkley in the middle and spread to Mirallas who shot straight at Heaton. Then the Belgian came again with a shot across the face of goal, the ball came back to him and he hit the post before Lowton cleared.
Barkley then weaved his magic, coming in from the left to shoot, the ball striking Keane, and then Ben Mee before it went past Heaton into the far corner. His celebration was a sight to behold and, in the Howard Kendall Gwladys Street End and around the ground, the fans celebrated wildly with him. Not to be outdone Lukaku made sure he had the final say, spinning past Keane in a flash and firing his shot past Heaton for an emphatic finale.