A double from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and a goal from Abdoulaye Doucouré were enough to condemn Fulham to a 3-2 defeat in their Premier League match against Everton on Sunday, November 22.
The Cottagers often looked dangerous going forward, but it was yet another case of basic defensive mistakes costing them.
Fulham got off to the worst possible start, conceding after just 42 seconds. Bobby Decordova-Reid gave the ball to Richarlison just outside the Fulham area, and the Brazilian winger drove into the box and squared for Calvert-Lewin to bundle home from close range.
Fulham equalised in the 15th minute after Decordova-Reid was played in by Tom Cairney, and he slotted the ball home from just inside the box. The goal came off the back of some nice Fulham play around the Everton penalty area.
Too easy for the Toffees
However, the game got away from Fulham in the last 20 minutes of the first half.
Fulham received a warning in the 18th minute when Calvert-Lewin tapped in a cross from the right from Alex Iwobi, but he was ruled offside.
The red-hot Englishman eventually gave Everton the lead again in the 29th minute.
Iwobi, who started the game at right wingback, ran down the right past three players and played the ball into James Rodriguez who sprayed a lovely outside of the foot pass to left wingback Lucas Digne who provided a wicked cross for Calvert-Lewin to tap in from close range.
The Toffees added to their lead six minutes later.
Again, it was Digne who provided the assist, crossing in for Doucoure to head home from six yards out, the Frenchman’s first Everton goal since joining from Watford in the summer.
Everton threatened to put the game out of Fulham’s reach, but a good save from Fulham stopper Alphonse Areola to deny James and a miss from close range from Richarlison meant the score remained 3-1 at half time.
Fulham threaten a comeback
Fulham manager Scott Parker made a double change in the 58th minute bringing Aleksander Mitrović and Ruben Loftus-Cheek on for Decordova-Reid and Tom Cairney, and it proved to be the spark the Cottagers needed.
Momentum swung in Fulham’s direction in the 67th minute when Everton defender Ben Godfrey brought down Loftus-Cheek in the box after some neat interplay with Mitrović.
However, Fulham’s penalty woes continued as Ivan Cavaleiro stepped up to take it but slipped and put the ball over the bar, double kicking it in the process.
That made Cavaleiro the third different Fulham player to miss a pen this year, joining Mitrović and Ademola Lookman.
Fulham did score a second goal in the 70th minute. Good work from Lookman down the right-hand side meant he was able to pull the ball back to Loftus-Cheek in the box and he was able to turn the ball home although it took a big deflection off Everton defender Yerry Mina taking the ball over the helpless Pickford in goal.
That, however, would be where the Fulham comeback would end. They were able to get the ball into dangerous areas but couldn’t muster a shot on goal to trouble Pickford.
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti was able to neutralise the game with some substitutions of his own, bringing on Tom Davies for James and Gylfi Sigurðsson for Richarlison.
In the end, Everton held out, but it could have been so different for Fulham had they cut out some simple mistakes at the back.
Parker sees positives
Scott Parker said after the game: “I take positives from the performance second half but my underlying thoughts at the moment are the first half in terms of the way we approached the game.
“We were second best to a lot of things, but we showed our quality and got out noses back into it at 1-1, but in terms of duels, in terms of 50-50s, in terms of putting your mark on the football match, basics of the game, we didn’t do that well enough.”
Parker reserved special praise for second-half substitute Loftus-Cheek as well. “He came on, made a difference and looked every bit of a top, top player. He got on the ball, was brave, scored a goal and was dynamic and if you get him between the lines, with confidence, he has that raw ability,” said Parker.
Fulham now face a daunting run of fixtures. Their next three games include trips to Leicester and Manchester City and a home game against champions Liverpool, Leicester being their next game on Monday night.