By Sedara Philip
Everton produced a superb display of counter-attacking to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone with a stunning victory that dented Brighton’s European ambitions.
An extraordinary first half saw the visitors go ahead after just 34 seconds, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin squaring for Abdoulaye Doucoure to tap in after Seagulls captain Lewis Dunk had been badly caught out
Mali midfielder Doucoure added Everton’s second just before the half-hour mark with a precise volley, into the right corner from Dwight McNeil’s cross.
McNeil was then heavily involved as Sean Dyche’s side extended their lead, driving towards the byeline and seeing his low cross deflect off the foot of Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele into the back of the net.
A shambolic first period saw Brighton booed off at the interval, fortunate not to have suffered the embarrassment of being four goals down, with Dunk blocking James Garner’s close-range effort on the stroke of half-time.
A mightily impressive performance from Everton, who repeatedly threatened on the break during the first half and defended stoutly in the second, saw them add their fourth when McNeil raced on to Alex Iwobi’s incisive pass to round Steele and slot into an empty net.
Roberto de Zerbi’s side, who were much improved after making four half-time changes, saw substitute Evan Ferguson (twice) and Alexis Mac Allister hit the woodwork, before they finally managed a scrappy consolation with Kaoru Mitoma’s sliding effort rebounding off the post and bouncing in off Mac Allister.
A wonderful McNeil effort in added time, that flew into the top corner, ensured Everton had the final say as they moved out of the drop zone in style, to sit 16th in the table after leapfrogging Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Leicester City.