Everton Fall To Luton Defeat
Everton suffered a 2-1 loss at home to Luton at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues allowed Luton's Tom Lockyer and Carlton Morris to convert from two dead-ball situations inside the opening 30 minutes. Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled a goal back before the break to grab his third from as many matches, but it wasn't enough to stop Sean Dyche's side slipping to defeat.
Calvert-Lewin retained his place in the starting line-up for the contest as a reward for his imposing recent displays.
He spearheaded the attack, with four changes from the side that triumphed in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday evening as Dwight McNeil, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ashley Young and Idrissa Gana Gueye all returned to the starting XI.
Luton came into the clash without a win since their return to the top flight, and Everton's intentions to keep it that way were prominent from the outset.
Within three minutes McNeil capitalised on a defensive mix-up in the Luton defence to strike a sublime volley from the edge of the box which whisked just wide of Thomas Kaminski's post.
A minute later Calvert-Lewin jumped highest to head down a great Mykolenko cross, but his effort was too central and lacked the power to get the best of Luton's No.1.
Garner was next to go close in what was an extremely impressive opening 10 minutes for the Blues. He sprinted to latch onto a great Doucoure pass over the Luton defence, then chopped onto his left foot but curled his effort just wide.
The chances kept coming for the hosts, with Doucoure again in the thick of the action. He squared a ball to Gana on the edge of the box who smashed his effort into the Park End, then Onana met a clever Mykolenko flick but also struck his effort just off target.
Five shots on goal inside 15 minutes highlighted Everton's early dominance. But the Blues didn't manage to convert that into the game's opening goal and were sent a warning as the game approached 20 minutes when Luton captain Tom Lockyer broke free from a corner to meet the cross and only marginally headed over Pickford's bar.
Corners were becoming a problem for the Blues with the away side managing to win several in quick succession, and in the 23rd minute, they made one count.
Morris met the initial crossed ball and headed onto Everton's bar, Young tried to clear the rebound but fired it straight at Lockyer meaning the ball ricocheted into Pickford's net.
The away side doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark with another dead-ball situation proving the Blues' undoing. Alfie Doughty's deep free-kick found Morris unmarked in the back zone where the forward fired a well-taken low volley past Pickford.
Everton should have pulled a goal back five minutes later when McNeil sent a great cross into the box that Garner met with his head from five yards out but only found the underside of the bar.
The Blues did get their goal back, though, as the game approached half-time. A close-range Onana effort was clawed away by Kaminski and into the path of Doucoure who bundled the ball towards Calvert-Lewin to smash home from close range. A lengthy VAR review for offside had Goodison holding its breath but the goal was eventually given.
Jack Harrison made his first Goodison Park appearance as he replaced Gana at half-time, but he and his Everton teammates struggled to forge any meaningful efforts on goal in the opening 15 minutes of the half.
Dyche tried to change that with the introduction of Beto for Doucoure just before the hour mark, but as the game approached the last 20 minutes, Everton had managed just three shots on Luton's goal, a stark drop on the 13 they accumulated in the first half.
Beto went close in the 75th minute, but could only direct his close-range header from Harrsion's knockdown over the bar.
With seven minutes remaining, Dyche made another change as Arnaut Danjuma replaced McNeil, but Everton's equaliser proved elusive in an afternoon to forget for the home side.