An already relegated Fulham side earned their first win since January and Scott Parker’s first victory in five attempts after beating Everton 2-0 at Craven Cottage.
Fulham were the better side in the first half and perhaps deserved a lead going into the break yet it didn’t take them long as the second half began Tom Cairney opened the scoring with a neat finish into the bottom left corner just thirty seconds into the half.
It was Ryan Babel with the assist who then turned goalscorer as Everton were caught on the counter-attack which finished in the Dutch international dinking the ball over England’s Jordan Pickford.
The goals clearly shocked Everton who failed to get into the game from the start, ending their three-match winning streak in disappointing fashion.
Marco Silva’s side only had one significant chance to get back into the game as they unlocked a fairly solid Fulham defense; Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked the ball past Sergio Rico and as the striker wheeled away to celebrate the ball veered away from the goal and clipped the post which epitomised Everton’s afternoon.
The win means little for Fulham other than to prove that they can compete against teams in the Premier League. Meanwhile, the loss for Everton means that they have squandered a chance to go seventh with Leicester and Wolves both losing.
Nothing comes easy for the Toffees
Everton’s problem may have been that they took the challenge of Fulham lightly. With the London side relegated after a 4-1 thumping by Watford, most would have expected an easy win for the Blues given the two sides forms.
This was not how it played out however as the Cottagers had a point to prove. They looked a little slack at the start of the game but with a high-press led by an excellent Aleksandar Mitrovic who unsettled an unfamiliar defensive partnership of Phil Jagielka and Kurt Zouma, they had a chance.
Silva’s side did not just struggle in defence but they suffered all throughout the pitch; Andre Gomes was unusually quiet and the successful winger and full-back combinations used to good effect so many times this campaign did not get going at all.
The result was a credit to a determined Fulham who got their tactics right as they stifled an in-form Everton team and earned a deserved victory.
Ironic Fulham win
With Fulham being relegated last time out, the win on Saturday will be a bittersweet one for the fans as they have not won a game since January which ultimately led to their relegation from the Premier League.
This win unfortunately has come too late into the campaign but shows that the club are moving in the right direction. Undoubtedly life in the Championship will mean that they will lose some of their top players as they must adapt in the second-tier of English football.
On Saturday though, Fulham looked very good and if they can keep the base of their team they could be able to bounce back with parachute payments and work their way back into the league.
Everton miss chance to go seventh
The loss against Fulham sees Everton remain behind Wolves and Leicester who both lost this weekend and Everton fans will feel like this was the best chance their team had to take the last Europa League spot and begin to pull away from the other teams.
Everton now have to play Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Burnley and Tottenham in a run in which they need to pick up as many points as possible if they are to finish seventh. The loss to Fulham was probably their easiest chance to pick up three points and Everton have now raised the pressure of the last four games.
Everton’s inability to come back
An interesting statistic emerged on Saturday after Everton conceded the first goal – the Blues have not won a game this season in which they have conceded first.
This highlights a lack of grit or perhaps a lack of composure that Everton need to find if they are to begin to compete for the top six. Everton’s attempt to get back into the game flattered to deceive as they looked limited going forward and Gylfi Sigurdsson had a poor game that saw him substituted early.
Even when Everton put two strikers upfront adding Cenk Tosun to the lineup they were unable to break Fulham down. Marco Silva will not be happy with this statistic and will look to rectify it. Perhaps it comes from having a fairly young and inexperienced Premier League team and this quality will be something that emerges as they begin to gel more.
Could Scott Parker be the next Fulham boss?
Scott Parker has been the assistant manager at Fulham in the Championship and during two different managerial spells this season. When a figure remains a constant in periods of change, it tends to suggest that they are popular at the club.
With his time playing at the club he clearly has the respect of the fans and his players. On Saturday Fulham played as if they believed in their manager, something that has been lacking in their performances this season.
As Fulham are returning to the Championship, it may be cheaper to back Scott Parker and also rely on his relationships with the team and club community. With the demand for more English managers in British football, should Scott Parker be given the chance to manage Fulham in the Championship?
Man of the Match – Aleksandar Mitrovic
Although this award could have been given to Ryan Babel for a goal and an assist, it was the front man who caused Everton the most problems. He hit the crossbar in the first half and was a handful for 90 minutes. Without his presence spearheading the attack, Fulham may not have executed their game plan. The Serbian may not be playing in the Championship next season if he can consistently play as well as he did on Saturday.