James Rodríguez hits double against Brighton as Everton return to top | Football

Dreamland continues for Everton, back at the top of the league after four wins out of four, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin one goal short of double figures for the season. It was already Everton’s best start to a Premier League season before Brighton were added to their list of victims, but with seven wins out of seven in all competitions, Carlo Ancelotti and his players now have historians looking at records more than a century old.

Everton were not flattered by another impressive scoreline yet Ancelotti will feel there is still room for improvement, especially in defence. Jordan Pickford is looking a weak point, though his occasionally erratic display did not matter much because the visitors had far more glaring defensive deficiencies and Everton were equipped to take full advantage.

“We were disappointed with the goals we conceded,” the Brighton manager, Graham Potter, said. “We contributed to our own problems by not being able to defend set-pieces, and you can’t do that against a team of Everton’s quality. We need to be more streetwise.”

Ancelotti said he was happy with the overall performance but advised caution. “We are really pleased with the start, but it is only a start,” he said. “We have to come back after the international break and show the same spirit and attitude.”

Brighton looked organised and compact for the first quarter of an hour but paid the price for collectively falling asleep for the opening goal. Their first mistake was allowing Everton to take a quick short corner to put Gylfi Sigurdsson in a position to send a cross across the face of goal. Their second was losing the whereabouts of Calvert-Lewin in the six-yard box – inexcusable given the form he is in – so all the newly called-up England striker had to do was rise imperiously at the far post to nod home. Calvert-Lewin certainly climbed higher than Lewis Dunk and Ben White, whose feet never left the ground.

That start should have settled Everton down but they did not have everything their own way for the rest of the first half. First Richarlison departed injured for the second game in succession, caught by Tariq Lamptey in a 50-50 challenge. Then Aaron Connolly popped up to reach a Solly March cross, only to divert the ball the wrong side of the upright.

Brighton levelled through an error Pickford will want to forget quickly, fumbling Leandro Trossard’s less than stinging shot and allowing Neal Maupay to poke the rebound across the line.

It was a soft goal to concede, but not an entirely undeserved equaliser. Everton had not been attacking with any real flair since losing Richarlison, Brighton had been growing into the game and Lamptey found far too much space to deliver the cross that found Trossard, but the home side’s advantage was restored from a set-piece in first-half stoppage time. It was an all-Colombian effort, James Rodríguez sending over a free kick for Yerry Mina to climb above Adam Webster and head home, making it twice the Brighton defence had been undone through failing to deal with crosses.

Everton applied a little more pressure in the second half, and gained a reward when Brighton lost possession outside their own area. Calvert-Lewin slipped in Alex Iwobi but he could not reach the cross, which fell instead to an unmarked Rodríguez, who delivered the sort of far-post finish one would expect from a player of his quality.

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Just under 20 minutes later Rodríguez was doing it all again, his second goal a carbon copy of his first, except this time it was Abdoulaye Doucouré who supplied the cross.

Yves Bissouma’s well-taken goal in stoppage time was the least Brighton deserved for continuing to attack in the second half, but their earlier mistakes had made life easy for Everton, who will need to be judged against better opposition before getting carried away. Liverpool, the next visitors to Goodison, after the international break, should fit the bill.

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