In-form Toffees targeting European football

Dominic Calvert-Lewin (centre) celebrating his goal - and Everton's third - against Crystal Palace with Michael Keane and Yerry Mina (far left). Calvert-Lewin's 11 Premier League goals this season are the best by an English striker at Everton since A
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (centre) celebrating his goal - and Everton's third - against Crystal Palace with Michael Keane and Yerry Mina (far left). Calvert-Lewin's 11 Premier League goals this season are the best by an English striker at Everton since Andy Johnson in 2006-07. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has challenged his side to target European football next season after the Toffees beat Crystal Palace 3-1 win on Saturday.

Everton have won five and drawn two of eight Premier League games since Ancelotti took charge in December.

"Since I arrived, the team did a fantastic job," the Italian told BT Sport. "Now we have a possibility to think about Europa League."

Goals from Bernard, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at Goodison lifted Everton up to seventh and within five points of the top four.

Calvert-Lewin's 11 goals this season, the best by an English striker at Everton since Andy Johnson in 2006-07, are clearly a product of the confidence he feels since Ancelotti and his assistant Duncan Ferguson took charge.

"I'm enjoying playing with Richi (Richarlison) since Dunc (who was caretaker manager before Ancelotti's appointment) came in, we have been a partnership - we work together, complement each other," said Calvert-Lewin. "We all know where we want to be and that's playing in Europe. We're in the best position we've been in this season and we have to back ourselves."

Defender Michael Keane, who returned to the starting line-up on Saturday, also highlighted the difference Ancelotti is making at Goodison Park.

He told Stadium Astro: "He has changed little things in the way we play. He wants more movement of players to get in between the lines. Centre-halves to bring the ball out more. Maybe dribble a little bit more before they pass it, just to get us up the pitch.

"And he has brought a lot of calmness. He has all that experience."

By contrast, Palace are nervously looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone. They were gifted a route back into the game six minutes into the second half thanks to another error from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

The England No. 1's place at Euro 2020 is under debate and he let Christian Benteke's shot slip underneath his body as the striker scored his first goal in 1,476 minutes. But Palace still have a six-point lead over the bottom three, but have not won in seven league games and just twice since early December.

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    Only Liverpool (24) have won more Premier League points than Everton since Carlo Ancelotti took charge of the Toffees in December.

"Disgusting. I was disappointed with myself," said Pickford, who later made amends with a fine save to preserve Everton's lead at 2-1.

At the other end of the table, Brighton and Watford did little to boost their chances of beating the drop in a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.

Watford remain in the bottom three after blowing a lead for the third game in succession while the Seagulls move three points clear of the relegation zone.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2020, with the headline 'In-form Toffees targeting European football'. Print Edition | Subscribe