Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the double as Everton beat Fulham
Everton end three-game losing streak with 3-2 win at Craven Cottage
Everton's in-form striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted a brace and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure scored his first goal for the club as they beat Fulham 3-2 to return to winning ways in the Premier League.
Everton's rise to the top of the table last month delighted supporters but the early optimism had faded somewhat after three straight defeats before the encounter at Craven Cottage. Carlo Ancelotti's side did not wait long to reignite their season.
Brazilian forward Richarlison, returning from a three-match ban, picked up a loose ball and ran wide to cross for Calvert-Lewin who tapped in his ninth league goal of the campaign 42 seconds into the contest.
Fulham hit back through Bobby Decordova-Reid's neat finish on 15 minutes but Everton continued to threaten and were unlucky not go ahead 2-1 as Calvert-Lewin's effort was chalked off for offside and Richarlison's low shot was pushed away.
The visitors carved Fulham open again as Alex Iwobi switched play from the right and James Rodriguez fed Lucas Digne, who produced a first-time ball for Calvert-Lewin to stroke in and top the season's scoring charts.
Digne looked lively in an advanced role and was involved in Everton's third, firing in a cross for Doucoure to head home in the 35th minute and open his Toffees account after joining from Watford in the close season.
After a three-game losing streak dented their bid to finish in the top four, Everton are up to sixth place.
"The most important part of the game was to be back to winning," Ancelotti told BBC Sport.
"We lost energy in the second half, the players were tired. I changed to put more fresh legs on the pitch but we lost a bit of quality and we had to defend as a result. But in the end it went well."
Everton lined up with a back three with Alex Iwobi asked to fill in at right-wing back with Seamus Coleman and Jonjoe Kenny absent.
The Nigerian midfielder has failed to hold down a regular starting berth since his move from Arsenal in August 2019 but produced arguably his best display in a Toffees shirt.
"Alex Iwobi played well, like the others played really well. I am pleased for him," Ancelotti added. "In that wing-back position he can show his quality."
Fulham pulled one back shortly after Ivan Cavaleiro slipped and missed a penalty in the second half, as substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored via a deflection off Everton defender Yerry Mina to ensure a tight finish.
"There were individual errors but I'm not looking at that," Fulham boss Scott Parker said. "Second half there was a reaction but it shouldn't come from a rollicking at half time."
Fulham squandered a chance to get back in the match after 68 minutes when Ben Godfrey gave away a penalty with a trip on Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Ademola Lookman had missed embarrassingly from the spot against West Ham in Fulham's previous game, so Ivan Cavaleiro stepped up, but the winger slipped as he took his kick and the ball flew high over the bar.
"I don't think you could write it. 'Cav' was the penalty taker, we worked on it this week," Parker said. "Like I said it after the last time, you can miss penalties and he slipped. It is one of them things."
Loftus-Cheek lifted Fulham's sinking morale in the 70th minute when he met Lookman's pass with a shot that deflected in off Yerry Mina.
Fulham remain one place above the relegation zone after their third defeat in four games.
Updated: November 22, 2020 07:29 PM