Carlo Ancelotti said his belief that Everton will compete with the Premier League’s top six this season was justified after Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s towering header earned their first win over Tottenham since 2012 with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.
Ancelotti has been heavily backed with the signings of James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan, and the Toffees looked a much-improved side on the one that finished 12th last season as they were thoroughly deserving winners at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“We showed we can compete, which is the most important message, that we can compete if the spirit is good, if the attitude is good,” said Ancelotti.
“I said before the game our target was to fight for the European places. The first game was good, we have to see the second game and the third game, so we have to wait a little bit but I have a lot of confidence. I had (confidence) before this game and I have more confidence now, but we have to be focused.”
Spurs are also hoping for an upturn in Jose Mourinho’s first full season as boss, but the hosts looked short on ideas as they slipped to a damaging home defeat for their aspirations of mounting a challenge to get back into the top four this season.
“I didn’t like my team,” said Mourinho, who complained of the free-kick leading to Everton’s goal and his players’ lack of preparation time in a shortened pre-season.
“After their goal we were poor. We were not physically strong, there was no intensity. The team lacks physical condition.”
Mourinho added Spurs’ pre-season had been hit by positive coronavirus tests, but did not reveal the players involved.
Everton looked the fitter and better prepared side with their new midfield trio helping to control possession, but it was on the counter-attack they wasted by far the best chance of the game.
Richarlison intercepted Ben Davies’s wayward pass and accelerated past Toby Alderweireld and Hugo Lloris before skewing high and wide with an open goal to aim at and Calvert-Lewin begging for a cut-back.
Spurs offered little as an attacking threat, but Jordan Pickford did have to make two good saves before half-time to deny Dele Alli and Matt Doherty on his debut.
Everton surrendered meekly to a 1-0 defeat when they visited the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in July without mustering a meaningful shot on goal.
But the difference a few months and fresh faces can make was on show in the second half as they controlled the game to earn a first win over Spurs in 16 games.
The only goal of the game arrived 10 minutes after the break as Calvert-Lewin rose highest to power Lucas Digne’s free-kick into the top corner.
Mourinho said on Friday he hopes to add another striker before the end of the transfer window to add some support to Harry Kane, but any new arrival will need better service to work with as the England captain did not have an opportunity to get his side back on level terms.
Everton and Richarlison continued to enjoy all the chances as twice the Brazilian cut inside on his favoured right foot and curled efforts just beyond Lloris’s far post.
However, one goal was enough for a statement win for the visitors and the worst possible start for Tottenham ahead of a gruelling schedule as they face up to eight games in the Europa League, League Cup and Premier League in the next three weeks.
“On Thursday we have a knockout game (in the Europa League) so there is not much time to cry or complain,” added Mourinho.