Everton 0-2 Sheffield United: Lys Mousset is on target during textbook away performance
Lys Mousset's late goal, after Yerry Mina had earlier turned the ball into his own net, provided the finishing touches to a textbook away performance from Sheffield United at Goodison Park.
Despite intially appearing destined for a long afternoon on Merseyside, as Everton stamped their authority on the opening skirmishes of this Premier league fixture, Chris Wilder's side prevailed thanks to a combination of courage, tactical discipline and good old fashioned determination; climbing to eighth in the table as a result.
Although Mina was responsible for handing United the lead, it was Jordan Pickford, not the centre-half, who should be held accountable. The Everton and England goalkeeper failed to clear as Callum Robinson also attempted to connect with Oliver Norwood's set-piece and left his team mate horribly exposed as a result.
Mousset's effort sealed a hard-fought but, given the grit and later the guile they displayed, deserved victory for United. The Frenchman swept home as Pickford darted off his line, before wheeling away in celebration. But John Lundstram, whose pass prised apart the hosts' rearguard, should have been his first port of call. The assist, against the club that released him as a youngster, oozed quality.
United spent the opening 40 minutes scrambling and sliding across the pitch as Everton seized control of the game. Their main threat was Richarlison, the Brazil international, whose willingness to run the hard yards made him almost impossible to man mark. So United had to rely on their wits rather than positional sense, with Chris Basham making a vital interception to prevent him bursting through on goal during the early exchanges.
Despite periods of resistance, most notably when George Baldock was cautioned for a shove on Bernard, the first-half proved a difficult experience for United. Jack O'Connell was pressed whenever he received the ball. The same went for Oliver Norwood. So, as Wilder waved his arms about wildly in the dug-out, the majority of their passes were either too short or too square.
Still, as the afternoon progressed, a degree of complacency crept into Everton's play. That provided United with a couple of opportunities. But none - until Mina turned the ball into his own net - big or clear cut enough to take.
Four minutes before the interval, however, United's durability paid dividends. Oliver Norwood swept a corner across Jordan Pickford's six yard box and when the goalkeeper failed to get a touch as he was challenged by Robinson, the ball crossed the line after hitting the Colombian's back.
Dominant for long periods, Everton could have been forgiven for feeling hard done by as they entered the break.
But if Wilder feared the opposition would come out all guns blazing after the interval, he was mistaken. Instead, barring the odd brief period of pressure, the hosts' appeared to have been drained of their sense of purpose.
The same could not be said for United, who kept flinging themselves in the way of shots and passes until substitute Mousset doubled their lead in the 79th minute. The strike, officially his first since arriving from AFC Bournemouth during the close season, was executed perfectly as Pickford advanced upfield to try and narrow the angle. But Lundstram's pass, which created the chance, was even better.
Everton: Pickford, Keane, Richarlison, Delph, Sigurdsson, Digne, Mina, Schneirderlin (Iwobi 55), Bernard (Tosun 55), Coleman (Walcott 78) Kean. Not used: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, Davies.
Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Stevens, Baldock, Norwood (Jagielka 62), Fleck, Lundstram, McBurnie (Osborn 83), Robinson (Mousset 62). Not used: Moore, L Freeman, Morrison, K Freeman.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).