A brace from Dominic Calvert-Lewin helped Everton return to winning ways after a five-goal thriller at Fulham, who suffered penalty disappointment yet again.
Carlo Ancelotti saw the England striker net twice in the first half to take his club tally for the season to 13, with 10 of them in the Premier League, while Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first goal for the Toffees proved key in the end.
Fulham had responded well to Calvert-Lewin’s bright opener with Bobby Decordova-Reid equalising soon after, but slack play at the back had them set for another defeat before they were handed a lifeline in the 67th minute.
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Ivan Cavaleiro missed the subsequent spot-kick, however, and even though Ruben Loftus-Cheek pulled one back three minutes later, Scott Parker’s side suffered a seventh league loss of the campaign.
Richarlison returned for Everton after a three-match suspension and his impact was immediate with the attacker involved in the opener inside a minute in the capital.
Decordova-Reid gave away possession and the Brazilian did not need a second invitation to dribble into the area where his centre was bundled in by Calvert-Lewin.
With 42 seconds on the clock it was the quickest goal scored in the division this season and after the perfect start, Ancelotti would have hoped for a strong defensive showing.
Following three consecutive defeats, the Italian had changed formation at Craven Cottage and recalled defenders Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina to play alongside Michael Keane.
Despite having three centre-backs on the pitch, Decordova-Reid found enough space in between two of them to rifle home the equaliser in the 15th minute following a neat one-two with Fulham captain Tom Cairney.
Parker’s side were lifted by the leveller and pushed for a second, but were hit with a sucker punch after 29 minutes when both of Everton’s wing-backs starred to create a second for the visitors.
Traditional attacker Alex Iwobi cut inside from the right and dribbled past two opponents before finding James Rodriguez, who spotted Lucas Digne in space and the Frenchman’s cross was put away clinically by the in-form Calvert-Lewin.
Fulham were rocked but did not learn their lesson with Digne again afforded too much space out wide to create the Toffees’ third with 35 played, Doucoure heading in from close range for his first Everton goal.
Alphonse Areola was called upon before the half was up to deny Rodriguez with a strong hand and it ensured they trailed by only two at the break.
With games against Leicester, Manchester City and Liverpool coming up, Parker resisted the temptation to make changes during the interval but the dropped Aleksandar Mitrovic was summoned in the 58th minute.
It was a double substitution from the Sky Bet Championship play-off winners with Loftus-Cheek also sent on and Cairney and Decordova-Reid the men to make way.
The decision proved inspired with the newcomers linking up to win Fulham a spot-kick with 23 minutes left after Godfrey clipped Chelsea loanee Loftus-Cheek inside the area.
Mitrovic and Ademola Lookman had both failed to convert penalties this season, which saw Cavaleiro take the responsibility, but he joined the duo in suffering embarrassment from 12 yards when he slipped and scuffed his effort over.
Fulham’s disappointment was eased when Loftus-Cheek found the net for the first time in 18 months to offer them a lifeline.
The midfielder, who suffered a serious Achilles injury in May last year, fired in via a deflection off Mina after excellent play by Lookman on the right and with 20 minutes left, the two managers sensed a dramatic finale could be on the cards.
Ancelotti’s side showed an excellent professional approach, however, and retained possession well during the closing stages to end their four-game winless streak.