Richarlison piles pressure on Liverpool after scoring Everton winner at West Brom
Forty-three seconds is all it required for Carlo Ancelotti’s latest masterstroke to propel Everton further into the scramble for a Champions League place. With Everton underwhelming and appearing devoid of inspiration, Ancelotti introduced Gylfi Sigurdsson and was instantly rewarded as the substitute’s wonderful cross presented Richarlison with his sixth goal in six games. Richarlison’s header lifted Everton above Liverpool and Chelsea into fourth place, albeit only for a few hours, and this was one of those satisfying evenings when a victory was secured without performing at their best. Richarlison key to Everton success — Ancelotti must keep hold of him They have now equalled their Premier League record of nine away wins and qualifying for the group stages of the Champions League, for the first time, remains a realistic target. These moments of magic, when a substitution pays off so handsomely, are pivotal with the race for a top-four finish so tight and eagerly fought. Ancelotti said: “There is more pressure because we are fighting for a European position and now we have to do a little bit more. “We want to step up and compete, the position we’re in is good but unfortunately it’s not the end of the season. “The dream is the Champions League, it would be fantastic to follow this dream. It’s a step in the career of everyone. “The plan was always to bring Gylfi on and with him we are more dangerous. Richarlison is very important for us and he is a top striker.” Former Everton manager Sam Allardyce will reflect ruefully on a 16th defeat of the season, which leaves West Bromwich Albion still some distance from safety. His team had controlled large portions of the match, with an injury-time equaliser from Mbaye Diagne disallowed due to a marginal offside. Albion have undoubtedly improved in recent weeks, with Allardyce having more time on the training ground, but their home game against Newcastle on Sunday is now veering into must-win territory. Allardyce made no attempt to downplay its importance. “We now need to beat Newcastle on Sunday and get closer to the teams above us,” he said. “We were in the position to get more than one point today, but we haven’t even got that. We need to correct that now on Sunday. “We score a great goal at the end and he is two millimetres offside and you realise you are not getting the luck you deserve. “Sunday will be about mentality, grit and determination and the size of your heart. We need to push through the pain barrier. We will still be feeling the mental and physical exhaustion of this game.” This was the first of three successive matches for Allardyce against former employers, and his departure from Everton in May 2018, after just six months in charge, still rankles. He has looked on with envy at the lavish backing his successors have received. Funds have been severely limited at West Brom, yet his signings in the January window have given him hope of another escapology act. Diagne, the forward signed on loan from Galatasaray, is an imposing presence while defensive midfielder Okay Yokuslu provides the hard edge that had been lacking. Diagne forced a fine save from Jordan Pickford in the third minute and West Brom dominated much of the first-half, with Everton seemingly struggling with fatigue after their match against Southampton on Monday night. Ancelotti cut a frustrated figure in his technical area, frequently covering his eyes with his gloves as passing moves collapsed. When Dominic Calvert-Lewin finally did find space three minutes before half-time, benefiting from a deflection, his shot from inside the area was saved by Sam Johnstone with his legs. With Everton desperately lacking invention and guile, Ancelotti introduced Sigurdsson in the 64th minute in an attempt to break Albion’s resilience. It produced an instant impact, with Sigurdsson delivering a perfect cross into the area to find Richarlison. Albion had conceded their first goal in 291 minutes, nearly five hours of football. The game drifted away from Albion at that point, and though Diagne had a goal disallowed in added time for offside – with Everton also surviving a Var review – they suffered a first defeat since Feb 7. West Brom are running out of time, while Everton’s season could yet have a memorable finish.