Everton 1-0 Cardiff: Gylfi Sigurdsson sinks resilient Bluebirds
Highlights and report as Everton move up to sixth in Premier League
By Liam Grace
Last Updated: 24/11/18 6:33pm
Gylfi Sigurdsson was the difference as Everton beat a resilient Cardiff side 1-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday to move sixth in the Premier League.
The Iceland midfielder, ruled out of the international break through injury, broke the deadlock on the hour mark by tapping into an empty net after Theo Walcott's powerful shot cannoned off goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, as the Toffees sealed their fourth consecutive home victory.
Marco Silva's men dominated both possession and chances but Cardiff defended well and had a late penalty appeal turned down after Greg Cunningham was brought down by Seamus Coleman 11 minutes from time.
The result moves Everton up to sixth in the Premier League while Cardiff remain 18th, just inside the relegation zone.
The game started slowly, with Everton well in control and dominating possession, while Cardiff were happy to sit back. Neil Warnock's side defended well - Sol Bamba with some crucial interceptions and clearances - while counter-attacking with pace when possible.
Everton: Pickford (7), Keane (8), Gomes (8), Sigurdsson (9), Walcott (7), Digne (8), Mina (7), Gueye (7), Bernard (8), Coleman (7), Richarlison (7)
Subs: Lookman (7), Tosun (6), Zouma (n/a)
Cardiff: Etheridge (7), Morrison (7), Manga (7), Arter (7), Ralls (7), Paterson (6), Gunnarsson (7), Cunningham (7), Camarasa (7), Bamba (8), Harris (7)
Subs: Murphy (7), Ward (7), Hoilett (6)
Man of the Match: Gylfi Sigurdsson
Andre Gomes, who put in a strong performance for the hosts, fired into the side-netting midway through the first half but there were no clear-cut chances in the match until the 40th minute.
The first real chance was a golden one, with Richarlison getting on the end of Sigurdsson's long-range free kick, but firing his header straight down the middle and into the hands of Etheridge, despite being completely unmarked inside the box.
Everton then had another good opportunity right on the verge of half-time as Gomes burst down the left, beating Bruno Ecuele Manga, and hit a perfectly-timed low cross. It just needed someone to connect properly, but the ball bounced off Walcott's shin and out for a goal-kick.
The second half started a lot brighter as Bernard found Sigurdsson with a perfect pass through the middle on 55 minutes, but the 29-year-old rounded Etheridge only for Bamba to clear off the line.
Former Swansea man Sigurdsson then found the back of the net as Walcott burst into the box from the wing, forcing an excellent save from Etheridge, before tapping into an empty net.
Everton were unchanged from the team that drew with Chelsea last time out with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Gomes fit to play despite being ruled out of international duty because of injuries. Loanee Kurt Zouma returned to the bench after being ineligible against his parent club. Cardiff made one change with Bournemouth loanee Harry Arter coming in for Josh Murphy in midfield. Captain Sean Morrison was okay to start despite suffering a broken nose against Brighton.
Victor Camarasa tested Jordan Pickford from distance on 72 minutes before referee Paul Tierney denied the visitors a late penalty as Cunningham went down from a challenge by Coleman.
Substitute Ademola Lookman could have killed the game eight minutes from time but Etheridge denied the England U21 international with a good save, while Callum Paterson's header in the 89th minute sailed over the crossbar from just a few yards out as Everton held on for all three points.
Neil Warnock: "Probably the most [disappointed] I've been away from home this year. We could have quite easily come away with a result, even at half time I said 'don't think about a point, let's try and win the game'.
"I can't fault the lads, they were super. Such fine margins. Before their goal, there was a foul. You can see the lad, holding his hands up to say he hasn't touched him, a clear sign that he has.
"The players have been fantastic for me. I can't fault them. It's frustrating because I know with two or three more players, if we had them in the summer, we could be far higher than this. We've still got an opportunity to prove the bookies wrong.
"It's not easy [bringing in new players], we're working on it now. We need three, maybe four. We are working on that, but it is easier said than done. The big teams have got 40, 50 million for a player. We're no way near that. We can't spend that kind of money."
Marco Silva: "I'm really pleased. We keep taking good results, with a clean sheet, that is important. Nothing less than what we expected before the match, a tough match for sure.
"From set-pieces, throw-ins, they are really strong, so we did well. I think after 1-0, we should score the second, to be more comfortable but this is the Premier League. We were the better team on the pitch and deserved the three points.
"I know how important results are in football. It boosts our confidence. The players are working really hard.
"We change nothing [for the next few games]. We prepare the game in the same way. This is what you want to do, it is our way, and we change nothing."
Man of the Match - Gylfi Sigurdsson
Sigurdsson put in an excellent all-round performance, helping Everton break down a hard-working Cardiff defence.
He produced the best chance of the first half when he found Richarlison completely unmarked from a long-range free kick, only for the Brazil international to fire his header straight into Etheridge's hands.
Sigurdsson was then unlucky not to hand the Toffees the lead on 55 minutes, as Bamba cleared his shot off the line after he rounded the goalkeeper, but the Iceland star made sure of all three points when he found himself in the right place at the right time to slot into an empty net on the hour mark.
- Everton are unbeaten in their last nine home top-flight games against Cardiff (W7 D2).
- Cardiff have scored fewer away goals than any other side in English league football this season (2).
- Cardiff have lost all 10 of their away Premier League games against the six sides to have been ever-present in the competition (Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Man Utd and Tottenham).
- Everton have lost just one of their last 10 home Premier League games (W6 D3).
- Everton had 71 per cent possession - their most in a Premier League game since February 2016 (76 per cent vs West Brom).
- Since the start of last season, Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored more goals in all competitions than any other Everton player (13).
Cardiff host Wolves, live on Friday Night Football, in an 8pm kick-off on November 30 while Everton travel to Liverpool for the Merseyside derby two days later, live on Super Sunday, at 4.15pm.