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Everton dent Chelsea’s top four finish hopes

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Chelsea lost some ground in the race fourth spot in the Premier League as they went down 2-0 to Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday evening.

Maurizio Sarri named only two new faces from their 1-1 stalemate with Wolverhampton Wanderers the last time out in the league, as Ross Barkley started and Marcos Alonso earned starts.

Eden Hazard came close to opening the scoring for Chelsea with a curling strike from just outside the box that crashed the bottom post, with Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford well beaten.

Marco Silva’s charges were weathering the storm in the opening half-an-hour, where Chelsea had enough chances to go ahead but they lacked the necessary final product in the last third.

Everton grew into the game in the latter stages of the first stanza and Dominic Calvert-Lewin almost snatched the lead for the hosts seven minutes before the break with a header that sailed over the bar.

After a forceful start in the second stanza, Richarlison finally broke the deadlock for the Toffees four minutes into the second stanza with a close range header beyond the helpless Chelsea shot-stopper Kepa, who saved Calvert-Lewin’s initial header in the Brazilian’s path.

Sarri responded with double substitution in the 65th minute as Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Barkley and Olivier Giroud came on for Higuain.

Chelsea’s hopes a comeback suffered a further blow after Alonso brought down Richarlison’s in the box in the 72nd minute, prompting the referee to award a penalty. Kepa saved the initial spot-kick from Gylfi Sigurdsson but the Icelandic midfielder slotted home from the rebound.

Second-half substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi brought spark for the visitors after replacing Jorginho with 15 minutes remaining and he nearly pulled a goal back nine minutes before time with a looping that was tipped over by Pickford parried his effort over the bar.

In the end, the hosts were able to hold on to claim a vital win, while Chelsea miss the chance to move fourth.