Dominic Calvert-Lewin helped Everton end their winless Premier League start in a thoroughly deserved victory over Brentford at Gtech Community Stadium.
Substitute Calvert-Lewin, who had scored just twice in 19 league games since May 2022 amid several injury setbacks, ensured Sean Dyche’s side claimed maximum reward for their efforts by adding his side’s third.
Victory at the sixth attempt, after the club’s joint-worst start to Premier League campaign, lifted Everton out of the bottom three and up to 15th as they seek to avoid becoming embroiled in another fight for survival.
“Progression was the idea [before the start of the season],” Dyche said.
“We know the story of the past two seasons, firstly we need to do better than that. Our performances have been but the outcomes haven’t – it was good today to get the outcome.”
Speaking to Sky Sports, Dyche said: “The bigger picture is to start the process of moving forward. I said to the players, we’re the only ones who can change the story of Everton.
“The fans play their part, but it’s on the pitch you can change stories and that’s our job. We’ve got to change the story, get it more positive and build from what we’re doing.”
Abdoulaye Doucoure’s superbly taken half-volley had given the lively visitors the lead inside the opening six minutes.
However, after Dwight McNeil shot narrowly wide and Doucoure hit the crossbar with another excellent attempt, a below-par Brentford delivered a sucker-punch.
Just 90 seconds after Doucoure’s chance, Mathias Jensen found the bottom corner following a slick passing move to equalise against the run of play.
Everton continued to pose the greater threat and impressive £30m summer signing Beto went close to a first Premier League goal before half-time, lifting a shot over Mark Flekken which rolled wide of the far post,
But it was captain James Tarkowski who took advantage of poor Brentford defending to head home McNeil’s corner after 67 minutes, before Calvert-Lewin raced on to James Garner’s pass to fire past Flekken and seal a much-needed three points.
Doucoure and Beto impress in positive Everton performance
Amid the ongoing noise around Everton, four defeats from five league games ahead of Saturday’s trip to London suggested a third successive relegation dogfight could be in store for the club. However, Dyche this week called for his players to “play with a smile”.
And while uncertainty continues off the pitch, amid a proposed takeover of the club by American investment group 777 Partners, Dyche and his players know they must focus on making progress on it.
At last, the Toffees have hinted at their ability to achieve that.
A lack of goals had been a pressing concern in the early stages of the campaign – Everton had scored in only one previous league game, with two goals in a draw at Sheffield United.
Although they scored three here, perhaps Dyche’s only complaint can be that they failed to add more.
The industrious Doucoure led by example, dictating Everton’s rhythm and producing the early moment of quality to inspire an encouraging performance that Dyche will desperately hope can kickstart his side’s campaign.
Doucoure was inches away from chasing a hat-trick after 26 minutes – before Jensen dealt a harsh reminder of the Premier League’s punishing nature by converting Brentford’s first chance of note.
But Everton continued to play positively, and with no shortage of belief, to earn a first league win since beating Bournemouth to secure their Premier League safety on the final day of last season.
In a match full of positives for the away side there was yet another promising display by Beto, whose hard work and ability to win duels created space for those around him to exploit.
Calvert-Lewin, on his 250th club career appearance, added the finishing touch after great work by Garner to dispossess Nathan Collins. It provided the perfect end to a hugely satisfying evening for Dyche.
“They are hard yards when you’re not winning games,” Dyche told BBC Sport. “We are still a work in progress. It is a stepping stone. These are all building blocks.”
On Calvert-Lewin, Dyche added: “He is a very good player and he has had a very frustrating period. It’s been a very hard period for him, but he has stuck at it and he will get fitter and sharper.”
Rare off day for disappointing Brentford
This was an uncharacteristic Brentford performance and manager Thomas Frank will hope his side offer an immediate response after slumping to successive defeats following an unbeaten first four games.
The Bees were dealt a setback in the warm-up when Kevin Schade suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Keane Lewis-Potter.
Lewis-Potter wasted no time announcing himself – the 22-year-old’s threatening run leading to Ashley Young being shown a yellow card after 38 seconds – while he also missed a chance under pressure from Tarkowski.
But those flashes, along with Jensen’s equaliser and the passing sequence preceding it, proved rare moments of promise.
Brentford, in the ongoing absence of banned talisman Ivan Toney, struggled to assert themselves throughout a frustrating evening and could have few complaints about the result.
They now sit just two points ahead of Everton, perched in 13th place following back-to-back defeats.
“First and foremost Everton deserved to win. We performed badly. This was very unlike us and these fantastic players that we played like that today,” Frank said.
“This group of players have been good at bouncing back. It’s very important we do so again.”