Josh Maja marks his first start for Fulham with a brace as the Cottagers boost their Premier League survival hopes with a deserved victory at Everton.
The visitors were by far the better side in the first half but were left frustrated as they missed several opportunities to score, with Bobby Decordova-Reid hitting the post and Harrison Reed driving over.
But their dominance was rewarded early in the second half when Maja – a deadline day signing on loan from Bordeaux – slid in to turn home Ola Aina’s cross from close range.
Maja then capped a dream full debut with a second, tapping in after Decordova-Reid’s shot had hit the woodwork.
Everton were poor throughout and although Seamus Coleman clipped the outside of the post in the first half, they rarely looked like scoring.
Joshua King did have the ball in the back of the net late on but it was ruled out for offside.
There is still plenty of work to do for Fulham to escape the drop, with this victory cutting the deficit to safety to seven points, but it will significantly boost their hopes they they can fight their way out of trouble.
Defeat for Everton, meanwhile, means they remain seventh on 37 points.
Maja provides spark Fulham have missed
This was a much-needed win for a Fulham side that has often been competitive in games this season but a failure to convert chances into goals has meant they have rarely got the rewards their performances have warranted.
They had 20 shots on goal at West Ham last time out but only two of those were on target as they had to settle for a frustrating draw, and it looked like that pattern would continue in this game as they squandered numerous chances in the first half.
But with Aleksandar Mitrovic having struggled for goals this season, Fulham have missed a clinical striker who can finish off the many chances they create – but this performances suggests Maja could be that man.
Neither of the former Sunderland striker’s goals were fantastic strikes but crucially he was in the right place at the right time to put the ball in the back of the net.
Maja’s impact and this result could provide the spark Fulham have needed to haul themselves out of the relegation zone.
Toffees come unstuck at home again
Everton are enjoying one of their best Premier League seasons, having taken 37 from 22 games to sit seventh and just three points off the top four.
Despite that, performances like this one highlight a frustrating issue the Toffees appear to have on home soil.
Only four of their 11 league victories have come at Goodison Park, where they have not won in the Premier League since 19 December, and this was another flat performance by Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
This was a far cry from their scintillating display in the 5-4 FA Cup fifth-round win against Tottenham in midweek as they sorely missed Dominic Calvert-Lewin in attack.
They did not manage a single shot on target in the first half and only two in the second half, but both of those efforts – from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Michael Keane respectively – came when they were already 2-0 down.
This was a real opportunity for Everton to underline their credentials as top-four contenders but they came up disappointingly short.
A first for Fulham – the stats
- Everton have lost three of their last four Premier League games at Goodison Park (D1), as many defeats as they suffered in Carlo Ancelotti’s first 17 home games in charge in the competition (W8 D6).
- Fulham picked up their first ever away win at Everton in league competition, on what was their 28th attempt. Coming into Sunday evening’s game, they had lost each of their last 22 away league games against the Toffees.
- Everton have only kept one clean sheet in their last 15 Premier League games at Goodison Park, with that coming against Chelsea back on 12 December of last year (1-0).
- Fulham picked up their first Premier League victory since November 2020 versus Leicester (2-1), ending a run of 12 games without a win in the competition (D8 L4).
- Everton have lost five of their last seven Premier League home games against newly-promoted teams (W1 D1), including each of the last two – 0-1 v Leeds United last November and 0-2 v Fulham on Sunday night.
- Aged 22 years and 49 days, Josh Maja is the second-youngest player to score on his first Premier League start for Fulham, after Collins John v Blackburn in April 2004 (18 years and 178 days).
- Fulham striker Josh Maja is just the second Nigerian player to score a brace on his first Premier League start, following Efan Ekoku for Norwich City back in May 1993 (v Middlesbrough).
- Everton’s first shot on target of the game came in the 76th minute through Gylfi Sigurdsson – indeed, their total of seven shots was their joint-fewest in a Premier League home game under Carlo Ancelotti (also seven v Man Utd in November and Leicester in July 2020).
Everton host Premier League leaders Manchester City on Wednesday (20:15 GMT) while Fulham travel to Burnley earlier the same day (18:00).
- 23ColemanSubstituted forKeaneat 56’minutesBooked at 90mins
- 26DaviesSubstituted forKingat 56’minutes
- 21André Gomes
- 19RodríguezSubstituted forBernardat 68’minutes
- 10G Sigurdsson
- 31Neves Virgínia
- 18LeminaSubstituted forOnomahat 90+1’minutesBooked at 90mins
- 19LookmanSubstituted forZambo Anguissaat 83’minutes
- 27MajaSubstituted forCavaleiroat 73’minutes
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- 29Zambo Anguissa
- Andy Madley
Match ends, Everton 0, Fulham 2.