GYLFI SIGURDSSON made it a happy anniversary for Carlo Ancelotti as Everton soared into second place.
The Italian boss, who marked his first game in charge of the Toffees a year ago with a win over Burnley, saw the Icelander’s cool finish 10 minutes from time repeat that success and move them within two points of neighbours Liverpool in top spot.
Gylfi Sigurdsson secured all three points for Everton away at Sheffield UnitedCredit: AFP
Sigurdsson celebrates his late winner – the only shot on target after the breakCredit: PA:Press Association
Everton rushed to celebrate the only goal of the gameCredit: Reuters
It was heartbreak for Chris Wilder’s bottom-of-the-table Blades after they showed much-needed fight in this Boxing Day battle.
But it was not enough as Sigurdsson‘s third goal of the season made it 15 games without a win for the hosts.
Having suffered concussion in the midweek Carabao Cup defeat to Manchester United, Richarlison was ruled out for Ancelotti’s side.
The Brazilian striker grabbed the winner when the teams met here back in July, but his absence saw 19-year-old Anthony Gordon handed a first start of the season – although he struggled to make the most of his opportunity.
With Sander Berge ruled out for up to four months with a tendon injury and John Lundstram starting a three-match suspension, the Blades brought Ben Osborn into midfield and Oliver Burke bolstered the attack by replacing John Fleck.
David McGoldrick was shifted into a No10 role behind the forwards and almost caught Everton off guard in the 16th minute with the first chance.
Bursting onto a through-ball from Rhian Brewster, he rounded Jordan Pickford but scuffed a weak finish that Ben Godfrey was able to clear casually off the line. The offside flag might have come to Everton’s rescue too had it gone in.
It was bullish from the Blades and a thundering challenge from John Egan on the right to stop Dominic Calvert-Lewin in his tracks showed the aggressive approach that riled Ole Gunnar-Solskjaer when Manchester United faced them ten days ago.
David McGoldrick couldn’t finish an early chance after rounding Jordan PickfordCredit: AP:Associated Press
Alex Iwobi then tested Aaron Ramsdale with his side’s first attempt, a 20-yard drive that was well held.
After a scrappy, scruffy start affected by the swirling wind and rain, the game warmed up with Calvert-Lewin so close with a spectacular strike in the 29th minute against his former club.
Collecting a long ball from Michael Keane on his chest just outside the box, the next touch was a venomous volley that whistled past Ramsdale’s right-hand post.
It would have been some goal for Calvert-Lewin at the ground where he once dreamed of scoring for his hometown club – something he never managed during four seasons with United after coming through the youth ranks.
Lifted by that moment of magic, the visitors conjured up another opening when the under-fire Ramsdale blundered by fumbling a free-kick from Sigurdsson into the path of Godfrey, but reacting well to block the shot.
Sigurdsson’s 25-yard effort then didn’t curl enough to trouble the home keeper and neither did Burke’s flick after he wrestled his way past Abdoulaye Doucoure in the box.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin came close for EvertonCredit: EPA
Chris Wilder’s Blades have gone 15 games without a winCredit: Reuters
That was Burke’s last contribution as big Oli McBurnie came on at the break and had a penalty claim dismissed by VAR after a slight shove from Keane.
Wilder’s men have racked up some unwanted records during their wretched run of results.
And a fifth successive home league loss equalled a top-flight club record set in 1908 – and gave Everton back-to-back league away wins at United for the first time in 123 years.
Wilder sent on another Oliver, Norwood, to replace McGoldrick as he looked to do anything for the win.
But, with the first shot on target in the second half, Sigurdsson slotted low into the corner after being teed up by Doucoure.