Frank Lampard’s Everton career got off to a terrific start as the Toffees comfortably beat Brentford 4-1 in the FA Cup fourth round.
He got off to the best possible start as the header from Yerry Mina – only on the field because of an early injury to Ben Godfrey – was the first time the Toffees had taken the lead in a match since October.
But after Richarlison had doubled their advantage shortly after half-time, the former Chelsea boss saw his side put themselves under unnecessary pressure by conceding a second-half Ivan Toney penalty.
However, Mason Holgate’s first goal since December 2020 made sure of progress to the last 16 to prompt chants of “Super Frankie Lampard” from all four sides of Goodison Park – and the mood was lifted further by substitute Andros Townsend’s added-time strike.
The change in atmosphere from the final days of Rafael Benitez – and even Duncan Ferguson’s one match as caretaker last month, when there were protests against the board – could not have been more stark.
Home fans even got to see two signings of genuine quality in Dele Alli and Donny Van De Beek, albeit only as half-time appearances as both were cup-tied after previous outings for Tottenham and Manchester United respectively.
Instead it was one of Benitez’s signings, Demarai Gray, who got the Lampard era off to a positive start against an out-of-sorts Brentford with a number of driving runs at the visitors’ defence which highlighted a change of emphasis from the defence-first approach of his predecessor.
Dele and Donny taking to the Goodison pitch at half-time! pic.twitter.com/I7Zeoaa0Re
— Everton (@Everton) February 5, 2022
Under Benitez Everton frequently had less than 45 per cent possession, but Lampard has tried to immediately put his stamp on the team in the five days he has had to prepare since being announced on Monday, with a greater emphasis on keeping the ball and passing forward.
Having adopted a new 3-4-3 formation with the recalled Seamus Coleman and early January signing Vitaliy Mykolenko as wing-backs, there were obvious teething problems with a number of players looking unsure in their roles.
It made for a scrappy first half lit up only by Mina’s header from a 31st-minute Gray corner which had Lampard leaping out of his technical area.
Just prior to that, academy graduate Anthony Gordon, another bright spot on the afternoon, had fired a shot over having cut in from the right following a neat passing interchange between Coleman and Allan.
Those were the green shoots of recovery Everton fans who had witnessed only two victories in four months, one of which was in the previous round at Championship side Hull, were hoping for following Lampard’s appointment.
Three minutes after the interval Richarlison latched on to Allan’s ball over the top and, benefiting from goalkeeper David Raya’s ill-advised rush to the edge of his area, clipped home the second.
That two-goal cushion lasted just seven minutes, however, as the three-man defence switched off and Christian Norgaard’s through-ball picked out Toney, who was brought down by Jordan Pickford.
The Brentford striker sent the England goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot for his third goal in as many games.
But what could have potentially been a testing period for the hosts was avoided by Holgate’s timely goalscoring contribution when he popped up at the far post to nod in a deflected Gray corner, followed by Townsend’s late contribution.
There was time left for another couple of renditions of Lampard’s song before the long-suffering home fans departed happy for the first time in a long while.
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