Everton moved into the Premier League top six with a hard-fought win over Cardiff at Goodison Park.
Gylfi Sigurdsson’s close-range finish was enough to help his side claim three points, tapping home after Neil Etheridge had denied Theo Walcott.
The Toffees dominated possession throughout, but it was in the second half when they put real pressure on the visitors as Sigurdsson also had a shot cleared off the line by Sol Bamba shortly before the breakthrough.
The result leaves Neil Warnock’s men in the bottom three, with just one point and two goals from their first six away matches.
Sigurdsson makes it count
Everton had won their past three games at Goodison Park but were barely troubling Etheridge’s goal before record signing Sigurdsson intervened.
The Iceland midfielder had scored five goals in his past eight Everton appearances and his outstanding form has been a major reason for their rise up the table.
He took a while to get going here, but he was in the right place at the right time to slot home on 58 minutes after Etheridge’s fine, low save.
Prior to that, Everton’s £100m-plus attack had failed to fire in front of an expectant crowd.
Fresh from scoring for Brazil in midweek, Richarlison led the line but he looked distinctly out of sorts against a resolute Cardiff defence.
But Sigurdsson’s goal fired Everton into life as Etheridge was required to make further good saves from Richarlison and substitutes Cenk Tosun and Ademola Lookman.
Rugged Cardiff rarely threaten
Warnock has praised Cardiff’s recent displays and his side offered a decent, if ultimately fruitless away performance at Goodison Park.
After beating Brighton last time out, they sought to win back-to-back games in the top flight of English football for the first time in 56 years.
Marshalled by their impressive centre-back Bamba, they held the home team at arm’s length for much of the match but their lack of penetration on the break cost them.
Their only effort on target arrived midway through the second half when Victor Camarasa’s swerving shot was beaten away by Jordan Pickford.
In-form striker Callum Paterson had scored three in his past four Cardiff games but was well shackled here, heading over his best opportunity with just three minutes left.
The Bluebirds have lost their past four away games against strong opposition in the form of Tottenham, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton.
Next, they host fellow promoted side Wolves followed by West Ham and Southampton as they bid to pick up much-needed points.
Man of the match – Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
What they said
Everton boss Marco Silva: “We deserved the three points and controlled the match. We tried to play our way but we started slowly and against a strong, defensive team like Cardiff, we need to be faster. In the second half, we gave them more problems and we were mature in the final minutes to get the win.
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock: “They were better than us in the final third but I can’t fault my team’s performance. We were very well organised but we need to be a bit more clinical. There were some fine margins that went against us and I wasn’t happy with two incidents before their goal.”
Everton extend impressive home form – the stats
- Everton are unbeaten in their past nine home top-flight games against Cardiff (W7 D2).
- Cardiff have scored fewer away goals than any other side in English league football this season (two).
- Everton have lost just one of their past 10 home Premier League games (W6 D3).
- Everton had 71% possession – their most in a Premier League game since February 2016 (76% vs West Brom).
Everton travel the short distance across Stanley Park to take on Liverpool at Anfield next Sunday in the league (16:15 GMT).
Cardiff are at home to Wolves on Friday night (20:00).
- 8André Gomes
- 11WalcottSubstituted forLookmanat 73′minutes
- 10G SigurdssonSubstituted forZoumaat 90+3′minutes
- 20BernardSubstituted forTosunat 77′minutes
- 1EtheridgeBooked at 43mins
- 5Ecuele Manga
- 23K HarrisBooked at 63minsSubstituted forMurphyat 67′minutes
- 21CamarasaBooked at 58minsSubstituted forWardat 85′minutes
- 7ArterSubstituted forHoilettat 74′minutes
- Paul Tierney
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Everton 1, Cardiff City 0.
Second Half ends, Everton 1, Cardiff City 0.
Offside, Cardiff City. Joe Ralls tries a through ball, but Bruno Ecuele Manga is caught offside.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Lucas Digne.
Attempt blocked. Josh Murphy (Cardiff City) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Michael Keane (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Callum Paterson (Cardiff City).
Substitution, Everton. Kurt Zouma replaces Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Attempt saved. Cenk Tosun (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ademola Lookman.
Attempt saved. Richarlison (Everton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Callum Paterson (Cardiff City) header from very close range is too high. Assisted by Joe Ralls with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Idrissa Gueye (Everton).
Josh Murphy (Cardiff City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Michael Keane (Everton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Gylfi Sigurdsson with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by David Junior Hoilett.
Attempt blocked. Cenk Tosun (Everton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Ademola Lookman (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Greg Cunningham (Cardiff City).
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Cardiff City. Danny Ward replaces Víctor Camarasa.
Delay in match Michael Keane (Everton) because of an injury.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Josh Murphy.
Attempt blocked. Michael Keane (Everton) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Lucas Digne with a cross.
Corner, Everton. Conceded by Neil Etheridge.
Attempt saved. Ademola Lookman (Everton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Foul by André Gomes (Everton).
Víctor Camarasa (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Lucas Digne (Everton).
Josh Murphy (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Everton. Cenk Tosun replaces Bernard.
Idrissa Gueye (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by David Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City).
Substitution, Cardiff City. David Junior Hoilett replaces Harry Arter.
Richarlison (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Callum Paterson (Cardiff City).
Substitution, Everton. Ademola Lookman replaces Theo Walcott.
Corner, Cardiff City. Conceded by Jordan Pickford.
Attempt saved. Víctor Camarasa (Cardiff City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Aron Gunnarsson.
Foul by Yerry Mina (Everton).
Aron Gunnarsson (Cardiff City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.