Boyhood Liverpool fan Conor Coady headed a second-half winner for Wolves at Goodison Park to push 10-man Everton closer to their first relegation in 71 years.
The England international expertly glanced home Ruben Neves’ cross early in the second half and Jonjoe Kenny’s dismissal following two yellow cards in the space of three minutes saw the visitors coast to a 1-0 victory to move up to seventh in the Premier League table.
Wolves’ captain has now scored more league goals this season (three) than he had in his previous six combined.
Everton, by contrast, have not scored in their last three league games and that, coupled with Watford’s win at Southampton, leaves them outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.
Frank Lampard’s side do have three matches in hand on most of their rivals but a run of just nine points from the last 60 available and only two league wins since September has left a squad drained of confidence in danger of dropping out of the top flight for only the third time in their history and first since 1951.
Lampard had dropped defender Michael Keane and midfielder Allan after Monday’s humiliating 5-0 defeat at Tottenham but striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s illness was an absence he really could not afford.
It resulted in another change of system but Everton, with defender Ben Godfrey making his first appearance since a hamstring injury in Lampard’s debut game in early February, struggled with their new 5-2-2-1 formation.
Only Anthony Gordon, dropping into the pockets between Wolves’ defence and midfield seemed to thrive and was the hosts’ best – and probably only – real attacking threat in the first half.
Richarlison had an early shot saved by Jose Sa from Vitalii Mykoleno’s ball over the top, with the Wolves goalkeeper also blocking Demarai Gray’s close-range effort after Gordon had released Seamus Coleman down the right.
Gordon also whipped in a cross which Richarlison could not reach before Sa but the visitors, who were content to play a waiting game after back-to-back away defeats, were barely troubled.
In keeping a first-half clean sheet Wolves, who lost Hwang Hee-Chan to a dead leg after only 16 minutes, equalled Arsenal’s 1999 record of 14 Premier League away games without conceding before the interval.
That they had only one shot on target will have been of little concern, especially with the way they restarted.
A free-kick was half-cleared to Neves, who skipped past a couple of tackles to swing over a brilliant cross for Coady to glance inside the far post.
Raul Jimenez flicked a snap-shot wide and Daniel Podence, who came on for Hwang, also narrowly missed the target after a driving run as the Toffees struggled to even get a touch on the ball.
Dele Alli was brought on as the home team switched to 4-2-3-1 and, although another body in midfield helped slow the Wolves tide, it had little effect from an attacking point of view.
Even when Richarlison did break clear, to be denied by Sa diving at his feet, it was all in vain as the offside flag went up.
The Brazil international was closer with his next effort – although that was still into the side-netting – and things got a whole lot worse when Kenny was sent off after another caution for a foul on Jimenez.
Lampard had been relying on the Goodison effect to provide his side with the boost they needed for their survival bid but the atmosphere turned increasingly toxic and there were hundreds of empty seats before the final whistle.
It means Thursday’s visit of Newcastle, ahead of an April which includes matches against top-six sides Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and West Ham, is now a match they have to win at all costs.
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