Everton gained their first win of the season at the expense of Chelsea, unexpectedly inflicting a first league defeat since José Mourinho's return to London in a manner that must have had the coach pining for the direct attacking football he once used to advocate.
Mourinho for one would not have been expecting to lose here, and the sheer number of talented midfielders at his disposal meant Everton were second best in many areas of the pitch and never exactly comfortably in front. Yet playing with pride and a sense of purpose that supporters were pleased to see has survived from the David Moyes era, Roberto Martínez's side refused to be overawed and simply made more of their chances. Chelsea created more than enough opportunities without managing to match the home side's attacking conviction, which by the end, with Goodison rocking noisily as of old, was considerable.
"We had chances and chances but we didn't score," Mourinho said. "If you don't score you can't win, and what you create means nothing. Artistic football is no good without goals. Better to win the match by creating little but scoring once, then you have three points."
Everton hardly deserved that dig, but they will cope. With Ramires setting up the first opening of the game for Samuel Eto'o after just five minutes Chelsea attacked confidently and looked to have too many tricky ball carriers for the home defence to deal with, never more so than when Juan Mata skipped elegantly away from attempted tackles by Leon Osman and Sylvain Distin and was only stopped by the solid presence of Gareth Barry providing extra security in his own penalty area. Everton were almost being forced to play on the counter, though that suits them quite well, and Nikica Jelavic brought the first save of the game from Petr Cech with a header from a Steven Naismith cross that the striker would have preferred to have been whipped across a little earlier.
Eto'o put his first serious shot into the top tier of the Gwladys Street stand, which takes some doing and amused the locals no end, before missing the best chance of the first half from much closer to goal. When Tim Howard was put under pressure from a backpass and gave the ball straight to André Schürrle, it appeared all Eto'o had to do was tap the latter's square ball into an empty net. Fortunately for Everton, Barry arrived just in time and one debutant was foiled by another, the Manchester City loanee just managing to get a foot in to block the shot and hear his name chanted appreciatively by his new public. "Schürrle's pass was too slow," moaned Mourinho. "A faster pass and Eto'o would have scored."
In keeping with the pattern of the game Everton broke straight down the field and set up the next chance, Kevin Mirallas turning up on the right to pick out Naismith with an accurate low pass, only to see a snatched shot miss the target from a promising position. Perhaps realising that Everton could actually have taken the lead despite being outplayed for most of the first half, Chelsea stepped up their efforts before the interval, creating chances for Ramires, Schürrle and Branislav Ivanovic without making their evident superiority count.
They were left regretting that when Everton scored with virtually the last action of the half, taking a lead they barely deserved but proving that Chelsea's defence remains vulnerable to anyone willing to have a go. They switched off twice, first to allow Ross Barkley and Osman to find some space on the right and then when the latter's cross was reached by Jelavic beyond the far post. It appeared Jelavic was too wide and too close to the goal line to present a direct threat, but what he could still do was reach the ball and keep it in play, and Chelsea could only stand and watch as a header back across goal was easily turned past Cech by Naismith. Cue Spanish dancers on the pitch at half time, not in honour of the goal but of the new Everton manager, who probably found his interval team talk went with a swing as a result of Naismith's timely intervention.
Eto'o looked in good nick for a player supposedly nearing the veteran stage, though he might have reacted more quickly at the beginning of the second half when Howard failed to hold an Eden Hazard shot and he could not quite fasten on to the rebound.
Again Everton were soaking up a lot of Chelsea pressure, though the visitors were no longer playing as neatly and imaginatively as they had in the first half. They resorted to more crosses, which Distin and Phil Jagielka found fairly easy to deal with, especially as Eto'o was not always in the middle as a target.
Mourinho introduced Frank Lampard and Oscar after an hour for Mata and Schürrle, shuffling his midfield options and keeping Fernando Torres on the bench until 20 minutes from the end. Willian was in attendance did not in the squad. Chelsea still subsided quite limply as the game neared its conclusion and, though they had begun rather tentatively, by the end Everton looked the team in charge, and almost had a second when Leighton Baines struck the bar with a free-kick.
"It wasn't the greatest performance but we showed our character," Martínez said, sounding uncannily like Moyes. "The way we defended was immense. We were more dominant in our previous three games, but this will give us more confidence."
With Barkley visibly growing in confidence and Romelu Lukaku still to come, Martínez is up and running, though there must be more than a few Chelsea fans wondering if it was really such a good idea to let Lukaku out on loan.