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Everton pull five points clear of relegation with crucial win over Forest

Everton pull five point clear of relegation with crucial win over Forest

Everton clawed their way back from the relegation mire and boosted their survival prospects with a crucial 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in a tense relegation six-pointer.

Optimism has been in short supply for both sides in recent weeks. They’ve been grappling with points deductions and poor form and desperately needed a win to keep their Premier League hopes alive.

Forest started on the front foot, with Jordan Pickford forced into a sharp save to deny Neco Williams in the opening minutes. Everton responded with a chance of their own, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s header from Dwight McNeil’s cross found the gloves of Matz Sels.

The Toffees broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark. Idrissa Gueye pounced on a headed clearance from Ola Aina, unleashing a well-controlled strike that found the bottom corner.

Despite some nervy moments, Pickford stood tall for Everton with a magnificent save from point-blank range to deny Chris Wood on his 250th Premier League appearance for the Merseysiders.

Ashley Young was at the centre of two controversial Forest penalty shouts that were waved away. The first involved a challenge on Giovanni Reyna, while the second was a handball claim against Callum Hudson-Odoi that seemed more clear-cut.

Everton survived those twitchy moments and preserved their lead heading into the interval, but Forest started the second period with renewed vigour.

With their Premier League status on the line, Nuno Espirito Santo would have been pleased with his side’s revival. But they couldn’t find a leveller as Morgan Gibbs-White spurned a glorious chance, firing wide from a promising position.

Everton capitalised on Forest’s miss, making the Tricky Trees pay for their wastefulness in the final third by doubling their advantage with 15 minutes to go.

Dwight McNeil combined brilliantly with Abdoulaye Doucoure before unleashing a long-range effort that clipped the post and found its way in, marking his 200th Premier League appearance in style.

Heading toward a precious three points, Everton didn’t emerge from the battle of the PSR victims unscathed, as Beto was knocked unconscious after a collision with Gibbs-White.

He was hurled off the pitch on a stretcher but gave the crowd an encouraging thumbs-up as he departed.

Sean Dyche’s men rode their luck at times, but they did enough to secure only their second win in 16 games, opening up a five-point lead over the relegation zone with just four games to go.

The victory will be a huge morale booster for the Toffees ahead of a daunting Merseyside derby against Liverpool in midweek.

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