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Pope: First Goal All-Important

Keeper close to another shut-out before Clarets lose late on

26 December 2019

Nick Pope was disappointed to leave Goodison Park empty-handed after threatening to gatecrash Carlo Ancelotti’s ‘house-warming’ party.

New Toffees’ boss Ancelotti made the ideal start to his Everton reign thanks to Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s late goal in a 1-0 win over the Clarets.

That was the first goal Pope had conceded in more than four-and-a-half hours of football as the Clarets lost for the first time in three games.

The England keeper – who again laid his international credentials on the line at the opposite end to current number-one Jordan Pickford – admitted that Sean Dyche’s men hadn’t carried enough of a threat of their own.

But he thought another magnificent defensive effort might have been enough to gain some reward and frustrate Chelsea title-winning boss Ancelotti’s bid to announce his return to English football with the Toffees’ fifth home win of the season.

Pope comes to catch.jpg

“We knew there was going to be a bounce for them with a new manager. We knew there was going to be a great atmosphere and we expected that and that’s what we got,” said Pope.

“It’s something you have to deal with. In the first half when there was a real buzz we saw that out and got to half time. Going in at 0-0 we were relatively happy to see off that initial phase.

“In the second half we came out with a bit of an improvement and looked quite good.

“But they got the first goal and that was going to be important today.

“We defended really well but we just couldn’t quite put together quite enough on the ball.

“We were a bit disappointed at how we were on the ball. We want to put our own stamp on every game so maybe we weren’t quite at it in the first half in that regard.”

The Clarets slipped to 12th in the table after the momentum of back-to-back wins was checked by an Everton side which moved to within two points of Dyche’s men.

But with a home game against Manchester United just 48 hours away, Pope is looking for a positive response.

“It’s something you have to do in the Premier League. You can’t win every week,” he added.

“That’s the nature of the beast. We’ve got to go again and take that challenge on.

“Big games are what you want and it’s a big game for us and we will go and take it on.

“Turf Moor under the lights is always a great occasion and we want to get back on track.”

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