Match ends, Everton 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.
Everton produced a dominant display to beat Brighton in the Premier League as they responded well to their humiliating FA Cup defeat by Liverpool last Sunday.
The Toffees deservedly took the lead after 38 minutes thanks to the superb skill of Brazilian forward Richarlison, who controlled Lucas Digne's pass, swivelled and curled an effort low into the far corner past Brighton goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
Everton thought they had doubled their lead in the second half when Dominic Calvert-Lewin bundled the ball over the line but a video assistant referee (VAR) check disallowed the goal for handball.
VAR had earlier been called into action when Theo Walcott broke through on goal four minutes in, before appearing to be pulled back by Seagulls captain Lewis Dunk inside the box.
But the penalty appeal was waved away, much to the dismay of a packed Goodison Park.
The win for Carlo Ancelotti's side means they are 11th, level on 28 points with Arsenal.
Brighton, who remain without a victory at Goodison Park, are four points above the relegation zone in 14th place.
Everton respond the right way for Ancelotti
It had been a turbulent week for Everton and Ancelotti following the embarrassment of losing to a hugely inexperienced Liverpool side in the FA Cup third round.
Director of football Marcel Brands addressed a small group of angry supporters at the club's training headquarters, while Ancelotti spoke to Fabian Delph after he made a "mistake" getting involved in a social media confrontation with a supporter.
The Italian boss said in his pre-match notes: "Today marks the start of a fresh period for Everton... It will take time to wash away the disappointment."
And while there were some boos from sections of the crowd when Delph came on for the impressive Bernard on 71 minutes, that was the only real sour note for the home side.
The Toffess were quick out of the blocks and, after Walcott's penalty appeal was rejected, continued to apply pressure. Digne and the excellent Bernard, in particular, caused problems for Brighton down the left-hand side.
Everton were finally rewarded for their 60% possession in the opening 45 minutes when Richarlison, who has signed a new deal that will keep him at Goodison Park until summer 2024, controlled Digne's pass before curling an inch-perfect shot into the far corner of the Brighton goal.
Jordan Pickford was called into action in the closing stages to deny Glenn Murray from rescuing a point for the visitors. The England keeper dived to his right to stop a strong downward header and secure the win.
This was Ancelotti's third in the Premier League with Everton since taking over from Marco Silva in December and was also the Toffees' 10th clean sheet in the past 16 home league games.
Are Brighton really moving forward?
Brighton were also looking for some form of redemption from this game after they suffered their own third-round defeat in the FA Cup - at home to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.
But the Seagulls have won only twice on the road in the Premier League this season and they were restricted to few chances.
Their best opportunity of the first half came when Martin Montoya's knockdown was volleyed over by Alireza Jahanbakhsh.
Graham Potter's side found themselves with more opportunities in the second half as they pushed forward looking for an equaliser and substitute Murray, who had recovered from a knock to boost Brighton's attacking options, almost snatched a point on 89 minutes as Neal Maupay poked the ball through the Everton defence but the striker's chip over Pickford fell agonisingly wide.
The defeat means Brighton are two points worse off than they were at the same stage of last season under Potter's predecessor Chris Hughton. Like 12 months ago, they are four points above the bottom three with 16 games remaining.
Hughton was sacked after a slump in the second half of the campaign meant they only just avoided relegation. Potter, who has been praised for the way he has developed Brighton's playing style, will hope he does not find himself in a similar fight to avoid the drop.
Man of the match - Bernard (Everton)
'We were determined to have three points'
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, speaking to Match of the Day: "I'm quite happy. For 60 minutes the performance was good, at the end it was normal to suffer a little bit at 1-0 up.
"We were determined to have three points at the end and this is the most important thing.
"The response of the players was good. The support of the stadium is really important for us. When we play here we want to feel at home and I hope the next game will be the same because it is really important."
On Theo Walcott's penalty appeal: "I think it was a penalty, I'm surprised, I think he tried to score and didn't fall down. Usually if he falls it is a penalty. The work of the referee is not easy but maybe with VAR it could be more simple."
Brighton manager Graham Potter, speaking to Match of the Day: "We tried, we put a lot into the game, the effort was there and we hit the bar but we didn't do enough to get that goal. The difference was a great finish and we were not able to execute that today.
"We stepped up in the second half and I thought we were a bit better. You want to come away with something but we haven't and we have to dust ourselves off. At 1-0 they're happy to hang on with that.
"You have to take the positives, it wasn't all bad but if you don't get points you have to do better. We have to be at our maximum - effort wise today we were there but we lacked the quality."
Home clean sheets a bonus for Toffees - match stats
- Since the start of last season, only Liverpool (15) have kept more home clean sheets in the Premier League than Everton (14).
- Everton manager Ancelotti has now registered a victory against 22 of the 23 teams that he has faced in the Premier League, only failing to beat his current side Everton in the competition.
- Ancelotti is the fifth Everton manager to win three of his first four Premier League games in charge and the first since Sam Allardyce (also David Moyes, Joe Royle and Ronald Koeman).
- The home side has never lost in the six Premier League meetings between Everton and Brighton (won five, drawn one), with the Toffees winning all three games at Goodison Park.
- Brighton have never won away against Everton in any competition in their history, drawing two and losing six of their eight visits to Goodison Park.
- Everton's Richarlison has been directly involved in 11 Premier League goals this season (eight goals, three assists), more than any other player at the club.
- Since his Premier League debut for Everton in August 2018, Richarlison has scored 21 goals for the Toffees in the competition, seven more than any other player.
- Since the start of last season, defender Lucas Digne (eight) has provided more assists than any other Everton player in the Premier League (four in 2019-20 and four in 2018-19).
Both sides are in 15:00 GMT action on Saturday, 18 January, with Everton travelling to the London Stadium to face West Ham and Brighton at home to Aston Villa.
- 1PickfordBooked at 90mins
- 12DigneSubstituted forMinaat 85'minutes
- 11WalcottSubstituted forColemanat 74'minutes
- 10G Sigurdsson
- 20BernardSubstituted forDelphat 72'minutes
- 9Calvert-LewinBooked at 78mins
- 4DuffyBooked at 79mins
- 22MontoyaSubstituted forGroßat 62'minutes
- 6StephensSubstituted forMurrayat 72'minutes
- 16JahanbakhshSubstituted forAlzateat 62'minutes
- David Coote
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Everton 1, Brighton and Hove Albion 0.
Jordan Pickford (Everton) is shown the yellow card.
Mason Holgate (Everton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Foul by Richarlison (Everton).
Steven Alzate (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton).
Adam Webster (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.
Substitution, Everton. Yerry Mina replaces Lucas Digne.
Attempt missed. Lewis Dunk (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the right side of the six yard box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Pascal Groß with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Brighton and Hove Albion. Conceded by Séamus Coleman.
Attempt saved. Glenn Murray (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Leandro Trossard with a cross.
Foul by Richarlison (Everton).
Davy Pröpper (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Richarlison (Everton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.