Carlo Ancelotti credited Everton’s returning fans with making the difference after his players put their home woes aside to keep slim European hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Wolves.
A crowd of 6,500 at Goodison Park saw Richarlison’s 48th-minute header make the difference, ending a run of five home games without a win and ensuring the Toffees did not lose more than half their Goodison league fixtures in the season as a whole.
But it was only a sixth home win of the campaign, with three of those coming when at least some fans were on hand – Everton beat both Chelsea and Arsenal in front of 2,000 supporters back in December.
“I think the supporters helped us a lot,” Ancelotti said. “It makes sense when you see that in three games at home with supporters we had three wins, so that means something.
“We are really pleased that we gave to them three points at the end of the season because we didn’t have a good run at home.”
Coupled with Tottenham’s home defeat to Aston Villa, the victory keeps Everton in the race for a Europa League spot, albeit on the outside looking in given their relatively poor goal difference and with a final-day trip to Manchester City looming on Sunday.
“I think the dream is still alive,” Ancelotti added. “We don’t have a lot of possibility but for sure we are going to give our all with the small possibility we have in the last game.
“It will be the most difficult game but for sure we are going to put all our energy into trying to do our best in this game.”
Wolves have struggled for goals all season in the absence of talisman Raul Jimenez, and failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance as Jordan Pickford saved well from Morgan Gibbs-White and Adama Traore.
But boss Nuno Espirito Santo came away happy with the performance of his players, even as he put Richarlison’s goal down to an individual error.
“It was a good performance, especially in the first half,” the Portuguese said. “We were really organised, pressing high, good combinations, there were a lot of good things.
“Unfortunately we started (the second half) very badly. The set-piece requires more focus, attention and determination and the game changed from there.
“Everton are a very good team, especially in the final third with the quality they have and at that moment the game starts to go up and down, but overall there were very good individual performances from the players.
“Of course the set-piece is about individual tasks in that moment and we made a mistake there.”
However, a seventh defeat in 14 away league games – coupled with Aston Villa’s win at Tottenham – means Wolves can no longer finish higher than 12th this season.
“We have to reflect on many things,” Nuno said. “It has been a very difficult season for everybody, not only us but for society. We are delighted fans are coming back and things are getting back to normal but when we look back there were very difficult moments.
“I’m proud of the way we were able to bounce back from some difficult moments in our game and with injuries. Now we go to the final game.
“We want to give the fans a good game. They deserve it, they’ve been waiting so long.”