Alexis Mac Allister scored twice as Brighton edged an exciting encounter that saw Dominic Calvert-Lewin miss a penalty on his long-awaited return from injury.
Brighton capitalised on Rafa Benitez’s experimental defensive line-up featuring Seamus Coleman at left wing-back to score through Mac Allister and Dan Burn in the opening 21 minutes.
Calvert-Lewin blasted a penalty over as home side were booed off at half-time but they improved after that and could have snatched a draw had Anthony Gordon’s first goals for the club not been divided by a thunderbolt from Mac Allister.
Alexis Mac Allister celebrates scoring Brighton’s third-minute opener in their Premier League meeting with Everton
The Argentine stole in to convert Neal Maupay’s pass beyond the Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at Goodison Park
The soggy conditions on Merseyside made for perfect knee-slide celebrations as Brighton made the ideal start to the game
Pure dejection for Everton after they concede in another Premier League defeat – they have now won just one in 12 games
Despite their game effort, Everton remain in the bottom six having won just one match in 12 and there dissenting voices through the game towards Benitez.
Everton were glad to see Calvert-Lewin again after missing four months through injury.
But it was the visitors who struck first after only three minutes when Joel Veltman’s cross was headed down by Neal Maupay for Mac Allister to beat three static Everton central defenders to prod the ball home.
Watching on, Everton’s new signing Vitaliy Mykolenko got a sense of the job he’ll have to do as Lucas Digne’s replacement at left-back.
Defender Dan Burn headed home Brighton’s second goal after 21 minutes as they took control of the game at Goodison Park
Burn runs away pursued by Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard after doubling Brighton’s lead on Sunday afternoon
It didn’t take long for the Goodison groans to be heard and worse arrived after 21 minutes.
A barnstorming run from Yves Bissouma forced a corner and Mac Allister’s delivery was flicked on by Enock Mwepu and Dan Burn, all 6ft 7ins, was left unmarked at the far post to nod in.
It was only the defender’s second goal in 79 games for The Seagulls.
Everton needed a quick response to stop the stadium from turning toxic and they should have got it after Mwepu needlessly barged into Gordon and referee John Brooks awarded a penalty after being asked to consult his monitor.
The stage was set for Calvert-Lewin to be the hero but he sent his effort into orbit without Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez needing to move a muscle.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin had a golden chance to get Everton back into the contest but sent his penalty kick over the crossbar
The England striker couldn’t quite believe it as his spot-kick sailed over the crossbar to give Brighton a huge let-off
Match facts and ratings
Everton (3-4-3): Pickford 6: Godfrey 6, Keane 6, Holgate 5.5; Kenny 6 (Rondon 76, 6) , Allan 5.5 (Gomes 87), Doucoure 6, Coleman 6.5; Gray 7, Calvert-Lewin 5.5, Gordon 7.5
Substitutes not used: Begovic (GK); Digne, Iwobi, Gbamin, Simms, Dobbin, Onyango
Manager: Rafael Benitez Scorer: Gordon 53, 76 Missed penalty: Calvert-Lewin 25
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-3-1-2): Sanchez 6; Veltman 6 (Duffy 61, 6), Webster 5.5, Burn 7, Cucurella 7; Mwepu 7.5, Bissouma 7, Lallana (c) 6 (Lamptey 61, 6); Mac Allister 8; Maupay 7, Trossard 6 (Moder 81)
Substitutes not used: Steele (GK); Gross, Alzate, Welbeck, March, Richards
Manager: Graham Potter Scorers: Mac Allister 3, 71; Burn 21 Booked: Webster
Referee: John Brooks 6
To Everton’s s credit, they rallied after the miss with Calvert-Lewin misdirecting a header and Gordon shooting at Sanchez after a good run into the box.
Significantly, the discarded Digne got warm applause from home fans when he warmed up from the bench which was in contrast to boos at the interval.
Everton needed a lucky break to get back into the game and they received one after 53 minutes.
Gordon cut in and hit a low left-footed shot that wouldn’t have troubled Sanchez without a massive deflection off Lallana that saw the ball ricochet into the opposite corner.
It was a first Everton goal for the the winger who grew up near Goodison.
Anthony Gordon threw Everton a lifeline eight minutes into the second-half as they halved the arrears at Goodison Park
The 20-year-old steered the ball home from the edge of the Brighton box, via the aid of a deflection, to offer Everton hope
Gordon was in the thick of the action again when he claimed he’d been barged in the back for penalty, leading Brighton players led by Sanchez and Cucurella to remonstrate with him as he lay on the ground.
Sensing a shift in momentum, Seagulls boss Graham Potter sent on two fresh defenders Shane Duffy and Tariq Lamptey after an hour and they extended their lead after 71 minutes in stunning fashion.
Mason Holgate had made a saving tackle to deny Neal Maupay but the visitors recycled the ball and when Trossard chipped towards Mwepu his first time lay-off was belted into the top corner by Mac Allister from just outside the box.
Alexis Mac Allister looks delighted as he celebrates putting Brighton 3-1 ahead with 19 minutes of the match remaining
Anthony Gordon netted his second of the game five minutes later to set up a grandstand finale at Goodison Park
There were a few isolated shouts for Benitez to ‘go now’ and boos as he prepared to send on Salomon Rondon.
But Everton threw themselves another lifeline when Calvert-Lewin fed Jonjoe Kenny and his low centre was stroked home by Gordon.
That was Kenny’s last involvement as he made way for Rondon with Andre Gomes becoming the final change late on.
But hopes of a point disappeared when Gordon was narrowly wide with his hat-trick attempt and there were more boos from home fans at the end aimed more towards Benitez and the board than the players second-half efforts.
Everton manager Rafael Benitez cuts a lonely and frustrated figure on the sidelines as his team struggled once again
Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure (middle) rues a missed opportunity as Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sanchez claims the ball
Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is unable to divert the ball on target as he meets a cross with a header