Soccer-Perfect Palmer hits four as Chelsea thrash woeful Everton 6-0


Soccer Football - Premier League - Chelsea v Everton - Stamford Bridge, London, Britain - April 15, 2024 Chelsea's Cole Palmer celebrates scoring their second goal with Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) -Chelsea midfielder Cole Palmer scored four goals, including a hat-trick in the first 30 minutes, as his side hammered Everton 6-0 on Monday to maintain their push for a European spot and leave the visitors still hovering above the relegation zone.

The 21-year-old Palmer underlined his England credentials with a classic left foot, header, right foot treble and then added a second-half penalty as Chelsea ran riot.

Nicolas Jackson and substitute Alfie Gilchrist were also on target as Chelsea remain ninth on 47 points but with games in hand on all the teams above them.

"When we signed him (Palmer) he was a great talent," Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino said. "He is doing fantastic, he is doing really well and he has adapted himself. The impact on the team was amazing from day one."

It was a sobering night for Sean Dyche's visitors, however, as the heavy defeat leaves Everton 16th on 27 points, two places and two points above the relegation zone.

"A horrid night, miles away from where we want to be," said Dyche. "The hard yards, simple tackling, basic principles - all out the window and it was a massive reminder of where we are."

Everton actually had the first good chance but Beto blasted over from point-blank range after 10 minutes and it was downhill from then on.

Palmer got things moving after 13 minutes when he nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Jackson and instantly clipped in a shot from the edge of the box.

Five minutes later more intricate passing – albeit alongside tentative Everton defending – set up the second as Jordan Pickford parried a Jackson shot straight to Palmer, who nodded the ball into the empty net.

Pickford also handed Palmer his third goal as the midfielder intercepted a poor clearance 30 metres out and, with his weaker right foot, chipped brilliantly over the retreating keeper after 29 minutes.

CHELSEA SQUABBLE

Jackson made it 4-0 just before the break and Palmer’s fourth came from the penalty spot in the 64th minute but only after captain Conor Gallagher had to intervene to shove away Jackson and Noni Madueke as they squabbled for the ball after the latter was brought down in the box.

The calmly-taken penalty took Palmer alongside Manchester City's Erling Haaland at the top of the league scoring charts with 20 and his tally in all competitions to 23 as he became the first Chelsea player to reach 20 since Eden Hazard in 2018/19.

Pochettino was furious about the penalty taking incident that preceded it, though, apologising for the "bad image" it sent around the world. "I made it clear that I won't accept this again - I promise that," he said.

Young substitute Gilchrist smashed home the sixth goal in the final minute to leave the Chelsea fans dreaming of Europe, and while it might not be a return to the Champions League they won in 2021, it would still represent progress after they looked marooned in mid-table two months ago.

Everton, in contrast, remain in dire danger of a first relegation since 1951 and face a massive home showdown with fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest on Sunday having seen their goal difference, as well as their confidence, take a hammering.

"We underperformed - the most embarrassed I have felt as an individual," said centre back James Tarkowski.

"It shows where we are at today, we can only apologise to the fans who supported us. It is on the players. It is not on the manager and the staff. No excuses on our behalf. We need to brush ourselves down as we have a big few weeks coming up."

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Ken Ferris)

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