DEMARAI GRAY looks at home at last.
The winger continued to repay Rafa Benitez’s faith with an excellent display which included a clinical opener before Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted from the spot.
Gray, 25, has endured one of the strangest careers of the last half-decade, which began by winning the Premier League title at Leicester in 2016.
But despite that feat, his face never really fit at the Foxes – and the same can be said at Bayer Leverkusen during his brief six-month stay earlier this year.
That then led to a shock £1.7million move to Goodison Park this summer with new boss Benitez forced to wheel and deal as cash was in short supply.
Not much was expected given Gray’s last few years.
But now he is threatening to be one of this season’s bargain buys as he made it two goals in as many away games with a jet-heeled opener here.
Calvert-Lewin wrapped up the points from 12 yards – after Richarlison finally relinquished the ball having hoped to take it himself.
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The Brazilian embarrassed himself by arguing with his team-mates over spot-taking responsibilities and earned himself a yellow card.
But despite that farce, Benitez will have been very happy with his side’s work as he out-manouevred opposite number Graham Potter in the tactical stakes.
Brighton were riding high after three straight wins in league and cup this season, and were boosted by Neal Maupay’s rapid recovery from a nasty shoulder injury.
The hosts had the better of the opening 20 minutes, with Maupay blasting over and Alexis Mac Allister seeing a shot deflected off-target.
But after that, it was all Everton.
The Toffees fired a wicked warning shot through Andros Townsend – who was booed throughout for his Crystal Palace past – that Robert Sanchez pushed wide.
A flurry of half-chances for the visitors saw the hosts emerge unscathed – until Gray took centre stage.
The former Birmingham man turned on the afterburners down the left, racing past poor Adam Webster and finding the corner with a fine drilled finish.
In doing so, Gray became the fourth Everton player to score in his first two Premier League away appearances, following Peter Beardsley, Mickael Madar and Romelu Lukaku.
Potter responded by hauling off the ineffectual Mac Allister for Joel Veltman, back after being forced to miss games due to being a close Covid contact.
But it proved to be a disastrous switch as within 11 minutes of the second half, Veltman brought down Seamus Coleman in the box and a penalty was awarded.
That sparked some fun and games as Richarlison grabbed the ball, despite Calvert-Lewin being the designated taker and having scored from the spot at Leeds last week.
It took Townsend to intervene and Richarlison then had a barney with Lucas Digne, before Calvert-Lewin finally had the ball in his hands.
The England man buried the ball to Sanchez’s right and ran off in celebration with his team-mates.
Richarlison was among them, although he had been booked by ref Jon Moss for creating the farce.
Everything was going to plan for Rafa Benitez until star striker Calvert-Lewin was forced off with a knock.
Everton could have had more with Richarlison seeing a late penalty appeal turned down.
But the fine win continued Benitez’s unbeaten start – with new man Gray once again a key figure.
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