Everton earned an important and deserved point from a harum-scarum scoreless draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Defender Yerry Mina defended superbly on his full debut for the Club and was at the heart of a resilient Blues effort as the home side built up a head of steam in the second 45 minutes.
Jordan Pickford made excellent saves to deny Marcos Alonso, Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata – but there were terrific performances in attack for Marco Silva’s side, too
Indeed, Bernard was inches from walloping Everton into a lead they could rightly claimed to have deserved with the game little more than 10 minutes old.
Lucas Digne whipped in a corner from the right, earned by Seamus Coleman following some direct and imaginative play from the right-back in tandem with Theo Walcott.
The ball was cleared after a fashion but dropped for Bernard. His cushioned touch 20 yards out was exemplary, teeing up the shot. Bernard thumped through his strike, sending the ball scorching fractionally past the goalframe.
The Brazilian’s ambitious attempt was entirely congruous with the pattern of a frenetic encounter to this point.
Richarlison had a shot deflected wide on two minutes after some slick work in the build up from Sigurdsson, as Everton confidently and quickly worked their way into the final third.
Mina would have scented an early moment of glory when David Luiz got himself in a tizz trying to deal with a Digne free-kick, dipping into the box.
The Brazilian ran under the delivery but fellow South American Mina caught sight of the ball late and couldn’t make contact, enabling Antonio Rudiger to hammer clear.
With Chelsea initially thrashing about in search of their customary fluency, it was a long pass from German defender Rudiger which nearly blew a hole in Everton’s solid backline early on. Morata, though, could not reel in the ball as he jabbed out a leg.
Chelsea’s next effort was rather more convincing, a free-kick from Alonso which sent a few hearts aflutter among the Evertonians behind the goal as it dipped wickedly and flashed beyond Pickford’s right-hand post.
The awarding of the set-piece in the first instance was not without a hint of controversy, Mina punished for a meaty but fair looking challenge on the electric Hazard.
Michael Keane couldn’t generate the purchase to get over another Digne free-kick – given for Jorginho’s swipe at Sigurdsson’s heels with the Everton man desperately trying to wrest free of the pursuing Brazilian.
If Digne’s highlights reel to this stage would have featured a succession of menacing dead balls, then 10 minutes before the break he contributed some top-notch defending for the tape.
The Frenchman positioned himself immaculately at the back post to clear a ferocious Hazard cross. When Mateo Kovacic alighted on the scraps to rifle at goal, it was Digne, back on his feet and standing tall, who bravely blocked.
Chelsea’s loaded armoury of laser-like forwards were starting to assert themselves on the contest now.
Willian floated a free-kick deep into the box for Alonso to drive goalwards on the volley and bring a tremendous reaction save from Pickford.
Morata went over in the box but the contact from Digne, intelligently easing into the Spaniard, was not sufficient for referee Kevin Friend to bow to Chelsea’s penalty appeals.
The quarter hour after half-time was fraught, competitive and jam-packed with genuine openings for both sides. Everything which makes the Premier League the world’s most popular domestic football competition.
Chelsea started it, the increasingly influential Hazard escaping down the left and sending in a ball which Mina contested with Morata. It ricocheted goalwards and was turned behind by Pickford.
Willian saw a delivery zip across the face of goal unmolested and before long took it upon himself to have a go, arrowing a shot from the right an inch past the far post.
For Everton, Gylfi Sigurdsson took aim from 25 yards after receiving a pass infield from Bernard.
That the Icelander was on target with his strike was inevitable. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was equal to it, though, tipping the ball over.
Moments earlier Sigurdsson had been the creator, hoisting a cross from the left which Walcott reached but – in on goal – could not tame.
Another Sigurdsson delivery – this one from the opposite side – made its way through a cluster of bodies before finding Bernard free of attention at the back post. The forward’s feet became tangled, though, the chance went and Chelsea summoned a concerted assault on Everton’s goal.
Mina stretched out a leg to block a shot from Hazard, the ball then plotting a rollercoaster trajectory and compelling Pickford to throw out a left glove and push it to safety.
Pickford saved to his left from a long-distance Hazard blast and Alonso, fed by Hazard on the left, struck the foot of the far post.
Morata was offside when he touched in a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta.
In a bid to push back the tide, Silva withdrew the hobbling Sigurdsson and put on Phil Jagielka to join a newly-formed three-man defence.
It was another substitute, though, Ademola Lookman, on for Bernard who came close to grabbing all three points for the Blues.
He somehow squeezed through challenges from Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Rudiger but ran out of room in the box before he could get a shot away.
One point it was, then. It felt more relevant than that, though – this was a mature and uber-professional performance from Silva’s Everton.
If pushed to select a venue for their first substantial taste of Premier League football, not a whole lot of defenders new to the country would plump for Stamford Bridge.
Especially if they were being pitted into action against this Chelsea, Maurizio Sarri’s freewheeling, unbeaten side, brimful with fast, penetrating attackers. A team which had been scoring goals on its own patch at a rate of 2.5 per game before today.
There is a certain type of character who would relish the challenge, though, seeing only the opportunity to show what they can do in the most demanding of circumstances. To make an instant impression and win acceptance from their new supporters at a stroke.
Yerry Mina, for example.
One fleeting episode inside the opening 10 minutes told us about the giant Colombian’s cool under fire.
With Willian bearing down on Mina at a rate of knots on the edge of Everton’s penalty box, the defender simply feinted to deceive his opponent - Willian completely removed from the picture in an instant - and nudged a pass forward. The Evertonians stacked behind the goal emitted a throaty roar of appreciation.
Mina exhibited his attacking prowess on the global stage during the summer – scoring three times in three appearances for his country at the Russian World Cup - and he was nearly at it here on five minutes.
David Luiz got caught under a Lucas Digne free-kick from the left, the ball then darting fractionally out of reach of the Everton man who was poised to introduce himself to English football in the most decisive fashion.
It was a loose ball from Brazilian Luiz, in fact, which enabled us to have an early glimpse at Mina’s comfort in possession. The obvious – and easy – move when Luiz’s errant pass alighted with Mina was to plant his foot through it. He controlled first time and steered a pass left for Digne, who then built up play from the back.
Mina could count himself extremely unfortunate to pick up a debut caution, too. He confidently stepped out of the back line to check an incisive Eden Hazard run with a tackle the locals would have cheered to the rafters in days of yore – Hazard grounded by the force of Mina’s challenge which propelled the ball 30 yards upfield.
When Willian burst down the right to cross 10 minutes before the break, Mina stood to his full 6ft 5in and acted as a magnet to the ball – powering his header from the box.
If Mina needed to catch his breath during the interval, then the defender was fully engaged in the moments straight after the restart. Alvaro Morata’s burst through the middle was designed to catch the Blues’ rearguard cold.
When Hazard sent the ball over, however, there was nothing to separate Mina and Morata, the ball screwing away from the pair of them and Jordan Pickford diverting it behind.
Mina’s defending not long after to balk Morata at the back post was good, too; his outstretched block to draw the sting from a Hazard effort work of the highest order.
Think of Idrissa Gana Gueye and the image which pops into your head is one of the Senegalese biting into a tackle.
Intercepting a pass through the middle of the pitch, maybe, or indefatigably scurrying across the turf to close an opponent’s space.
The statistics we reach for to analyse Gana’s performances focus on tackling and intercepting. And he is consistently among the best in the league in those respects.
“He rats around and does so much valuable work for us,” Jordan Pickford offered when discussing his teammate’s merits earlier this year.
Gana, though, is proving under Marco Silva that he has plenty more up his sleeve than the capacity to efficiently execute ugly jobs.
He cracked a post last week against Brighton & Hove Albion with an ambitious shot from distance.
Here, in combat with one of the Premier League’s pre-eminent midfield units, Gana showed that while he has a job for life doing the so-called "dirty work" if he wishes, he belongs on centre stage, too.
The 29-year-old consistently made himself available to receive the ball in congested areas, flicking passes around the corner and linking up play with an assurance equal to the more celebrated Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho in Chelsea’s engine room.
Gana is progressively becoming more adventurous with his distribution, too, evolving into the type of dynamic footballer Silva wants in the middle of his teams.
“He is understanding what we want from him and getting better all the time,” Silva observed in the lead up to this encounter.
In one blur of action after half-time, Gana robbed N’Golo Kante – the standard bearer for midfielders of this ilk. Rather than retreat, job done, waiting to break up the next home raid, Gana bombed on beyond the ball.
He didn’t get it on this occasion – but he is getting better and more influential by the week.