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Benitez laments Everton’s lack of focus in defeat by Brighton

CNA – Everton manager Rafa Benitez called on his team to address their defensive frailties after they fell to a 3-2 Premier League defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion at home on Sunday.

Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister scored twice as the visitors celebrated their first-ever win at Goodison Park, while Everton suffered an eighth defeat in 12 league games.

The Merseyside club, who were greeted with a huge chorus of boos from fans after Sunday’s defeat, remain 15th on 19 points after 18 matches.

“The way we conceded goals makes things very difficult for us,” Benitez told the BBC.

“Then the team missed a penalty and it became more difficult for the confidence. They reacted but it is difficult when you make mistakes like we did.”

Asked if the rusty performance in the first half was linked to their return from a 17-day absence due to COVID-related match postponements, Benitez said, “I don’t like to make excuses.

“I think it’s more about that the goals we conceded are (due to) the lack of focus in the first minute and then after you play under pressure. You could see the reaction was there but it is not enough because you still make mistakes.

“We have to focus and start with the intensity everyone is expecting … I am concerned that we have to improve, especially in defence. The team pushes and works hard but we are lacking a little quality in the decisions.”

Everton play at second-tier Hull City in an FA Cup third-round tie on January 8 before hosting Leicester City in the league three days later.

Everton’s head coach Rafael Benitez. PHOTO: AP