VIEW FROM THE BLUE
"I can't seem to save a penalty," joked Tim Howard in an interview with The Independent in the run-up to this semi-final, but thanks to some pre-match homework the American goalkeeper became the hero of the hour for Everton with not one but two saves in the decisive penalty shoot-out at Wembley this afternoon.
And the roof came off the Everton end when Phil Jagielka put his miss from the spot against Fiorentina last year behind him by burying the Blues' fifth and final penalty to seal the Blues' passage to the FA Cup Final for the first time since their 1995 triumph. As a nice bonus, this victory after 120 minutes of gruelling stalemate effectively books David Moyes's side a place in Europe next season ? even if they somehow manage to finish outside the top six in the Premier League, they'll earn a place in the Uefa Europa League whether they win or lose the final next month on account of Chelsea's almost certain qualification for the Champions League.
Amid the euphoria of a thrilling win from the spot, few could be under any illusions that what they had witnessed was a spectacle worthy of either the occasion or the venue. Wembley can't have witnessed many duller cup ties than the one played out today between a relatively inexperienced United XI and an Everton side painfully short of inspiration in the midfield.
Nevertheless, into this bland tapestry were woven moments of drama for the 40-odd thousand Evertonians who packed the away end and comprehensively outsung those in red at the other end throughout. There were the nerves that are par for the course in a cup match, seemingly ratcheted up the more senior figures Sir Alex Ferguson introduced as the match wore on, and the heart-stopping moment when Danny Welbeck tumbled to the turf in the area under Jagielka's challenge after 67 minutes and Sir Alex Ferguson leapt off his bench in a gum-chewing frenzy baying for a penalty..
And when extra time expired and a dreaded shootout against players who were, on paper, technically superior was an inescapable reality, the odds seemed stacked against Everton, even more so when Tim Cahill ballooned the first penalty over Ben Foster's crossbar and then buried his face in his hands in horror at the prospect of having seemingly sown the seeds of his team's elimination. The best drama would be saved for last, though, and it was United for whom unexpected elimination befell.
With a crucial League game against Portsmouth looming in midweek and a Champions League semi final for which to prepare as well, Ferguson had elected not to risk Wayne Rooney's injured foot and left him, Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Saar out of his squad entirely. In their stead he played Foster, United's shootout hero from the Carling Cup Final here against Tottenham in February, the Da Silva twins at fullback, Darren Gibson and Welbeck in midfield and teenage striker Federico Macheda up front.
Moyes's options were far fewer; his only change from the side that drew 3-3 at Aston Villa last weekend was swapping Louis Saha for the cup-tied Jô, so Marouane Fellaini continued in the hole behind the lone striker and Tim Cahill was handed responsibility for filling Mikel Arteta's shoes as best he could in central midfield.
Not surprisingly, the game started in cagey fashion, with Everton plumping for a more direct approach while United appeared happy to cede possession in the opening 10 minutes. Leon Osman dropped a half-volley wide of the post and Macheda flashed a shot of his own safely past Howard's upright in the opening five minutes before both Phil Neville and Carlos Tevez, United's chief threat in the first half, saw sliced efforts drift away from their intended target.
It wasn't until 20 minutes in the first sniff of a goal and it came from almost comical circumstances. Foster tried to be a little too clever for Saha and as the Frenchman slid in an attempt to dispossess him, the 'keeper was highly fortunate to see the ball roll into his arms rather than squirt away from him.
United responded by taking control of proceedings and Welbeck had Howard scrambling across goal as his side-footed cross-cum-shot ricocheted off Lescott and bounced inches wide of the woodwork.
Overall, though, there was a sense that the Reds were weakened enough and impotent enough that if the Blues could shackle Tevez and get their act together at the other end, then the tie was there for their taking. Unfortunately, though, they consistently let themselves down with sloppy passing, by allowing themselves to get caught on the ball, and generally lacking the belief that they could beat United square. Osman and Neville in particular were guilty of gifting possession while Fellaini's display was decidedly mercurial ? neat and potentially productive one minute, clumsy and untidy the next.
Saha, meanwhile, was barely in the game. Plenty of balls were being pumped forward to the front line but Fellaini was, for the most part, the preferred target and the foul count against him for infringements in aerial battles with Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic was growing all the time.
The pattern established in the first half continued into the second but nine minutes after the restart, Everton had their first shot on target when Cahill unloaded from 25 yards and forced Foster to dive and push his swerving drive away from goal.
At the other end, United's first real threatening moment of the second period didn't arrive until just past the hour mark when Ji-Sung Park jinked inside of Joleon Lescott and screwed a shot inches past the post. A few minutes later, Gibson stung Howard's palms with a fierce drive from distance as the Blues were put on the back foot again.
Much had been made during the week of the appointment of Mike Riley, not least by Moyes who hinted at the official's rumoured affection for Manchester United, but the controversy had looked like a storm in a teacup for the first 67 minutes of the match. That all changed when a mix-up on the Everton right left Jagielka badly exposed against Welbeck and when the midfielder turned across the defender and looked to nip the ball around the advancing Howard, Jagielka caught his calf with his thigh. In the blink of an eye it had "penalty" written all over it but Riley wasn't sure and turned down the vociferous appeals for a spot kick by the United players.
In the cold light of television replays, it appears as though they had a case ? so too might Pienaar have done after 37 minutes when Rafael shoved him off the ball in the area with his arm ? but what probably won't be talked about much in the aftermath by those sympathetic to the Red Devils' cause is the incident in extra time that canceled out that penalty controversy: having turned Vidic and left him for dead, Cahill was harshly pulled up for a foul he didn't commit and denied a clear run on goal.
Having introduced Patrice Evra at left back and Paul Scholes in midfield, United looked a little more assured in possession but weren't really more threatening in the closing stages. Nevertheless, Welbeck had the best chance to win it in normal time when he came inside again and fired narrowly over from 18 yards.
Extra time had looked inevitable for long periods but was nonetheless not welcomed by either side. Everton had shown precious little speed of thought or movement up to that point and that only got worse as they visibly tired in the additional half hour. Pienaar, who had hitherto been their best player going forward and who had been perhaps unlucky not to earn that penalty in the first half, looked especially dead on his feet.
Nevertheless, they should be credited for putting in far more effort than their opponents to win the game in extra time and avoid penalties. Not that that automatically translated into chances; Cahill had the only effort for either side in the first 15 minutes, a left-footed shot from the angle that Foster saved with his foot. In the second 15 minutes, James Vaughan, on as a substitute for Fellaini, had the best chance to win it when he was picked out by Baines' cut-back but his scuffed effort raked across goal and wide of goal.
The young striker, playing his first game of the year after recovering from another serious knee injury, also had one last test for Foster with a minute left on the clock when he charged down his attempted clearance but luckily for the 'keeper the ball cannoned out to the right of his area and behind for a corner.
And so to penalties where the script was surely written for the plucky underdogs to be forced to exit stage right as United continued their march to an unprecedented quintuple. Indeed, it was hard to pick five penalty takers from Everton's ranks who you'd have thought could do the job. After Neville had lost the coin toss, Cahill, arguably one of the more automatic choices, stepped up to take the first kick and, opting for power over placement, blasted his shot well over the bar. Big advantage United.
Dimitar Berbatov, Ferguson's practically ineffective third sub sauntered forward and, after a nonchalant check in his run to try and fake Howard out, the Bulgarian stroked a weak effort down the centre and the 'keeper saved with his legs.
Cue Baines, Everton's resident dead-ball specialist in Arteta's absence: One short run-up and bang, in off the underside of the bar. Someone had finally put the ball into the back of the net.
Next up, Rio Ferdinand. Howard would later admit to having done two days of pre-match preparation studying the United players' penalty technique and it paid rich dividends against the England defender. The 'keeper guessed correctly, dived full-length to his right and pushed the ball away to send the Evertonians down the other end into rapture.
Their tails up, Everton held their nerve as first Neville then Vaughan converted text-book penalties while Vidic and Anderson kept United's hopes alive with successful strikes of their own.
That left the stage for Jagielka, the man who saw the decisive penalty against Fiorentina in the Uefa Cup last season saved to send the Blues out. For any Blues who, like me, questioned the wisdom of a central defender taking a the fifth penalty in a shoot-out, their scepticism would be proved to be misplaced as Jags buried his shot into the right-hand corner of the net before wheeling away in delight. Half the team mobbed him, the other piled onto Howard in celebration of the two heroes of the hour. Then, the pulse-racing tones of Z-Cars ring out of the Wembley PA and it's party time in the blue end of the ground.
The FA Cup is all about results. Yes, this was a shocker of a match, the few finer details of which will be quickly forgotten. Yes, the Blues did benefit greatly from Ferguson leveling the playing field with a more inexperienced line-up, but Everton are through to the Final for the first time in almost a decade and a half. They they will meet a Chelsea side whom they have yet to beat this Century but, once again, it will be all about what happens on the day in a game where one team has to emerge victorious by one means or another.
The Blues will unquestionably have to play better than they did today if they are to lift the famous old trophy for the sixth time in their history but that's an issue for another day and Moyes will be well aware of the fact that his team must perform better against Guus Hiddink's men.
For now, though, there is time to bask in the glory of having seen off a second member of the Sky Four on the way to Wembley before the Blues meet the Pensioners at Stamford Bridge in their next Premier League game.
Player Ratings: Howard 7; Hibbert 6, Baines 6, Jagielka 8, Lescott 7, Neville 6, Osman 6, Pienaar 7, Cahill 7, Fellaini 6, Saha 6; Rodwell 7, Vaughan 7
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1 Posted 20/04/2009 at 05:07:22
2 Posted 20/04/2009 at 05:10:48
...And you never will understand you ignorant stupid biased Manc git! IYKYH and IMWT!
3 Posted 20/04/2009 at 05:35:12
"For Everton’s final penalty, up steps Leon Osman". They then gave Leon’s history for about 30 seconds before, with just about every viewer bemused, admitting... "Oh, it’s Jagielka".
It’s not like it was an important moment or anything!
On the Everton support, yes they were magnificent but the best thing about it to me was that it wasn’t the team that lifted them - it was the other way around. All of a sudden the crowd just became deafening, I felt the hairs on my neck stand up, and within a minute we were on the attack with Cahill’s first effort.
The game was going nowhere and it was about 40,000 blues who showed the world how it’s done. They should all be very proud.
4 Posted 20/04/2009 at 06:22:23
But the tackle that has REALLY turned our season, was made by my man of the match. This tackle was made 6 or 7 days ago on Old Mother Riley, COME ON DOWN M.o.t.M DAVID MOYES.
One of the worst kept supposed secrets and unadmitted truth is that the Sky 4 get better treatment and that Riley, a Manc. is upthere with the best when it comes to towing the party line.
Moyes ’ tackle ’ and the public nature of it, made sure the game didn’t get away from us, for want of a better phrase... ’ It kept them honest ’
Compared to the other fat southern twat on Sultana, Joe Dolan ( who da fuck he?? ) Macari was fairness personified. The fact that he didn’t ’ get it ’ is not about bias its about stupidity.
5 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:16:57
6 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:30:03
Old Mother Riley, who in 2001-04 had awarded 7 pens to United in 7 matches and therefore needed Moyes?s reminder to play fair, still had a shocking game blowing up every 20 seconds for the merest hint of contact.
But all of that was irrelevant, it was a proud day to be a blue and for all Phil Neville?s limitations as a footballer you have to admire his bottle to step up and take that penalty. What a guy! James Vaughan, I never thought he had a cool head. Jagielka banishing his Uefa Cup penalty demon. Baines's pen was awesome (is he half-German or what?).
So United put out a weak team, but it was still studded with superstars and ultimately they paid the price for taking on a real team with a collection of individuals.
Well done Moyes, perhaps the few Toffees left that still doubt you will finally get off your back. Please don?t leave us now when the glamour clubs come with their cheque-book, your work here has only just begun.
7 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:50:33
Do I sound like someone who is pleased? YES!
8 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:30:43
9 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:48:51
10 Posted 20/04/2009 at 09:46:43
If I’m right, Chelsea are on track to qualify for the Champions League; by reaching the FA Cup final we have qualified for the Europa League.
I may be wrong.
11 Posted 20/04/2009 at 10:29:58
This clearly states that losing finalists in domestic cup competitions will still qualify if the winners are in the Champions League.
Ade - where’s your evidence that this is wrong?
12 Posted 20/04/2009 at 10:44:42
I would quibble over a couple of ratings ? in particular I thought Baines was again excellent, can?t for the life of me work out how you?d only give him a six, for me he was probably our best player. Defensively Utd got no change at all, he scored a penalty, and he made any number of excellent runs up the left all game ? his combination with Peanut looked by far our most likely creative threat most of the game. Ok, his final ball wasn?t always perfect but threading anything past both Vidic and Ferdinand is very, very tough.
I?d probably swap the ratings for Cahill and Fellaini as well, I thought Fellaini put himself about very well against world class defense and used the ball well overall. I thought Cahill broke up the attacks fairly well but needed to do more with the ball against a very mediocre Utd midfield.
13 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:17:18
14 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:19:21
I know it sounds like carping and I should be happy but the truth is inescapable, I?m not. When I saw their team selection I thought this is a lose/lose situation. If we get beat we can?t beat their second team and if we win it?s a hollow victory. Does anyone feel the same?
15 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:24:00
It does say entitled on UEFAs website - thats not the same as must
16 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:35:18
Although if we finish 7th and win the cup we are still in the play off.
7th and lose the cup we are in the stage before the play offs.
17 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:42:52
We can only beat them team he puts in front of us
History books show we won the Semi
They had only 2 real big big names missing, as did we.
He should have rested his £60 million of penalty missing talent also
All I know is we are in a cup final..end of
18 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:47:04
19 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:58:47
We still have a tiny squad by comparison and Utd had a great bench with Berbatov, Scholes and Evra to come on... why Scholes did not take a pen I dont know... but there you go!!
What the hell is the difference between us using Vaughan and Rodwell, who are both unseasoned kids, and them using there?s? It's bullshit and if Utd had won, we would have been slated and they would have been praised to the heavens.
DM probably prepared for Ronaldo, Rooney and Co to be playing and maybe would have been unprepared for Utd?s boy wonders... Never underestimate any player in a Utd shirt because all of that side that Fergie put out would get into many other top class teams.
We did great again and I think we have a better chance against Chelski because Terry and Alex are no Vidic and Ferdinand... :0)
20 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:57:00
Oh and of course the pitch was wrong! Our players weren?t playing on the same surface as the red scum, were we, Sir Alex has to find a scapegoat for his bad team selection! Anyway if they were given a penalty they probably would have missed it!
On another issue, l saw Kanu impede the goalkeeper on Saturday while Portsmouth scored, just as he did against Howard when that giraffe scored against us... maybe refs should keep an eye on him and leave Fellaini alone! COYB!!
21 Posted 20/04/2009 at 12:19:19
22 Posted 20/04/2009 at 13:01:04
23 Posted 20/04/2009 at 13:43:07
Da Da Daa Dera Da Da Da, Da Da Daa Dera Da Daa, Da Da Daa Dera Da Da Da, Da Da Daa Derada Da Daa - DAAAAA DERAAAA, Da Da Daa Dera Da Da Da, Da Da Daa Dera Da Daa, Da Da Daa Dera Da Da Da, Da Da Daa Derada Da Daa. I’m ever so happY !!!! Da Da Daa Dera Da Da Da, Da Da Daa Dera Da Daa, Da Da Daa Dera Da Da Da, Da Da Daa Derada Da Da -DAAAAA DERAAAA :)
24 Posted 20/04/2009 at 14:23:03
Now we have the experience of a game at Wembley under our belt. I’m looking forward with confidence to the final.
25 Posted 20/04/2009 at 14:18:03
Da Da Daa.
26 Posted 20/04/2009 at 14:45:45
?The losing finalist for the domestic cup competition will still be entitled to be entered for the UEFA Europa League should the domestic cup winners qualify for the UEFA Champions League?.
Which bit of the above, taken from UEFA?s own website. don?t you understand?
Stop worrying about 7th place and wake up to the fact that there are only two ways in which we will not be in the final qualifying round of the Europa League:-
a) Chelsea don?t qualify for the Champions League
b) We do qualify for the same competition
The second is now unlikely but the first is surely just about impossible and will be if they beat us on Wednesday.
27 Posted 20/04/2009 at 15:05:23
28 Posted 20/04/2009 at 11:03:08
29 Posted 20/04/2009 at 15:37:07
Also why has nobody actually pointed out that we are now in Europe? Hmmmm? Because we aren't.
Chelsea can't mathematically not finish lower than 6th now so, based on what you say, we have qualified, yet not a peep from the press about it or our own club. I look forward to your apology when you realise I am correct.
30 Posted 20/04/2009 at 16:49:05
Wembley = 105m x 69m = 7245 sq metres
GP = 102.4m x 71.3m = 7303 sq metres
The vast stadium at Wembley makes it look bigger.
31 Posted 20/04/2009 at 17:17:40
32 Posted 20/04/2009 at 17:38:43
He won a fair number of headers as well, though, and was a generally calm influence in the middle. I thought that for the time he was on he did well. Just my impressions... these aren’t the definitive ratings of our players :)
33 Posted 20/04/2009 at 19:11:29
In the latter stages Cahill was increasingly drawn out wide in support of Pienaar who was flagging, limiting his effectiveness. Osman looked drained in the second half. Moyes seemed reluctant to bring on fresh legs which surprised me. The game then took on biblical proportions as the best wine was served last. Cue the penalty takers. Cahill may have missed but he’s not a natural penalty taker, however, he showed great courage to take on the first pen under the circumstances. Baines shouldered the responsibility and how well he responded. Neville held his nerve and hit a textbook shot. Young Vaughan was audacious beyond belief. Finally, Jagielka exorcised the demons and the rest is history, the fans duly rewarded for their outstanding support throughout the game. Truly wonderful occasion. I think I’ll go off and replay those penalties another 50 times.
34 Posted 20/04/2009 at 19:14:53
35 Posted 20/04/2009 at 18:35:21
It’s funny really because a/ i was in my class at school with a guy called Rodwell and second I come from a little area of Southport called Birkdale which is where Rodders comes from.
Having seen him when brought on for the first couple of times i.e. europe games I was a little bit sceptical. But, as the games rolled on I saw a player far more advanced in his head that his years belied.
This guy is hellish comfortable on the ball. He has that atribute that we see only every so often in which players seem to have an age when in possesion. This is the hallmark of a great footballer, and I think young Rodwell will be the one who will get the Englan job when Ferdinand is gone.
As an aside, I notice that the meeja are not talking much about the Cahill incident when our Timmy skinned him alive only to have a clear run on goal.
Whatever was said before the game,
Moyes our fergied Fergusson. Well done Davey and welcome to the cynicism of top flight football.
It’s a case of the apprentice defeating the master. BRING ON GUSS!!!
36 Posted 20/04/2009 at 19:40:09
And yes, the UEFA website does use the world "entitled" - just wondering how you would define this in such a way as to mean that the FA Cup finalists wouldn’t then end up in the Europa League (subject to Chelsea finishing Top 4, as above)?
Are you envisaging a situation where we are "entitled", but we decline to enter??
37 Posted 20/04/2009 at 19:46:36
One more point. Did anyone hear Talksport early this morning? Every time the match was mentioned on the news, they reffered to Manchester Utd as Manchester UtDs RESERVES!!!. What was that all about if it wasn?t disrespectful to Everton FC.
Bunch of twats I?d say. Get this, obviously I hate the BBC but oi Talkshite you guys are next on the list.
God do the Meeja hate us now we?ve pissed all over their cup final party, and they?ll have to work overtime to find out all the facts and history of Everton the lazy shower of shites.
Oi everyone, do you think I hate the meeja or what, and am I justified?
38 Posted 20/04/2009 at 19:56:28
At no time have I stated that we have definitely qualified for Europe. You are correct in pointing out that we haven?t made it yet.
However, I stand by my previous post that the only way that we will fail to qualify for Europe is if Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League and we fall to 8th in the Premier League.
To challenge your ?evidence?, the Telegraph article is from 7 months ago and merely expresses Uefa?s ideas about revamping the competition. I was amused that M. Gaillard seems to think that 7th in the League is more of a ?winner? than runners-up in the Cup.
Obviously, I think the Mail is simply wrong but I would take Uefa?s own website over the Daily Mail any day of the week. The ?many other sites? are probably just repeating the Mail?s mistake.
The only point that I wanted to make when I responded to your original post is that runners-up in the FA Cup will get the Europa League place if the winners are in the Champions League. I stand by that but I?m struggling to find a way to win this argument (and perhaps get my apology!) if you think Uefa?s website is wrong.
39 Posted 20/04/2009 at 20:22:27
40 Posted 20/04/2009 at 20:39:38
BTW how about this for bad luck: my sons communion is at 3pm on the May 30th ? I have discussed it with my wife and it seems I am going to church (do they allow radios in churches?)
41 Posted 20/04/2009 at 20:24:15
Now they have never been known to be wrong have they...........
42 Posted 20/04/2009 at 21:18:17
43 Posted 20/04/2009 at 21:36:01
Can anyone suggest anything?
44 Posted 21/04/2009 at 03:16:50
My wife is currently pregnant and due with our 5th son in 10 days. My 3rd oldest’s First Communion is May 2. We asked the priest as my wife would like to be present what can we do, and he’s going to have our son receive Communion at the first Mass my wife is available - and he’s totally fine with it.
Dream up some reason why you can’t be there. After all, your wife can’t hit term in a month, so use your imagination. Hold no guilt - God won’t mind and it might be the kid’s greatest story at your funeral. Convince the priest, schedule in the First Communion the next week at regular Mass times with him and your golden.
:) GL Tony.
45 Posted 21/04/2009 at 07:37:47
"The tournament is supposed to be for winners, not runners up"
So what about the so called Champions League????????
46 Posted 21/04/2009 at 10:52:28
Who cares what team Taggart put out? They lost; We won. That's all that I care about.
To every Blue that was at Wembley, I think we should all be filled with pride at what happened on Sunday. We as fans are second to none and this was proven to anyone who saw the game. We have all heard the FA tell us about the acoustics at Wembley and we tested them to the limit.
Thank you all for makingSunday one of the best days of my life!
Now bring on Chelski.
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!!!!!!!!
47 Posted 21/04/2009 at 13:20:53
Does any Blue give a toss that...
- Old red nose played his reserves (yes they would have been heavy favourites with Van der Sar, Ladyboy and Fat Little Nob Head in the side)
- It was a piss poor game and the neutral armchair brigade were bored to tears
- Jags foul on Danny Welbeck was a clear pen and quite poss a straight red
- Are we in Europe? Aren't we? If we fuck it up now we dont deserve to be there. We?re in Europe, stop worrying.
- Fergie blaming the pitch. Both teams tend to play on the same surface during a football match.
PS 40,000 Blues, you were all awesome 12th and 13th man.
48 Posted 21/04/2009 at 17:44:22
49 Posted 21/04/2009 at 20:46:47
50 Posted 23/04/2009 at 14:43:46
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