Everton 3 - 1 Reading
Everton got back to winning ways and rediscovered some attacking flair behind superb displays by Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas, both of whom weighed in with second-half goals, not to mention Seamus Coleman who served up the opener for Marouane Fellaini that set the Blues on their way three minutes before half time.
David Moyes oversaw a victory in the Premier League for the first time in four games as Everton drew within two points of Arsenal in fifth place (who play tomorrow against Tottenham) and kept their hopes of European qualification alive.
The occasions when Evertonians have been able to enjoy their side having a threat down both flanks this season have been few in number but they got a taste of how potent the Blues can be with Mirallas, Pienaar, Coleman and Baines all contributing to a result that could have been much worse for the visitors had the Nikica Jelavic of a year ago been on the field.
The Croatian ran tirelessly for the cause today in a bid to end a drought without a League goal that has now stretched to three months but his chronic lack of confidence was in constant evidence in everything from his first touch and distribution to the timing of his shooting and he spurned two or three great chances to get back on the scoresheet.
Credit must go to Moyes for giving him every opportunity to change his fortunes, though, as he elected to hook the well-below-par Leon Osman in favour of Victor Anichebe with 15 minutes left rather than withdraw Jelavic — though, ironicially, the substitute would actually deny him his best chance of the afternoon when, with the no.7 in space near the penalty spot with no one around him, Anichebe went for glory instead but could only steer his shot from the angle into the defender on the line and the ball was cleared.
While the scoreline could have been worse for Reading based on the final hour of play, the first half an hour saw more of the disjointed, nervy Everton that has been such a frustrating feature of their recent performances. Indeed, it was the relegation-haunted Royals who came within the width of a post of taking the lead after 18 minutes when Adam Le Fondre, the scourge of the Blues in the reverse fixture in November, crashed a shot off the upright following a corner.
The home side just couldn't find any rhythm in the early going and their morale was not helped with the loss of Phil Jagielka who was clattered by a poor Le Fondre challenge in only the third minute and it was determined in the next couple of minutes that he would not be able to continue due to a nasty gash to his ankle. John Heitinga was brought on to replace him.
It wasn't until the 29th minute that a switch appeared to be flipped for Everton and they burst into life in the final third. Fellaini threaded a terrific throughball down the left channel for the overlapping Leighton Baines and while his cut-back found Pienaar in the penalty area, the South African's shot was stopped by the head of the prone Mariappa before it could test Steven Taylor in the Reading goal.
A minute later, Osman floated a beautiful ball over the top that put Jelavic into the clear behind Mariappa but the goalkeeper came out to close down the angle well leaving the Crotian with the option of trying an audacious first-time lob or shooting low. Opting for the latter, his shot was on target but Taylor beat it behind for a corner.
Three minutes after that, Mirallas, who had switched flanks with Pienaar by this point, warmed the 'keeper's palms with a well-struck drive from 20 yards after he'd cut in from the left.
The reward for Everton's transformation came three minutes before half time, though, when Coleman surged his way to the byline and crossed to the edge of the six-yard box where Fellaini rose above two yellow jerseys to direct an excellent header into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0.
And the Belgian almost sneaked a second with an attempted cross from almost the same position as Coleman's delivery that was swerving wickedly under the crossbar before Taylor pushed it over.
The second half began in a similarly even vein to the first and Le Fondre almost crept in to seize on Noel Hunt's flick-on but Jan Mucha, deputising competently enough for Tim Howard in the League for the first time since he joined the Club, did enough to get in the way of the ball and it was cleared after bouncing of his shoulder.
Everton resumed control soon afterwards, though, and lovely footwork by Mirallas in the box as he latched onto Pienaar's flighted ball into the box took him past his marker with one touch but, on the stretch, his shot was blocked by a defender.
That was followed by Jelavic's best chance as Osman scooped the ball deliciously over the defence for the striker but instead of putting his foot through it first time as he did against Tottenham in December, he tried to take it around the 'keeper and Taylor got two gloves on the ball to push it aside. As Jelavic went down rather theatrically under the attentions of Ian Harte, Fellaini tried to side-foot hime from close range but his shot was stopped a yard from the goalline and hacked away by the Reading defence.
The second goal didn't take much longer to arrive, though, and it was all down to Pienaar who powered in from the right flank and towards the area before unloading a belter with his supposedly weaker foot that just flew in. A fine individual goal who put on as impressive a personal display as he has done all season, much of it from the opposite flank to his usual partner, Baines.
Mirallas was enjoying himself just as much on the other side and after jinking past two players and whistling a shot across the face of goal that came within inches of either creeping inside the far post or arriving at the feet of the in-rushing Fellaini, the Belgian wizard made it 3-0 in the 66th minute.
Pienaar split the visitors' defence with a perfectly-timed and weighted throughball that released Mirallas and, after feinting to curl a shot to Taylor's left, he tucked the ball inside his right-hand post instead.
Reading were roused as a result into a belated flurry of activity at the other end, with Mucha making one excellent stop to get a hand to Jobi McAnuff's fierce effort and allowing another to squirm behind from the same player.
The game's intensity would slacken off a little in the final quarter of an hour but while Reading would ruin Mucha's clean sheet in the 84th minute when Anichebe failed to track Harte as he overlapped down the visitors' right and his cross was met with a free header by substitute Hal Robson-Kanu, Everton came close to nothing a fourth at the other end.
First, Mirallas was teed up by Pienaar's clever backheel to the edge of the box but his shot was beaten away by Taylor; then, Anichebe found himself goalside of his marker with room to drive in on goal from the left side of the box and he eschewed the gesturing Jelavic who was in an ocean of space before seeing his goalbound effort stopped on the line.
All in all, while by no means a perfect performance from Everton they still managed to get the job down in the final third without having to rely on the mis-firing Jelavic to grab the goals. Mirallas, Pienaar and Coleman were terrific for most of the afternoon and even the disruptions to the side in defence and in goal failed to have much of an effect overall. Mucha appeared fairly comfortable despite so long out at the top level and though questions might be raised over the positioning of Heitinga and Distin for Reading's goal, the Dutchman looked solid after replacing Jagielka.
There is little question that a repeat of this kind of attacking display next Saturday will see the Blues safely through to Wembley against a Wigan side who
have now conceded seven goals in their last two games conceded four at home to Liverpool today without reply. This win helps keep Moyes's men close enough to the teams above them for the time being with two more home League games to come this month before the trip to Spurs in early April. The season remains very much alive...
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977 Posted 02/03/2013 at 21:51:34
Also Wigan beat reading 3-0 last weekend so have have only conceded four in their last two games
983 Posted 02/03/2013 at 21:57:56
I hate to admit it but the Shite's result at Wigan could be a good thing for us: with games running out in the Prem, they might have an eye on their usual end-of-season fight to stay in the Premier League rather than pursue the FA Cup.
Mirallas & Pienaar both had good games... jelly looks as if he's only a couple of games away from getting back to form. Overall, a good shift by the boys .
The only downer of course is the injury to Jags. Let's hope his injury isn't that serious as first thought. He's a strong lad and hates missing games. Could this be the turning point in our season? Watch this space...
985 Posted 02/03/2013 at 22:21:06
989 Posted 02/03/2013 at 22:39:22
996 Posted 02/03/2013 at 23:05:02
006 Posted 02/03/2013 at 23:32:09
I suppose whilst the majority of Evertonians are satisfied with BillCo. we can't expect any change, but how long do we let things go on as they are? 5, 10 20 years? The longer it goes on the less chance I and many others of my age group will have to see a team that can present a meaningful challenge on the top places. In fact there is greater potential for relegation in the long run.
It's now become the mantra that our best players can't be blamed for leaving to go elsewhere and that the club have to sell to keep going, that might be the reality of the situation, however, like most things in life it doesn't have to be inevitable.
If David Moyes does leave the club in the summer, I hope he doesn't have a confidentiality clause and tells us the fans a little of what goes on behind the scenes at Goodison, if not then,I bet when his autobiography is written it will prove to be a real eye-opener.
022 Posted 03/03/2013 at 00:31:45
The best part of the match for me was when Reading had to put 3 players on Coleman. That shows what a nuisance he was. 2 goals came down the right side which is a real positive.
I would be tempted to drop Jelavic for Wigan and play Big Vic. He looks far more comfortable with the cavalry of Mirallas, Pienaar and Fellaini.
Another plus, did you all see the bad morale at Wigan today?
024 Posted 03/03/2013 at 00:42:57
If it was an attempted cross then it was utter shite. However, since he looked up before hitting it and hit it with the outside of his foot rather than the inside (which would have been more natural if he was attempting to play it for the support players who were 15 yards behind him) I, for one, believe it was an attempt to score direct.
From what was shown on Football First, we certainly looked very good at times going forward and the ability to attack on both flanks was a huge benefit, but we also let them have far too many decent opportunities for my liking.
Good result overall and something to build on going into the remainder of the season.
025 Posted 03/03/2013 at 00:48:07
Peculiar thing, Jela's non-scoring. He moves the same as a year ago, but doesn't finish. Not talking about the "sitters" he's missed. Just the run of play misses.
Has a predator's confidence gone missing so openly? The "goals, goals, and more goals" fellow who showed up and proved it fact, can't hit the frame?
C'mon Jela. We know you can. When did you start wondering if you could? Quit trying so hard. Let the game come to you.
026 Posted 03/03/2013 at 00:51:24
028 Posted 03/03/2013 at 00:56:37
Fair does for defending Pienaar, but did you really then have to go on to having a go at Fellaini?
Your crusade is starting to get ridiculous now.
033 Posted 03/03/2013 at 01:24:05
041 Posted 03/03/2013 at 02:01:52
044 Posted 03/03/2013 at 03:20:20
051 Posted 03/03/2013 at 04:50:31
072 Posted 03/03/2013 at 09:20:35
083 Posted 03/03/2013 at 09:38:01
Aided by the impressive Mirallas, as James says, Pienaar ran the show, coming infield to dictate the play and up the tempo of our attacks.
Maybe teams have worked out how to snuff out the Baines Pienaar combo so it was good to see a relationship forging with Coleman and give the opposition something to think about.
Fellaini, apart from the goal had an ok game but like Baines is a top player and it's important that if those two have off games we have others who can step up and take the game by the horns, which Pienaar certainly did yesterday.
090 Posted 03/03/2013 at 10:30:07
092 Posted 03/03/2013 at 10:30:28
097 Posted 03/03/2013 at 10:42:36
099 Posted 03/03/2013 at 10:44:09
127 Posted 03/03/2013 at 12:07:34
He has waited 2 full seasons to get a PL game and did not let us down yesterday. His kicks were always aimed at and hit Fellaini, not just wallopped down the pitch, his distribution was good and he focuses on the ball at corner kicks. He made one tremendous reflex save that could have fired up a Reading comeback.
Howard will be back in as soon as he is fit however Mucha plays, though, that's the Moyes way, although he has cost us 10 plus points so far this season. Good keepers should give you a 10 point advantage!
It might come back to bite my bum, but I for one won't worry if Howard is out for a while.
Well done Jan Mucha I say!
129 Posted 03/03/2013 at 12:27:12
204 Posted 03/03/2013 at 16:54:37
Not really anything worth posting but the stuff above about why can Arsenal sell and not us? Was this serious? Arsenal are in London, generate masses of income, have a new stadium, are in the CL every year and they are sitting on mountains of cash with up to £150M available for players. They have also had no serious discontent from their fans so any change is not being the result of fan pressure. Everton are none of those things. That is why they could sell at any time and we will never sell.
I'm going to say now that fan pressure against management is probably the most destructive and poisonous thing that can happen at any club and I'd like to see one case of it actually having achieved anything. It is fucking Chelsea up big time as it destroyed Blackburn and did absolutely nothing at United where the club has succeeded massively despite a large well organised protest campaign. At Liverpool? They are broke now as a result of their protests and was it really fan protest that caused any change or just the banks calling in loans? They were also protesting to get King Kenny in.
That's why fans don't run football clubs.
209 Posted 03/03/2013 at 17:12:38
Patrick #006. Moyes will never "spill the beans" as he has too much class for such gutter gossip. Not everyone is a wannabe celeb. There is more to life than being (in)famous for 15 minutes.
252 Posted 03/03/2013 at 19:29:08
269 Posted 03/03/2013 at 20:43:59
We saw it with Sky Sports on 'TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY', their bias is clear to see.
270 Posted 03/03/2013 at 20:50:50
273 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:00:59
Why can't people see sometimes what's before their eyes. If Pienaar plays badly we don't win, if he plays like we did against Reading we usually do. The same people who were bemonaing his absence in the semi last year (remind me what the best player of the last 20 years did in that game again?) were ripping into him this season for a couple of bad games. Despite having what so many are calling a bad season he is still top of our assists chart. Some people on here say Moyes doesn't learn but perhaps people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. How many games do we have to lose badly before people relaise that it is Pienaar, Osman and Gibson (and perhaps Mirallas coming into this category now) who make our team tick and not Fellaini? Take them out and you just get the Leeds debacle, or the beginning of last season. Fellaini looks good when these players are playing well like they did agianst Reading. When they're not like against Norwich and United he is relatively powerless to have any influence on the game apart from at set pieces.
275 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:14:42
Feed Jeli on the ground and he will score.
277 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:14:55
I don't know James. How many red cards? How many anonymous performances?
I really don't know what game you're fuckin' watching, tbh!
281 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:21:23
We could easily be out muscled next week.
284 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:43:08
With Miralles on song again and Pienaar starting to crackle they will hopefully get into there stride early on and put igan on the back foot.
Don't want them coming at the Blues too much with our suspect defending these days and Jags missing.
285 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:33:06
You think he is better than Arteta? In what respect? Touch? Vision? Passing? Set Piece ability? Speed? Agility? Guile? Assists? Shooting from distance? Not taking 4 years to find his form? He beats Arteta in strength and aerial prowess (sorry his magical velcro chest also) and that is it. You cannot think he is better than Arteta and at the same time call for an improvement in the football, Fellaini is good at certain things but promoting good football is not one of them. If you honestly think that if you were building an Everton side to play good football that putting Fellaini in over Arteta would make the team play better then I really don't what game you've been watching Colin.
Of course I celebrate his goals , like any Everton players' (can't really remember that many assists of his). I also celebrate what I deem to be of greater skill in some of those goals and that is the wonderful assists. If Pienaar beats 2 men jinks into the box and pulls it back for Fellaini to tap in then who is the star player there? For the MOTD generation whose only currency is goals then Fellaini, for everyone else then its Pienaar. He has very few wondrous goals for Everton, his one against Fulham possible being his best, although he is good with his head in the air. You can't compare any of these goals to Arteta's free kicks, his one against Bolton, Fiorentina, Blackburn away, I enjoy these types of goals, like Pienaar's yesterday. I'm sorry but there's only so much you can enjoy a header from a cross or a tap in. Fellaini's got better at shooting this season but before then his shots from outside the area were non existent which is poor for a 15 mill player.
Are you pretending to forget the red cards or all the times he's gone missing in derbies or are you just pretending they don't exist and judging Fellaini's career from this September rather than the 4 years of dross that came before hand? He's not fit to lace Arteta's boots.
293 Posted 03/03/2013 at 21:53:42
There is a reason why Baines and Pienaar have been so good this season, barring the obvious, they're good players. Fellaini lets good players, play. His control, which you take the piss out of, is second to none in tight areas. He can pass the ball(again, what games are you watching?), he brings others into play and he can defend (despite you pointing out last weeks corner ad nauseum).
He doesn't score free kicks or thirty yard screamers. Do you get more points for them like? How many headers did Arteta score?
As for going missing in derbies. We've been there before. All the players are on a sticky wicket there.
I get it James. You don't like him. Fair enough. He'll be gone soon and we will see what we're missing.
298 Posted 03/03/2013 at 22:24:03
301 Posted 03/03/2013 at 22:25:10
Colin we clearly view the game very differently. Arteta stamped his mark over every facet of the team, dictating the temp of our play, always offering himself for the ball. His performance was often key to us winning. I don't take the piss out of Fellaini's control, his chest control is excellent. Is his first touch as good as Arteta's Pienaar's or Osman's? not in my opinion. It's easy to control a ball and lay it off backwards to the midfield, its far harder to take it on the turn and keep it like the three aforementioned do.
You say Fellaini lets good players play, I say Fellaini looks good when good players play. You could easily say Phil Neville gives good players a platform to play on, where does that logic end? For 15 million, and playing as an attacking player, Fellaini should be one of these good players never mind just someone who allows them to play. As Everton pre Fellaini and whenever he is injured shows us, these players can still play (statistically better) without him in the team. Surely we can't be carrying players who only allow others to play?
People can't continue to blame Moyes for every derby loss. If Fellaini was the best Everton player in 20 years how would he have allowed some of those losses? He has done nothing of note in these games and has continuously ceded possession to average players like Adam, Lucas, and Spearing. Sorry, I'm sure we could argue all day about this, we'll never agree, I just want and expect more for 15 million.
304 Posted 03/03/2013 at 22:45:34
You appear to use stats, without supplying any, to back up your arguments. Fellaini should not be an attacking player. He's doing his best, as a lot of players have found themselves doing under Moyes, out of position.
His control of the ball, imo, is excellent. And i'm not blaming Moyes for every derby loss, i'm just, not soley, blaming Fellaini as you are.
Arteta was a fantastic player for us and I am in no way belittling his talent. Stupid argument to get into really when my main gripe is with you slagging Fellaini while praising Osman.
Im sorry man, I for one, can't easily say Phil Neville gives good players a platform to play on.
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