David Moyes took the exceptional opportunity to rest key senior players for this game, with Everton already having won Uefa Group A after the first three games. A chance then for some marginalized players in the first-team squad who have not been getting regular starts for the Blues to go out and have some fun — Wessels, Hibbert, Jagielka, Valente, Gravesen, McFadden, Johnson, and Anichebe, with a host of reserves rookies on the bench
A great start for the Blues as dreadful defending by AZ in the first minute off a Valente throw-in let AJ in after Pienaar had helped to prevent a defender from clearing the ball and AJ buried it inside teh near post. A great reward for the Blues hordes lucky enough to be in the tiny DSB Stadion. But Pelle, edge of the area, and a low shot past Stefan Wessells leveled things up after 16 minutes. It was a poor goal to conceded really, the ball coming to easily right through the Everton defence. 1 - 1.
McFadden wasted a perfect free-kick opportunity when Pienaar was fouled, the Scott firing harmlessly into the side netting. Just before the break, off an Everton corner, Johnson did well to set up Lescott whose hot was blocked on the line, and Jagielka followed up to make sure.
Johnson so nearly got a second after the break but he could not punish them enough. Pienaar then had an excellent shot as Everton went through a purple patch. But that was followed by more poor defending from Everton Lescott allowing Jaliens to out-muscle him and score with an easy header.
Vaughan and Vidarsson (his senior debut) came on with 20-odd minutes left. Hibbert was booked for a poor tackle (perhaps cumulative)
With 10 mins left, Anichebe clipped in lovely ball over the AZ defence for Vaughan who's fine touch coolly rolled into the net.
And another youngster, 16-year-old Jack Rodwell, was given his debut at the senior level for the last 10 minutes to replace the tiring Thomas Gravesen, making him the youngest ever Everton player in Europe. Wessels was booked for time-wasting.
Augstien had a glorious chance to equalize again but missed it. And Everton wrote their name large into the European football history books with an excellent 100% record in the group stage, and inflicting AZ Alkmaar's first ever home defeat in a European competition. And it extends Everton's tremendous unbeaten run to 13 games (11 wins) in all competitions.
Well done, lads!
To be honest not his most inspiring performance. Flapped a couple of times and didnt look as comfortable as we could have hoped.
Great game from a great defender. Never game the Alkmaar attackers an inch. Many important tackles and blocks. My man-of-the-match.
Still finding his feet and at times looked a little worried by the technique of the Dutch players. Still Jags kept plugging away and was in the right place at the right time for his first Everton goal.
Looks more comfitable when playing alongside the more experience Yobo or Stubbs. Held things together at the back as best he could and his leadership qualities are starting to show.
Had a really good game. Like Hibbert defended well and got forward whenever he could. Looks at home in European games.
Not as influential as he has been lately but still worked hard and attempted to make things happen. Is becoming one of Everton's most important players, a fact backed up when Moyes substituted him so he could rest for Man Utd.
Not as good as he used to be. Maybe he's out of practice but Tommy G looked slow and his passing failed him at times. Has to do better if he wants a permanent Everton transfer.
Getting a bit tired of trying to rate Carsley, he's always consistant, he's always important and he never gives less then 100% So so important.
I'm sure he did a lot of running and hard work but to be honest I forgot he was playing. Not a midfielder and offered very little as an attacking force.
Everton's European talisman. Worked tirelessly but looked a little ragged towards the end. Didn't really get close to scoring but still did enough to suggest he's maturing into a very good player.
Great early goal and a tireless performance full of running. Looked like the old AJ and seems to be over the awful goal draught. How long can Moyes keep him as a supersub?
16-year-old broke records making his Euro debut. Physically he looks ready but it was his failed offside trap that almost cost Everton a goal. Will no doubt mature and learn, is this the future Everton Captain?
The enigma finally makes his Everton debut. Struggled to get into the game but its another step towards Premier League action.
Once again he showed why these persistant injury problems are so annoying. When he's fit and playing he looks as good and as dangerous in front of goal as any striker at Everton.
Was brave to leave the likes of Howard, Neville, Arteta, Cahill and Yakubu behind. Showed his commitment to youth by playing the kids, Everton's youngest ever player (Rooney), goalscorer (Vaughn) and Euro debut (Rodwell) have all come under Moyes. Out thought Dutch master Van Gaal, broke their amazing home record. Winning every game in the group, can we ask for more?
Everton conclude matters in Uefa Cup Group A this evening with a trip to AZ Alkmaar in Holland. Despite being guaranteed first place, the Blues will be looking to extend their 100% record in the group and take their unbeaten run in all competitions to 13 with victory over Luis van Gaal's side.
The task of upholding both proud records will fall to a more experimental side given that some of the key regulars did not travel with the squad. Mikel Arteta, Ayegbeni Yakubu, Joseph Yobo, Tim Howard and Tim Cahill all stayed on Merseyside for a well-earned break, while Phil Neville and Leon Osman also remain behind with fellow walking wounded Alan Stubbs and Leighton Baines.
Meanwhile, a handful of teenagers and fringe players could get the chance to impress. 16 year-old midfielder Jack Rodwell is the youngest of some Reserve regulars who have been included in David Moyes's squad. Icelandic midfielder Bjarni Vidarsson, John Paul Kissock, striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, John Irving and Patrick Boyle are the other players named who have yet to make their senior bow.
The manager's starting line-up is likely to be made up of more familiar names. Andy Johnson should get the nod up front and could be partnered by either Victor Anichebe or James Vaughan if Moyes continues his trend of deploying two strikers in Europe.
Thomas Gravesen is in line to make his first start since returning to the club on loan from Celtic. The Dane has been struggling for fitness since arriving in August and this could be his chance to show that he still has what it takes to command a regular place in midfield, particularly with Osman out until the New Year.
Stefan Wessels, Tony Hibbert, Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and Nuno Valente are the obvious back five, Steven Pienaar, James McFadden and Lee Carsley the likely midfield.
While that is still a strong starting XI, the lack of continuity in terms of personnel will require some readjusting but Moyes will be content that he is not doing Nuremberg a disservice by fielding a team of reserves.
AZ (an abbreviation of Alkmaar Zaanstreek) need to win to ensure that they progress to the last 32 with Everton and either Nuremberg or Zenit St Petersburg depending on the Germans' result against Larissa in Greece.
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|2007-08 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
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|4 the Game||Report|
|AZ ALKMAAR (4-4-2)|
|Pocognoli (81' Agustien)|
|De Zeeuw (65' Jenner)|
|Cziommer (65' El Hamdaoui)|
|Subs not used|
|Gravesen (80' Rodwell)|
|Pienaar (68' Vidarsson)|
|Johnson (68' Vaughan)|
|Subs not used|
|Van der Meyde (injured)|
Uefa Cup Scores
|Thursday 20 December 2007|
Group A Table