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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Sunday 2 March 2008; 4:00pm
Everton 
3-1
 Portsmouth
Yakubu (1', 78'), Cahill (70'),
Half Time: 1-1
Defoe (42')  
Attendance: 33,938
Fixture 28
Referee: Andre Mariner

Match Summary

David Moyes dropped Fernandes from the squad (he may be injured) and was also without Arteta, whose stomach/groin muscle problem continues.  Cahill and Pienaar played, but with the after-effects of that bug going around Finch Farm.

Everton got off to an absolutely brilliant start, a free-kick inside the first 10 seconds being converted for the opening goal in just 50 seconds The Yak's 17th of the season. Yakubu had been fouled on his first touch as Portsmouth gave the ball away from the kick-off. Pienaar floated in the  free-kick up and Yobo challenged to

They had another free-kick even closer to the Pompey area after 5 mins but Carsley ballooned it horribly whigh and wide. At the other end, Johnson totally lost Pienaar out wide on Everton's left and cut in to pull the ball back dangerously but Carsley blocked the ball away.

Some brilliant play between Cahill and Pienaar ended with Cahill over-stretching as a he ran in on what looked like a fantastic chance but he connected poorly.  Neville's follow-up shot was abysmally wide. Pienaar cleverly on a corner from a cunning backheel, but from the following clearance, Carsley's pile-driver was driven into the ground.

More superb build-up play allowed Osman to strike but it also screwed wide of James's goal.  Portsmouth some life down the Everton right as well and should have had a corner, but instead play went up the other end an  Mariner ordered a good old-fashioned drop-ball that Cahill contested manfully.  The ball then came to Cahill but his quick shot was poorly executed. Better marksmanship all round would have seem Everton streets away after half an hour...

Distin was booked for tangling  with Cahill, and from the free-kick, it was Pienaar whose hurried shot was fired well wide again. Pienaar then won a corner, pressurising the much bigger Campbell, but the corner evaded everyone, with no-one hanging wide to collect the poor clearance.

Everton paid the penalty for the shocking profligacy of their hopeless shooting when, out of an unconvincing move, a probing ball from Johnson ended up in net as Defoe came in on Howard and perhaps got the faintest of touches to confuse the flailing Everton keeper.  1-1 totally undeserved, and very worrying!

Everton tried to respond but cohesion was lacking, while Portsmouth's movement looked somewhat better, if sporadic.  A smoother move with Yakubu and Osman saw the little fella fire yet another chance wide. A great advantage squandered by half-time, Everton with everything to do again.  Funny how those very early goals seem to lull the Blues into a false sense of security...

Nervy times in teh second half as a much more confident Portsmouth took the game to Everton. Kanu ran in on Howard with Yobo powerless to stop him but Lescott intervened.  Pompey's corners looked more dangerous too as Everton struggled to clear their lines and move the ball forward with meaningful effect.

Heridesen really gave the Blues a fright, getting past Hibbert and causing havoc in the Everton area as it all got rather worrying.  But Cahill worked things better at the other end and finally won Everton a corner 10 mins into the half. However, after playing some great build-up football on the ground in the first half, Everton were now resorting to high ball s into the Portsmouth area, a strategy that was foolhardy, to put it mildly: Midget Gems against the Pompey Giants.

On a break down the Everton right, Neville did very well to keep up with Distin and put the ball out for a corner.  Everton started to look a little better on the hour mark the normal Substitution Hour for Moyesy... time for Vaughan or Anichebe perhaps?  Lescott did well to earn a corner, delivered in superbly with pace by Pienaar. However, Johnson pushed Lescott in the back to prevent him from heading a ball in the area, but no penalty given (duh!).

Hibbert was the one to be sacrificed in the quest for a goal... but it was another midget in the shape of Andy Johnson who Moyes decided to bring on. Pienaar was booked for a late tackle.  AJ's first task was to run at the Portsmouth area and cross for Pienaar but he lost his footing, giving the Gwladys Street plenty of reason to bray for another ungiven penalty.  AJ won a corner that Osman delivered harmlessly into the hands of David James.

AJ put the ball in the net but Yakubu was just offside when he set up the little fella. The effect oh his introduction, however, had been to totally galvanise the crowd and give the impetus firmly back to Everton. But a quick break by Defoe was not fast enough to catch the Blues napping.

The next move, however, showed Everton at their absolute best, Cahill laundching as great ball down the left to Yakubu who had a tremendous amount of work to do, shielding, holding off a defender, and then playing it back to Pienaar in space.  His cross was nailed in by a superb salmon-like leap from Cahill, who had of course run a mile to get into the perfect position on the near post, away from everyone (except Andy Johnson) to plant a superb header past James that was unstoppable.  Everton back in front!

A bizarre moment saw James out of his area, defending on his own against Osman, whose cross was bound to evade him surely? ... No, it was James with the next salmon impression, leaping to head the cross out for a corner! Distin should really have been booked for shoving AJ off the ball... but no, it would have been his second yellow... and against Johnson? never!

It was AJ again who was behind the move that sealed the game, a fantastic crossfield ball deep to Yakubu that Campbell perhaps should have cleared but The Yak picked up the ball, dodged behind the big defender, and lashed in a fantastic shot that nearly took James's noggin in with it! Everton 3-1 and cruising!!!!  Six goals in the last three games for the very well-fed Yak.

Yobo looked to make it four off a corner near the end

A fantastic result, and a tremendous second-half recovery just as Portsmouth looked to be taking the initiative, with David Moyes making the inspired and crucial substitution that turned the game. 

Michael Kenrick

Match Report

Everton kept up the pressure on their rivals for fourth place with another emphatic victory over a side with European aspirations of their own, this time in the form of big-spending Portsmouth. Two goals by Yakubu and a leaping header by Tim Cahill saw off Harry Redknapp's side and lifted the Blues back into fourth place after Liverpool had again temporarily nudged them down a place on goal difference with their victory at Bolton earlier in the day.

The margin of victory was again impressive but it wasn't until a game-changing substitution by David Moyes midway through the second half that the spark that had fired them to a first-minute lead — and, despite conceding a soft equaliser, led them to dominate the first 45 minutes — was reignited. Andy Johnson's introduction and the switch to 4-4-2 with 24 minutes left helped the Blues break out of a congested midfield and find the space to score two excellent goals in the final quarter of the game.

Yakubu may have made a relatively slow start to his Goodison career — lack of fitness and what some perceived to be laziness had a surprising number of fans proclaiming him to be an expensive flop just weeks after his record-breaking move from Middlesbrough — and angered his manager by returning late from the Africa Cup of Nations but the Nigerian is clearly in the goalscoring groove and loving it.

Within seconds of the kick off, the striker had shrugged Lissana Diarra off the ball and then won a free kick around 25 yards from goal after the midfielder tripped him. Instead of going for goal, though, Steven Pienaar dinked a teasing ball into the box which Yobo got a foot to and the ball sat up perfectly for Yakubu to lunge foward and place a header past David James. 1-0 to Everton with barely a minute on the clock!

The cushion afforded by the early goal allowed an Everton side unchanged from Monday's huge win at Manchester City to set about their game with confidence and for long periods before half time, Pompey just weren't at the races.

Another direct free kick opportunity for Everton arrived five minutes after the goal but Lee Carsley blasted well over. Nevertheless, Everton remained in control for almost the entire first half. A terrific interchange after a quarter of an hour between Pienaar and Cahill ended with a square ball to the latter but his effort on the slide was blocked. When the ball came back to Phil Neville around 18 yards out, though, he side-footed wide in disappointing fashion.

Two more flowing moves created half-chances for Osman but in both cases he sliced his shot wide, Cahill and Carsley both bobbled volleys into the turf and saw their efforts easily saved, and Pienaar hooked well wide as the Blues kept up the pressure without really threatening to extend their lead.

Seven minutes before half time, though, and out of the blue the visitors levelled. Glenn Johnson angled a ball straight into the six yard box where Jermaine Defoe got the deftest of touches to complete the deception of Tim Howard who flapped at air as the ball bounced past him into the goal.

Everton, having been so comfortable before, were suddenly knocked out of their rhythm and didn't really regain their composure until the introduction of Johnson almost half an hour later. In between, Pompey assumed some more self-belief and began moving the ball about more quickly and effectively. Early in the second half, Kanu muscled his way on goal and forced Howard into blocking his shot from the angle at point-blank range. Then, Hermann Hreidarsson caused Tony Hibbert all sorts of trouble but the home defence did enough to foil his attempt to find a white-shirted striker.

While the likes Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott were displaying some uncharacteristic uncertainty in their play and Johnson was perhaps getting too much joy from Pienaar down the Portsmouth right than was comfortable, the visitors still weren't creating any real clear-cut chances. That meant that if Moyes's side could make the breakthrough at the other end once more, the points would surely be theirs.

Unfortunately, though, Everton's forward momentum seemed to stagnate as the game wore on so it was no surprise when Johnson was thrown on for Hibbert and, with his first touch, the Blues no. 8 raced away into space down the flank. He almost found Pienaar with his centre but it ran a little behind the South African who slipped as he tried to collect it.

Four minutes later, though, the Blues reclaimed the lead with a nicely-worked goal. Yakubu received Cahill's long pass and held the ball up superbly before laying it off to Pienaar who picked Cahill out with a pin-point cross and the Australian leaped to power home a header.

Seven minutes after that, Yakubu wrapped up the points with the kind of solo effort that is becoming thrillingly common-place. Johnson flighted a long cross-field ball in the burly Nigerian's direction and when Sol Campbell mystifyingly let it drop over his head without dealing with it, Yakubu turned him inside and smashed a net-burster past James. 3-1, nine minutes left, three points in the bag!

It might even have been four had Joseph Yobo been able to steer his header from a Pienaar corner inside the post instead of a couple of feet wide but no one was complaining. A two-goal victory against a team that has been so impressive away from home this season was a highly satisfying result and it added yet more evidence that Liverpool have no room for error in the fight for fourth place. The Anfield derby at the end of the month has the word "massive" written all over it.

The result means that Everton remain unbeaten in 2008 and are, over the last 8 games, joint top of the form table, level on points with Chelsea who have a superior goal difference by one.

Player Ratings

Howard: The goal he conceded was a soft one and there may be some justification for saying that had he kept his eye on the ball and not watched Defoe, he would probably have saved it. But in a split-second situation when you have to anticipate the direction of the ball should the striker get a telling touch, I suspect it's just one of those things. Dealt with everything else that came his way, which wasn't much to be honest. 7

Hibbert: A perfectly adequate display. Seemed content to let the midfield five and Lescott handle the forays forward and rarely crossed the half way line, it seemed. 7

Lescott: By his standards, not one of his better games but fine nonetheless. 7

Yobo: Solid. 8

Jagielka: Like Lescott, when you've been playing out of your skin for the past few weeks, you're bound to have a couple of slips but none were costly and that's all that matters. 7

Carsley: Earned his corn today with some fine break-up play and crucial tackles in front of the back four. 8

Neville: Again performed competently in midfield and even exhibited one moment of blinding skill that few knew he had in him to atone for a poor shot on goal and some earlier mis-placed passes. 7

Pienaar: Was again relied upon to provide the inspiration in Arteta's absence and didn't disappoint, even if some of his play was a little sloppy at times and he was given a torrid time down the flank by Glenn Johnson. Lovely cross for the Cahill goal and was at the heart of the best moments in the first half, including an indirect assist on the opener. 8

Osman: Seemingly back to something approaching his best after taking some time to settle back in after his injury. 8

Cahill: Another one who is getting back to top form and added a fine headed goal to a good overall performance. 8

Yakubu: Despite suffering from the collective lull in the team's fortunes between the Pompey equaliser and Cahill's goal, he led the line brilliantly once again and notched another two goals in his quest to become the first Everton player to pass the 20-goal mark in a season since Peter Beardsley 15 years ago. 9

Johnson (on for Hibbert): A game changing introduction with 24 minutes to go. Did everything right, from winning corners to picking out the Yak with a lovely ball for the third goal. 8

Anichebe (on for Yakubu): Battled well but didn't really get a sight on goal. 7

Baines (on for Pienaar): Only on for a couple of minutes in stoppage time.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

Everton have been ticking along very nicely in the Premier League since the turn of the year, unbeaten in every game played since the shock of that 4-1 scoreline against Arsenal after deservedly leading at half-time, the team having conceded just one goal in six games.

Monday's victory at the City of Manchester Stadium and the emphatic nature of it, though, appears to have instilled genuine belief, not only among Evertonians but the football world at large, that the Blues have what it takes to claim fourth spot in the second time in three years.

That trip to Eastlands had the air of a real test about it but David Moyes's side came through it with relative ease.  Now, they face another dangerous side with European ambitions in the form of Portsmouth who come to Goodison Park for this Sunday's live Sky Sports showdown.

Earlier this week, Moyes announced that he expected Mikel Arteta, who missed the City game to return to Spain for further treatment on his persistent stomach and groin complaints, to be available and his latest comments suggest that the Spaniard should be able to play some part.

Lee Carsley's one-match ban for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season doesn't kick in until next weekend when the Blues visit Sunderland but a bug that has been spreading around the squad could affect the manager's selection options.  Joseph Yobo is still feeling the lingering effects, Steven Pienaar was forced to depart from the game against City through illness, and the manager has cited "a couple of others" that he hopes will pull through by Sunday afternoon.

match photo
Mikel Arteta: the best little Spaniard we know could return this Sunday

In that event, his chief selection decision would concern Phil Neville who deputised for Arteta at Eastlands and who would likely drop back to right back at the expense of Tony Hibbert.

Pompey, who are one of the best teams in the division away from home, where they are liberated from the confines of their narrow Fratton Park pitch, will provide a stern test for Everton.  They have new signings Jermaine Defoe and Milan Baros available in attack along with John Utaka, but boyhood Blue David Nugent will probably be ruled out with a groin strain.

The referee is Andre Mariner, the official who denied Andy Johnson a penalty against Spurs in January when he was tripped by Tom Huddlestone.  Not much chance of the Blues picking up their first spot kick of the Premier League campaign then...

With the competition fierce at the business end of the table, every game feels like a cup-tie these days so there should be plenty of edge to fans this weekend.  Both sides can score goals although the reverse fixture, a clash of two sides who had recently scored seven in one match, ended goalless so the potential is there for a fairly open game but, with Everton's miserly defence, games are seldom all that open these days!

Victory would keep morale at its stratospheric level and, of course, maintain the pressure on Liverpool who lie three points behind.  They play at Bolton Wanderers a couple of hours earlier and then entertain West Ham in their game in hand on Wednesday.

The other main contenders for 4th place, Aston Villa achieved a very creditable draw after coming so very close to winning at Arsenal while 3rd place Chelsea scored an emphatic 4-0 win at Upton Park.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

Everton go into their 57th match against Portsmouth on Sunday looking to build on the fantastic result at Manchester City last Monday.  This will also be the 29th match at Goodison Park between the sides.

Everton's record against Portsmouth:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

9

6

1

2

10

5

Division One

44

16

8

20

71

89

FA Cup

1

1

0

0

5

0

League Cup

2

0

1

1

3

4

TOTALS:

56

23

10

23

89

98

Our record at home to Portsmouth:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

4

3

0

1

6

2

Division One

22

10

5

7

42

34

FA Cup

1

1

0

0

5

0

League Cup

1

0

0

1

2

3

TOTALS:

28

14

5

9

55

39

The last match against Portsmouth was on 1 December 2007, earlier this season, when the teams ground out a 0-0 draw at Fratton Park.

The last home match against Portsmouth was on 5 May 2007, when Everton virtually clinched their Uefa Cup spot with a 3-0 win courtesy of a Mikel Arteta penalty as well as goals from Joseph Yobo and Gary Naysmith (his last goal for Everton).  In fact, Arteta’s penalty was the last Everton have been awarded in the Premier League.

This will also be the second time that Everton have played Portsmouth in a live televised game.  The first was on 26 September 2004, when Everton won 1-0 at Fratton Park thanks to a Tim Cahill goal.

As was mentioned in the stats for the Manchester City match, the only time we beat Manchester City away from home at the City of Manchester Stadium was back in the 2004-05 season when we qualified for the Uefa Champions League.  Similarly, as we have seen above, the only time we have played Portsmouth in a live televised match was in the same season.  Can history repeat itself? (Apart from Liverpool winning the Champions League of course!)

This will be Everton’s 14th match on 2 March:

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

Premier League

1

1

0

0

2

0

Division One

10

5

2

3

15

10

FA Cup

2

0

0

2

1

4

TOTALS:

13

6

2

5

18

14

The last match on this date was a 2-0 win at Middlesbrough in 1996 with the goals coming from Andy Hinchcliffe and Tony Grant.

Everton have won all four of their previous League games at home on this date.  The only home defeat on this day was in 1935, when Bolton Wanderers were the visitors in an FA Cup Quarter-Final, which saw Everton lose 1-2 with the goal coming from Jackie Coulter.

This will also be the first home game on this day, since a 3-1 victory over Coventry City in 1968.  The goals that day coming from a Joe Royle brace and Alan Ball.

Milestones that can be reached this game:

  • If Everton score at least 1 goal, then the first will be the 200th goal Everton have scored at home in all competitions under David Moyes.  They’ve currently scored 199 goals in 133 matches at a rate of just under 1.5 goals per game.
  • If Everton score at least 4 goals, then the fourth will be the 750th goal Everton have scored in the Premier League.  They have scored 746 so far from 609 Premier League matches at a rate of just over 1.2 per match.
  • If Everton concede at least 1 goal, then the first will be the 6,000th Everton have conceded in 4,258 League matches
  • If Everton concede at least 2 goals, then the second will be the 800th Everton have conceded in the Premier League.  Everton have so far conceded 798 goals in 609 Premier League matches at an average of just over 1.3 per match.
If he scores a hat-trick, then Yakubu will become the seventh Everton player to score at least 3 first class hat-tricks in a single season for the club.  The other six are Bill ‘Dixie’ Dean (who achieved the feat in 5 separate seasons, including the club record of 8 hat-tricks in a single season in 1931-32), Bobby Parker, Bert Freeman, Tommy Lawton, John Willie Parker, and the last player to achieve this feat back in the 1985-86 season, Gary Lineker

Steve Flanagan

* Unfortunately, we cannot control other sites' content policies and therefore cannot guarantee that links to external reports will remain active.

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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Howard
  Hibbert (66' Johnson)
  Jagielka
  Yobo
  Lescott
  Neville {c}
  Carsley
  Pienaar :65' (90' Baines)
  Osman
  Cahill
  Yakubu (82' Anichebe)
  Subs not used
  Wessels
  Vaughan
  Unavailable
  Arteta (injured)
  Kissock (loan)
  Jutkiewicz (loan)
  Vidarsson (loan)
  Spencer (loan)
  Boyle (loan)
  Ruddy (loan)

PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2)
  James
  Hreidarsson
  Johnson
  Campbell (c)
  Distin :32'
  Muntari
  Bouba Diop (77' Utaka)
  Diarra
  Kranjcar
  Kanu
  Defoe
  Subs not used
  Ashdown
  Lauren
  Davis
  Baros

Premier League Scores
Saturday 1 March 2008
Arsenal 1-1 Aston Villa
Birmingham 4-1 Tottenham
Derby 0-0 Sunderland
Fulham 0-3 Man United
Man City 0-0 Wigan
Middlesbro' 0-1 Reading
Newcastle 0-1 Blackburn
West Ham 0-4 Chelsea
Sunday 2 March 2008
Bolton 1-3 Liverpool
Everton 3-1 Portsmouth
Wednesday 5 March 2008
Liverpool 4-0 West Ham

Premier League Table
Pos Team Pts
1 Arsenal 65
2 Man Utd 64
3 Chelsea 58
4 Liverpool 53
5 Everton 53
6 Aston Villa 48
7 Blackburn 45
8 Man City 45
9 Portsmouth 44
10 West Ham 40
11 Tottenham 32
12 Middlesbro 29
13 Newcastle 28
14 Wigan 27
15 Sunderland 27
16 Birmingham 26
17 Bolton 25
18 Reading 25
19 Fulham 19
20 Derby 10
After 5 Mar 2008


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