The teamsheet did not include Jô, on loan from Man City, and ineligible to play under the loan agreement; Saha on in his place. Castillo was given another chance to start, with Cahill rested, following on from the Ecuadorian's excellent performance at Chelsea midweek.
An early corner from Pienaar came to nothing, and the game kind of drifted along without too much real action in the Goodison sunshine. After 22 mins, Fellaini got a free-kick awarded in a great position but the delivery from Baines was poor. Following on from that, City created some dangerous chances after Yobo spooned it, but Howard finally saved it from Robhino.
A fantastic saving tackle by Baines prevented a certain goal as he slid in to whip the ball off Ireland's toe, set through by Robhino. Another warning? Robhino was tormenting Hibbert somewhat down the Everton right. Meanwhile, a great move with Baines down the right fed Fellaini but his ball in to Saha was not strong enough for him to finish it off.
But then Robinho was released first time by Elano after another Yobo error and he scampered past Jagielka, slotting the ball easily beneath Howard. At the other end, Hibbert's crosses were lacking but he finally got a better one in that prompted Saha to fling himself at it but the diving header did not come off.
Into the second half and Fellaini stung Given's hands with a sharp drive, straight at him, unfortunately, before City increased their lead to 2, Ireland scoring after Robinho laid it on a plate for him over the Everton defence
Moyes acted with a triple change: Cahill, Gosling and Vaughan on for Fellaini, Castillo and Saha. And Everton looked 1000% better instantly, Cahill and Vaughan looking lively. But seconds later, Jagielka slipped and he looked to have hurt himself seriously. A stretcher job... and Everton down to 10 men, Moyes having used all his subs.
Some frustration between Onuoha and Neville resulted in bookings for both. More fisticuffs after Cahill and Kompany went at it. A late challenge on Pienaar by Elano got the crowd even more riled and earned the Brazilian a yellow card.
Ireland an Robhinho broke with pace again but failed to score the third goal as Everton struggled to get close to Given's goal at the other end.
Ireland an Robhinho broke with pace again!! And fluffed their lines again! SEVEN minutes of added time... and it was enough for Gosling at least to score in the dying seconds, controlling the ball well and then brilliantly finishing past Given into the top corner, restoring a little of Everton's pride. But lots of Blues had deserted Goodison at that point.
A sad and sorry celebration of the achievements away from home last week: no cleansheet, no home win to challenge Villa for 5th, Jagielka injured... perhaps seriously. You gotta love this game!
It seems strange looking back a couple of summers when Everton's entire transfer window seemed to hinge on the acquisition of Phil Jagielka, a player whose value to David Moyes at the time appeared to lie more in his versatility more than his ability. Here was a utility player who had just been relegated with Sheffield United — and been sent off in the final match of the Blades season to boot — and Moyes was apparently waiting for this £4m signing to be completed before moving on to land bigger fish.
When his first appearances in a Blue shirt in central midfield fell horribly flat, concerns over just how versatile Jagielka actually could be began to mount and though most Evertonians knew that he had yet to be played in his favoured centre-half role, question marks over his acquisition were raised.
Of course, Jags would get his chance in central defence; fast forward to this season and he has not only broken into the England team and won caps in World Cup qualifiers but he is surely the leading candidate for Everton's player of the season.
It's arguable whether anyone in Moyes's current squad deserves to play in the FA Cup Final more than Phil Jagielka, not least because it was he who had the stones, after missing the decisive penalty against Fiorentina a year ago, to step up and bury the Blues' fifth and final spot-kick against Manchester United last weekend and earn the right to return to Wembley to face Chelsea next month. Instead, he will have to watch from the sidelines on 30th May, having been robbed of the chance to play in the Final by a cruel twist of fate, another ruptured ligament to strike the Everton squad in what has been a campaign riddled with such adversity.
It is testament to Jagielka's talent and the manner in which he conducts himself that Blues fans are so devastated by his loss for the season run-in. Not only have his performances this season eclipsed even those of his partner, Joleon Lescott — no mean feat! — but his work ethic, his professionalism and his desire to just get on with the game without any fuss make this especially hard for fans to take. In other words, his success thus far couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke and it's a particularly nasty lapse in karma that he has been ruled out of a showpiece Wembley final by a freak injury.
Such has been the progress under Moyes, though, that win or lose, the 2009 FA Cup Final might not have been the pinnacle of Jagielka's Everton career. With luck, the man who many thought was brought in just ot bolster numbers, will be helping the Blues to glory at home and abroad in the years to the come.
That, of course, will rely on the manager being able to strengthen his small squad further this summer, a fact brought into sharper focus by this defeat to Manchester City, the Blues' first home defeat since early December. Fatigue, injuries and Moyes's need to rotate out some of his most consistent performers all came together to produce a galling first home loss to City since the mid-1990s.
2-0, as the score was when Dan Gosling swept home what proved to be merely a consolation in injury time, would have flattered Mark Hughes's men greatly because Everton were superior in terms of possession but clearly inferior when it came to pace and insiciveness up front. Two quick counter-attacks into acres of the Goodison Park pitch were enough for the visitors to secure the game, though there's no telling how much pressure the Blues may have been able to assert had they not been forced to play the last half an hour with 10 men.
Having sat out the midweek draw at Chelsea — the only game this season he has missed thus far — Jagielka returned to the starting line-up alongside Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott was rested. Lars Jacobsen had hobbled off with an injury in the closing stages at Stamford Bridge so Tony Hibbert was preferred at right back, Jô was ineligible to play against his full-time employers so was replaced by Louis Saha, but Marouane Fellaini was deemed it enough to start which allowed Tim Cahill to take a breather on the bench. Segundo Castillo continued in central midfield alongside Phil Neville.
Everton had plenty of the ball in the early going but, again, there was precious little by way of end product. Saha more or less confirmed that he just isn't suited to the lone striker role unless there is decent enough service from the flanks. With the Frenchman often dropping deep to collect the ball, there was even less to aim at in forward positions so the Blues' forward momentum often stalled.
Saha did have the home side's first effort on goal, though, an ambitious effort from wide on the left that Shay Given caught comfortably, but in the main he was starved of service.
City, who had won just once away from home all season, and that back in August, looked in purposeful mood when they came forward, though, with Elano and Robinho in particularly looking dangerous. The latter had signaled his intentions after quarter of an hour when he cut in past Hibbert but shot tamely at Tim Howard. 10 minutes later, though, he forced the American into serious action. Yobo sliced Wayne Bridge's shot straight to Elano whose shot was brilliantly blocked by the superb Leighton Baines. The rebound fell to the feet of Robinho but his close-range effort was beaten away brilliantly by the 'keeper.
City would go ahead after 35 minutes on the back of a rapier-like strike through the middle of the Everton defence but the warning came six minutes before that when Caiceda knocked the ball back to Robinho and he picked out Stephen Ireland whose surging run had been left completely untracked but Baines was on hand to execute a perfectly-timed sliding tackle in his own box to deny the midfielder.
The opener did come, though, but it wasn't without controversy. A free kick to Everton had come to nothing when Fellaini had been immobilised by the grappling hold of his Belgian compatriot, Vincent Kompany. Referee Alan Wiley was nonplussed by appeals for a penalty and the ball was belted into the Blues' half. Yobo, challenged in the air by Robinho, could only head straight to Elano in the City side of centre circle and he sent it back over the top where the Premier League's most expensive player raced away from Jagielka and slid his shot through Howard's legs.
Everton's response between then and half time was virtually non-existent. Saha had a headed opportunity at the near post off a Hibbert cross that went well wide but, in the main, the Blues were poor in midfield and distressingly weak going forward down the right flank. Leon Osman, who has, despite a few flashes, just been off-key for most of the season, was a particularly weak link — his touch has deserted him and he just wants far too long on the ball meaning he invariably gets robbed of it — but with the exception of Steven Pienaar, there wasn't any real inspiration from anywhere.
Fellaini was tidy enough with the simple pass but not really threatening beyond that and neither Castillo nor Neville are ever going to be midfield playmakers.
Nevertheless, the Ecuadorian did pop up in the box two minutes after half time to glance a header off Pienaar's corner inches wide of the far post and Fellaini had the home fans on their feet three minutes after that when he controlled the South African's square pass on his chest, turned and smashed a volley towards the roof of the net but Given pulled off a stunning, point-blank save to push his effort over the bar.
Six minutes later, though, the Blues were hit by a second sucker punch and City doubled their lead. It again came on the counter from an Everton attack, with Hibbert stranded up-field and Caiceda held things up long enough for Ireland to sprint into the open where he picked up the Ecuador striker's centre and side-footed past the stranded Howard.
Barely two minutes later, Robinho came within a boot of embarrassing the home defence again. This time a clear handball as he surged into the box went unnoticed by the officials but Howard got down low to save his shot.
Everton had at least stepped up their efforts at the other end to try and get back into the game and Jagielka powered a decent chance over with his head when he might have done better, and Evertonians were again baying for justice from Wiley when Kompany again man-handled Fellaini in the box.
It was to be the Belgian Barnet's last involvement in the action, though, as Moyes made an uncharacteristic treble change on the hour mark. Off went Fellaini, Saha and Castillo, on came Vaughan, Gosling and Cahill and Goodison geared up for a "grandstand" last half hour.
Just three minutes later, though, disaster struck. Jagielka stretched out his right leg at waist height to control the ball in midfield but immediately crumpled to the turf clutching his knee and waving his arm in what is now familiar to Everton fans as the gesture synonymous with ruptured ligaments. The defender was duly stretchered off and scans would later all but confirm the worst suspicions — his ACL had gone and he'd miss the Cup Final. Not only that, Moyes had used all three subs at once so his side would have to try and claw back two goals with only 10 men.
Neville dropped back to central defence and Robinho tried to exploit the weakness in the 74th minute when he burst through again and easily evaded him, skipped over Osman's hopeless lunge and tried to slip it past Howard, but the 'keeper extended his foot and saved well.
At the other end, not for the first time Pienaar put Baines in superbly to the byline, his cross was blocked by arm Richard Dunne's arm but, again, there was nothing doing from the referee.
Five minutes later, the former Everton defender cam within a foot of glancing Pienaar's free kick into his own net but it was all becoming increasingly desperate by the Blues. They had resorted to punting it long in the closing stages and remained vulnerable to the counter, Ireland and Robinho almost combining lethally again but, thankfully, the Brazilian screwed his shot inches wide of the post.
When the fourth official signaled seven minutes of injury time, though, a sense of hope rippled through the Goodison crowd and the players responded with a rare moment of incisiveness. Pienaar spotted Gosling's run into the box and the youngster took his square pass in stride before lashing it into the top corner.
There were still three minutes left to go at that point but the Blues just couldn't make another breakthrough despite a late corner.
All in all, a bad day at the office and perhaps a long season slogged through by a small group of players coming home to roost. Having lost Yakubu, Arteta and now Jagielka, Moyes has now had the backbone of his team ripped out and yet they remain in the hunt for a second successive fifth-place finish.
The manager has a week before a tricky trip to Sunderland to work more of his magic on team morale and he will no doubt impress on his players the fact that the end is in sight and that there are just four league games left to go.
He would be well advised to turn back to his youth in midfield, though. Gosling did more in 30 minutes today than Osman has done in his last 300 on the pitch and Castillo showed some of his weaknesses despite a terrific display at Chelsea in midweek and a promising start this afternoon. It's probably time to hand the starting berth in central midfield back to Jack Rodwell when one of Cahill or Fellaini isn't playing.
Up front, it seems as though Jô is better suited than Saha to playing up front on his own while in defence, the manager is down to his last two centre backs and he'll be praying there are no more injuries there before that date at Wembley in six weeks' time. Thank goodness our place in Europe is already guaranteed...
With their place in the FA Cup Final booked and a satisfactory point earned from a difficult trip to Chelsea in midweek, Everton's race for a second-successive fifth-place finish enters the final stretch with a home game against Mark Hughes's expensive but erratic outfit.
Four points behind West Ham going into this weekend's round of fixtures, City still have hopes of qualifying for the Uefa Europa League via seventh place but they've managed just one away win all season and haven't won at Goodison Park so far this century.
With the Blues' return to Wembley still six weeks away, David Moyes is urging his players to keep their focus on the Premier League and he is likely to make changes again to his line-up after resting three members of the team at Stamford Bridge.
One change will be forced upon him: the terms of Jô's loan from City preclude him from playing against his full-time employers and that will mean a return to the starting line-up for Louis Saha.
The Frenchman started in last weekend's semi-final against Manchester United but was withdrawn after an hour and a bit, in part because he was a peripheral figure in a poor game but also because he had not trained fully in the preceding week because of a stomach virus. Without a goal in the League since the end of February, he will no doubt be hungry to return to the goal trail. James Vaughan, unused at Chelsea, will again start on the bench.
In midfield, Marouane Fellaini, who missed the draw at Chelsea, could be forced to sit out again with a knee complaint and, if so, his manager will likely have to decide whether to reward Segundo Castillo for an excellent second-half display in midweek or ask Jack Rodwell to step in alongside Phil Neville.
In defence, Phil Jagielka could return to partner Joleon Lescott at Joseph Yobo's expense but there is a question mark over Lars Jacobsen after he limped off in the closing stages at Chelsea with an apparent knee injury. If he wasn't already going to be, Tony HIbbert will be recalled to resume duties at right back.
City will be missing Craig Bellamy because of a knee injury, as well as Shaun Wright-Phillips and Pablo Zabaleta. Midfield anchor Nigel de Jong could also miss out with a thigh injury.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2008-09 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Jagielka (63' off injured)|
|Castillo (60' Gosling)|
|Fellaini (60' Cahill)|
|Saha (60' Vaughan)|
|Subs not used|
|MAN CITY (4-4-2)|
|Richards (56' Fernandes :83')|
|Elano :72' (87' Evans)|
|Caicedo (83' Petrov)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Saturday 25 April 2009|
|Sunday 26 April 2009|
|Monday 27 April 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 27 April 2009