COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Goodison rocked as the Blues of Everton finally lay to rest the hoodoo that had been Chelsea in the Moyes years. Draws — a few — but wins seemed beyond us until tonight and didn’t all those assembled relish the night's work. It was one of those nights under the lights that will live with those there who shared the experience, foreboding for thirty three minutes and then the Goodison rock’n’roll party that saw the boys home.
In those first thirty three minutes Chelsea played like league leaders and champions elect, passing and moving and dragging us all over the place with a certain arrogance that suggested that it might be a long and painful night. Their pressure that saw Lampard shooting wide after a cute dummy by Anelka then Drogba head over the bar from a Malouda cross and a shot from the fullback go wide it was becoming most concerning for the fans as a goal looked likely and so it materialised. Instead of clever build up the keeper launched one and Drogba’s head on seemed to bypass three Everton defenders and Malouda just seemed to brush Neville aside and finish with aplomb drilling the ball expertly across Howard and home on just 17mins.
After the goal Chelsea still dominated, their fans sang uncomplimentary songs and all looked bright for them. The Blues were plugging away but without much conviction or goalmouth threat though Bilyaletdinov who was looking like a player with no confidence put a good run in down the left and his cross found Baines but his shot lacked conviction and Cech picked up. 32mins in and we gain a corner on the right, Donovan trotted over and in that 33rd min put in a cross that beat the first man and Saha who in a flash lost Terry, who had been booed, but only half-heartedly and headed home raising the roof as he ran for the corner and I wondered if he was going to copy the Cahill routine, he didn’t but his celebration was infectious. They say ‘goals change games’ and this one certainly did. Almost immediately Cahill slid one back to the edge to set up Osman but his shot was wide.
Chelsea were stung and tried to up it, Drogba pulled a cross back from the bye-line but Anelka shot wide when well placed and then the crowd crowed as Lampard put a dubious free-kick well over. The Blues though were now a different proposition and before the break could and should have added two more and both fell to Saha. First Donovan set him up with a cross that he let get away from him a little and Cech saved at point blank range then Donovan again raiding from the right was felled by Carvalho, the ref said penalty, up stepped Saha to put in a weak effort that the keeper duly saved. He had smashed his last pen right down the middle, if only he had done the same again......
H/T and we all wondered would we rue that penalty miss.
The second half started and the manager’s pep talk was working wonders as the Blues tore into Chelsea. Bilyaletdinov put in a dangerous cross that Cech had to tip over for a corner. Then Saha who was giving Terry a torrid time turned brilliantly but shot wide under pressure. Drogba who was mostly in the pocket of Heitinga by now showed his frustration by having a shot from some 30 odd yards that was wild to say the least and the crowd let him know what they thought of it. Bilyaletdinov showed some neat footwork in the box, twisting and turning he got a shot off that was blocked and then the excellent Donovan put in a cross that was just that touch to high for Cahill to reach.
We were more than a match for the league leaders now and on the 75min mark Distin took a pass and hit a long ball toward Saha that Terry failed to cut out. Saha chested down turned and hit a shot of such power that although close to the keeper the sheer pace of it had it passed the keepers right hand and in the net in the blink of an eye. The noise and celebration was worth the admission money as Goodison rocked, you just had to be there to bathe in it.
Chelsea were rocked and tried to retaliate but the Blues were not for giving the lead away although we did live dangerously in the last 10mins of regulation time when Drogba hit the bar from a Lampard corner and in another melee Howard did well to parry away a Lampard daisy-cutter for a corner. The ref Mr Wiley somehow found five minutes of added time, is this the regulation amount for sky four teams who are losing on 90 minutes? As apart from subs there had been little or no hold ups. I thought we played that out quite well in keeping the ball in corners well and generally running the clock down. The manager did his best by subbing Saha for Senderos in the last of the five mins. The crowd informed the visiting fans that they were not singing anymore.
The final whistle and the ground erupted, some players with arms aloft but none celebrated more than Neville who charged toward the Park End and then almost did a lap of honour such was the satisfaction he took from that one. On leaving the ground the snatches of conversation were euphoric, arms entwined, high fives and a general feeling of ‘we stuffed em’ The Arsenal result was well received too!
Overall I thought it was a great response after Saturday’s horror show and against a Chelsea side able to put out its top squad the win was sweet considering our loss of the influential Fellaini and Pienaar.
Arteta got more playing time until replaced by Rodwell which he obviously needs as he was absolutely shattered on 70mins and Bilyaletdinov needs more acclimatisation before he can justify his fee but tonight there was the odd flash that he just might come good. Donovan was excellent and his release in March will leave a big hole to be filled. Man of the match will go to Saha and why not, goals win games but Cahill, Heitinga and Distin all shone and to see Arteta and Osman give the Chelsea midfield as good as they got was encouraging. A good team performance of some grit, guile and togetherness plus some joined up stuff along with hoofball when required gave all assembled an exciting night out. I said in my derby report I expected a reaction after that bloodletting and hell I got one. It has taken us 23 games to beat them in the Moyes era and I am overjoyed to say ‘I was there’
A rest at the weekend then Tuesday its Europa league time. More of the same lads. See you there.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 11/02/2010 at 06:56:39
2 Posted 11/02/2010 at 09:05:13
3 Posted 11/02/2010 at 09:00:02
I ventured the opinion a few months back that Heitinga might become one of the greats, perhaps in the same league as Ratty. He is a massive asset for us, earning respect game on game, and still improving.
But back down to earth - three points from the month of death. Here’s hoping we’ve only just begun.
ps - quite right Ken. The 5 minutes added were an absolute disgrace, but unfortunately so predictable.
4 Posted 11/02/2010 at 10:34:29
If we to win only one of the games between the RS & Chelsea, I would have preferred the 3 points at Anfield, but an EPL win (finally) against high flying Chelsea is very welcome.
Just on the way back to Brisbane to Perth and this PC in the Qantas Club lounge is now showing the photo of the Everton boys celebrating Saha’s winner (off the BBC Sport website) as the new Qantas screen saver!!
Hopefully a few Blue Boys will also be on the same plane!!
5 Posted 11/02/2010 at 10:56:30
6 Posted 11/02/2010 at 11:07:52
7 Posted 11/02/2010 at 11:09:21
8 Posted 11/02/2010 at 12:00:17
Vaughan will probably go on loan soon so Vic will be on the bench with Yak when Saha plays.
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