COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
The Blues 2-1 up at half time from a game that should have seen us out of sight but for inexplicable hesitancy and conviction in the final third and sheer naivety in the home third as the game concluded.
From the off we played like the home team and took the game to the visitors and after only some 12mins Cahill sent Saha clear only for his shot to rebound from the keeper who then turned it into a double save as he turned away Osman’s follow up.
Then within 5mins Cahill misdirected a header wide from a Baines corner then the visitors showed they had a threat on the counter and it took a good interception from Pienaar to divert an effort wide. Saha claimed a free kick on the edge from a good through ball by Pienaar but at least three officials would have none of it. Sporting who are supposed to be struggling showed confidence on their breaks and a shot went just wide. Then on the 35min mark Sporting were at last cut apart as Neville found Cahill in the box, his incisive back heeled pass picked out Pienaar who despatched with aplomb.
I thought we may go on from there but the visitors responded with two good chances, first when a sporting player cut us apart and fed Pedro Mendes who’s shot had Howard scrambling to save, then after another good counter move a shot cannoned off our post and away to safety. Just a minute before the break Saha got to much on a header from a Baines corner and the ball went over the bar.
H/T and the chat was mostly positive but with the caveat that we should have capitalised more on the chances created.
It didn’t take long into the second period, 4mins to be precise, we were two up. We forced a corner which Baines delivered in regulation fashion, Cahill jumped with the keeper and both missed it and the ball seemed to merely hit Distin but find the net.
We then had good chances to put the tie to bed, first Donovan tried a chip when put through but the keeper was equal to it then from a Donovan free kick Saha once more got to much on his header and the ball flew over the bar. Donovan was fed through for a great chance but his effort lacked direction and was blocked. We really needed a third goal to almost ensure progression and it almost came in the 75th min when the Yak on for the lame Cahill after the hour mark saw his close range shot blocked by the keeper.
Saha almost got the third but again the keeper smothered with the visitors on the back foot. Rodwell then replaced the out of gas Arteta and Bilyaletdinov replaced Saha. Then for some reason we went deeper and deeper as though conceding that two was enough and just seeing the game out was straight forward. Nothing is ever straight forward for the Blues and in the final four mins Rodwell for some reason decided to belt the ball back straight at Distin who seemed caught by surprise and instead of safety first and finding a hoof somehow made a hash of control allowing the Portuguese forward to nick it and head for goal, Distin clumsily brought him down, penalty and red card ensued. Veloso took the pen sending Howard the wrong way and instead of the visitors needing 3 goals in the second leg now just a 1-0 win will do.
The scenario was not lost on the magnificent 28 thousand who made the game and some glum faces were evident on the final whistle.
My M.O.tM over the whole ninety was Osman as to me he seemed to be the only consistent player and the one urging others to be a little more urgent in the pass and move department.
I found it hard to understand why our method of play seemed so slow with so many square and backward passes when a more urgent display as shown against Chelsea may well have swamped the opposition. Surely Chelsea play much the same way in Europe as they do in the prem. so my question is why did we have to alter our game so much just to accommodate a European tie against a team that we had the measure of but on many an occasion let them off the hook with this obsession of going forward only to then go square or backward and allow them to regroup. I believe I could have understood more if we had been away.
I must say I thought large portions of the game were quite boring yet a mate who could not make the game rang to say we looked great on tele and it was an exciting game! Just goes to show how the method of viewing can be so different. The same mate also informed me that Fellaini is out for six months and with Cahill hobbling off clutching his calf plus Arteta well off the pace we seem to be back to square one.
Still the second leg will be fraught but not out of our grasp as long as we stick to what we are good at and not get caught up in this special Euro way of playing. Hit em hard and hit em quick and we will be ok.
Man U Sat and I bet we will play nothing like we played tonight. Another sky 4 scalp would be just great, the bookies don’t think so but you never know. See you there.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 17/02/2010 at 02:06:33
As i sat on my lonesome at the bar i was pretty happy for the majority. It seemed as though we were playing with some confidence, creating easily the better chances and looking fairly comfortable at the back. Despite their current domestic form Sporting are a very decent European team who won their Europa group and have some handy players. Yet after 80 mins 3 or 4 nil would not have been an unfair reflection of what i had seen.
Then one piece of miscontrol by Distin (off an admittedly unecessarily hard hit back pass from Rodders) and then a clumsy tackle in the box, when i thought Liesdson had worsened his angle, and suddenly it all turnarounds.
2-1 felt harsh and makes the affair very tight.
Guessing Senderos will have to step up in the return leg if he’s fit but i think we have enough to get past them. Just hope Moyes doesn’t send out a defensive team as i do think we will have to score in Lisbon to get through.
2 Posted 17/02/2010 at 03:42:59
3 Posted 17/02/2010 at 05:23:17
"Distin had a very difficult pass to deal with which led to him miscontrolling it, and that led to the goal," Moyes continued. "We should have never put ourselves in that position, we should have been looking to play forward and get forward."
For those still thinking he’s the king of negative, have a look at his post match reaction on the site. It’ll be quite refreshing for those left. He said all the right things in my opinion. Shame about conceding, but from what I gather we should still have enough to get past them.
Mat try footy tube, it’s one of the most reliable highlight hubs there is. Europa is dicey though, depending on who aired it.
4 Posted 17/02/2010 at 07:10:28
5 Posted 17/02/2010 at 07:17:23
Still on the positive side Sporting didn’t look any great shakes, neither did Mr Mouthino, so all is not lost though I feel we’ll need an away goal.
6 Posted 17/02/2010 at 08:23:32
The pass was a shocker and the forward was onto Distin before he could get it under control. It was a poor mistake from Rodwell, but he’ll learn from it.
But if there is one positive to take from the game, it means we can’t go there with a negative attitude as one goal will see them through. We need to score and the team line up and formation will have to respect that.
7 Posted 17/02/2010 at 08:50:13
I found most of the match quite dull; we should have played a Premier style — high tempo and get at them; we didn’t...
W went 2-0 up within minutes of the 2nd half which should have been the perfect springboard to go on and score more.. but sadly, no.
Tactics and substitutions again very poor for me — 3 games in 10 days, all totally different; 2 out of 3 seriously poor. I do not know what our "style" or "plan" is.
8 Posted 17/02/2010 at 08:52:54
However, in some ways, I think this is a better scoreline to go into the 2nd leg, because, now all the lads will be on their toes, and also David Moyes will have to think long and hard about his strategy — no point playing the waiting game, just go for the kill !
On another note, I was sick to hear about Fellaini being out for 6 months. I hate to say "I told you so", but I had posted last week on TW, that I had a dark foreboding about the Fella injury — it was uncannily similar to the events surrounding the Anichebe knee breaker last year.
We never seem to get any luck, do we? Just when we think that our best mid-field is starting to play together, fate conspires again to strike a cruel blow to Blues’ hopes. Anybody noticed that all our injuries are 6 months to 12 months, whereas injuries to the Reds/Mancs/Chelski are usually "out for a few weeks" ? Hmm.....
COYB ... sigh...
9 Posted 17/02/2010 at 09:25:54
It was the subs last night that killed us. Billy failed to get on the ball and when he did he seemed incapable of getting crosses in. As for Rodwell - a talent no doubt - he was about a yard and a half off the pace which can be understood but not accepted.
Ajay - I’m a little relieved to hear that Felli will be out for some time. Moyes seems to need fate to give him a helping hand in playing his best/most balanced team sometimes and Donovan, Arteta, Osman, Piennar looks great. I’m still not convinced that Felli’s all that to be honest, I’ll wait until he’s had a good season as opposed to a good game against City.
10 Posted 17/02/2010 at 10:09:41
It’s a bad state of affairs whenever a player who constantly conceded possession gets man of the match....
Can’t say we played like the home team at any stage - was a very disjointed game..
But hey, that’s opinions...
11 Posted 17/02/2010 at 10:12:11
12 Posted 17/02/2010 at 10:28:55
"and Donovan, Arteta, Osman, Piennar looks great."
They certainly didn’t last night!
Again, good grief!
13 Posted 17/02/2010 at 11:15:29
Osman put in a good shift last night constantly breaking up Sporting’s play
& consistently winning his battles in midfield. I’m the first to criticise the lad when he gets pushed around or goes AWOL in games but fairs fair, he had a good game last night. He was certainly up for it & even gave Distin a right bollocking over positioning , just below where I was sat.
If you want to slag players off try :
Yak who looked like some obese nanna chasing a bus !
Captain ’un-marvellous’ who put his fellow defenders & keeper under pressure time after time with some daft back passes & wasted/fluffed about 95% of his forward passes.
14 Posted 17/02/2010 at 11:34:27
You might consider that a good shift - I have slightly higher standards for Everton.
But as long as he gave Distin a Bollocking eh!
I though the Yak played quite well when he came on - clever runs and passing...
But I suppose I could always be reduced to calling him fat...
15 Posted 17/02/2010 at 12:24:09
To back up a few others - Jon - you may not be convinced with Felli but eveyone else is - he will be sorely missed.
16 Posted 17/02/2010 at 12:26:21
17 Posted 17/02/2010 at 12:30:58
Regarding Osman conceding possesion, i seem to remember him having the ball and the crowd collectively screaming ’’MAN ON’’ a good few times, only for him to turn and skin 2 or 3 players (a couple of times winning us a freekick)
I do agree about the yak tho, he looked much better than he has of late.
Regarding Distin, he simply shit himself when Rodwell belted the ball at him, but i cant help but wonder why he didnt just put the ball into the stands, instead of trying to control it.
18 Posted 17/02/2010 at 12:23:07
Yobo and Senderos havnt played together and no defensive midfielder with the news on Felli. Looks like it will be captain PN to holding midfield. It will be a long and nervous night by the looks of things.
On a bright note, thought the Yak looked sharper than he has been. I would like to think judging by the first 85 minutes we could score over there.
Roll on Saturday, anyone know what time the Brick opens on early Kick Offs?
19 Posted 17/02/2010 at 12:30:05
Cahill appeared to be approaching his best form,so I wait with baited breath for news on him, I thought we missed Fellaini already last night, his confident pyhsical presence will be greatly missed, as Arteta may not get back to his best for a while.
I said before the game, everytime Distan gets the ball I panic, hes a disaster area, on the plus side fears that Yobo has lost his pace are clearly wide of the mark.
On a side note I thought the abuse Yakubu got from some sections was both ignorat and appalling, he did some very good things when he came on, and people askng him to chase a ball that he wouldnt get to if he was on a motorbike, need to wake up
20 Posted 17/02/2010 at 13:08:08
Yes, I remember him doing that at least once - possibly twice... Happy to admit that. He also wasn’t the worst on the the pitch last night either — I just think MotM ignores a hell of a lot of his mistakes (unforced onces at that — like trying to pass down the line and just putting it into touch, or losing good possession on the edge of their box by running into trouble instead of making an obvious pass).
21 Posted 17/02/2010 at 13:06:21
1. Bring the man down outside the box and get sent off, conceding a free kick
2. Don't bring him down and hope he blows it or Howard pulls one out the bag.
3. Wait till he is in the box bring him down concede a pen and get sent off!!
Now I am no expert but out of the choice of three, I think it's fair to say Distin made the wrong one.
22 Posted 17/02/2010 at 13:16:40
I think he was trying to get into a position to tackle the lad, however it was a very clumsy tackle.
A lot of folk on this site are talking about how shit Lisbon where. I didn’t see that. I saw a team that kept the ball well and used it wisely along the deck, hit the bar and went close on occasion.
I am not sure 2-1 was such a poor result. We need to score in Lisbon, end of.
23 Posted 17/02/2010 at 13:16:59
I am not happy with the scoreline but I think its better we head to Lisbon having to win the game.
A 2-0 scoreline would have been great but this is Everton we make it difficult for ourselves when it should be a walk in the park. Why oh why we sat back when we scored a second is beyond me.
Especially if they were to play like that for another 90mins.
24 Posted 17/02/2010 at 13:33:05
That’s the way I seen it too...At times they passed the ball around us - looking like they were the home side...However Moutinho was less than impressive - a couple of there other midfielders did impress though..
25 Posted 17/02/2010 at 13:27:40
Yakubu has proven how good a goal scorer he is over several years and we are lucky to have him. Let's focus on why the midfield can't hit him a decent pass in the danger area rather than moan at him for not running himself stupid chasing shit passes.
26 Posted 17/02/2010 at 14:08:40
I do not agree that Osman was MotM, personally I though Yobo, Neville, Donovan all had better games than Osman and Cahill was the best of the bunch.
One point we’ve not mentioned is the performance of Saha after Cahill came off... he was everywhere!! Well worth a 2 year extention.
It was good to see the Yak back he looked more like his former self.
Man U up next — I watched the Milan game after Everton Sporting and wow we thought we were hard done by — spare a thought for Milan!!
27 Posted 17/02/2010 at 14:30:35
A lead of 2-0 usually means game over. They were reeling after our second goal. All the signs were there for us to take the game by the scruff of the neck and kill it off.
Good teams do this. Teams with confidence do it. This is usually the message imparted from the dug-out "Push on".
What did we do? The exact opposite — stood off, let them play and grow in confidence themselves, fell so deep that the only message we were giving out was that we were satisfied with 2-0. Can anyone explain to me why we do this?
Is it collective decision of the players? Is it lack of confidence in their own ability? Is it the vibes coming from the management team.
Whatever... we have missed out on a wonderful opportunity against probably one of the worst teams left in the competition.
28 Posted 17/02/2010 at 15:44:30
Steve Coppel got it spot on at half - time, he said it was a contrast of 2 footballing styles, our direct football and their passing game.
29 Posted 17/02/2010 at 16:04:27
’The worst strikers (Johnson etc) use their speed and strength to chase useless passes away from the box into the corners’
30 Posted 17/02/2010 at 16:18:20
We got to defend higher up the pitch, a perfect example of that was the RS in the Derby; they left no space for us to operate in so we had plenty of possession in midfield with nowhere to go
31 Posted 17/02/2010 at 16:31:56
Moyes earlier on had stressed that we needed to be patient with the ball during European games and it looked exactly like that to me. I thought Sporting were the usual neat and tidy type passing side we expect from the continent, although they were no great-shakes.
Once Cahill come off we lost our shape a bit and they looked a bit shaper but that was about it really I felt that they never really threatened and we were in control for the majority of the game.
But I place the blame squarely at Rodwell's feet. I was at the game last night and directly in line with Distin when he got that suicide pass off Rodwell. I know he made a hash of it but don’t think he was expecting it to be booted back at him too be honest.
Its funny how our perceptions have changed this season. We easily controlled this match for won 2.1 and yet we’re all still moaning about it!
32 Posted 17/02/2010 at 23:54:55
33 Posted 18/02/2010 at 15:00:20
The way I saw it, we were doing a good professional job. We had restricted them to one or two half chances, and had missed a couple ourselves but had a respectable and comfortable 2-0 lead. Yeah, we could have gone hell for leather, as so many top teams do (can’t find many examples though, funny that) and have a squad, still affected by injuries, slowly running out of gas as 3 more big games approach this month. We didn’t, and but for 2 players making silly errors, it would have been a good night all round.
So criticise those errors, have your opinions on who played well and who didn’t, give your thoughts on how we should approach the 2nd leg, but if you are thinking that the team and manager approached the game the wrong way, then, IMHO, you are deluded. And seeing as he gets quoted on this site as a master tactician so often, those with that viewpoint should have a think about the Arsenal result last night, against a side one place above Sporting in the league. Cos to me, it looked like the Arse went there looking to keep it tight, and nick a goal from a set piece or something. That would have worked had they not had a fan dressed as Fabianski in goal (seriously, one of the most inept GK performances since I saw Espen Baardsen play his one and only game for us). Makes you think eh?
34 Posted 18/02/2010 at 16:21:12
What I actually said was:"probably one of the worst teams left"..
I was expressing an opinion.
That is still allowed I take it?
My point was that for the last 30 mins of the game we,for whatever reason,handed the initiative back to a team when the tie was there to be won.
I am still of that view.
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