COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL
Lisbon 11-2 Everton
With recent form good and us looking more comfortable than the scoreline would suggest from the first leg, we set off for this one with optimism, already making tentative plans for Madrid.
Similarly to our last trip to Lisbon we went via Faro (in the Algarve). Last time the plane contained a sprinkling of Evertonians as most had taken easier routes to Porto and directly to Lisbon. This time the only direct cheap airlines flights to Lisbon seemed to be from London, so this time around the EasyJet flight from Liverpool was packed full of Blues. “Its like everyone’s flying to Iraq ready for war” proclaimed Idder as we queued to board the plane.
Typically the flight out was delayed but not by long and we were soon on our way. We got chatting to a really good bloke Phil next to us on the flight. He was a good laugh and made the journey go quicker. It’s always good to hear others stories on these sort of trips. Elsewhere on the flight, we were on the plane when they informed us we were delayed. Some of the younger lads on the journey had purchased a bottle of vodka from duty free and was carrying that up and down the plan until the eagle eyed air stewardess got wind of it and took it off him much to the young lads dismay. We touched down in Faro around half an hour later than scheduled.
We rented a car last time and I recalled there being pretty big queues at the car rental desk. With this in mind I legged it from the passport check as we exited and it was just as well I did as had I not have done I would probably have been caught up I the queue and I was eager to get on the road. The car was crap – a Mazda - though was all we needed to get on the road.
The journey from Faro to Lisbon is quite simply a doddle, with very few other cars on the road you’re able to put your foot down. Unfortunately this only leads you to being completely under-prepared for the chaos in store when you arrive in Lisbon. Last time we spent ages looking for our hotel, so much so that we missed the start of the game. This time weren’t quite as bad as thankfully I had the wisdom to check ahead with the hotel for some general directions. This helped but didn’t stop us from struggling to find the Grand Campe. Fortunately our hotel was practically across the road from the Estadio Jose Alvalade stadium so once we found that it was quite straightforward finding the hotel.
Finding a bar wasn’t quite as easy though. I figured most Blues would be living it up around Rossio Square but as we were by the stadium anyway we didn’t really fancy going all that way back to come back again an hour or so later, and figured there’d be a few bars in and around the stadium. It turned out there wasn’t so we moved closer to the stadium and eventually found a very small hole-in-the-wall type bar, before finally finding an alternative one just the other side of the stadium, near the metro station.
There were quite a few Sporting Lisbon fans already there…though many of which looked rather hooligan-ish in their Fred Perry jackets and Burberry caps / scarves etc. We got chatting to a few Southern Blues outside the bar who’d made the trip over a day earlier…all except for one of them mind, who’d travelled with KLM from Leeds only for his flight to be delayed by practically 24 hours and hence a nightmare journey out. He wasn’t the only one with such a hellish journey mind. The lad explained that Yobo and Yakubu were also on the flight, having been turned away at customs on the squads flight due to a problem with their passports…I reckon someone took a canning for that one.
As more and more Blues arrived off the train things got a bit noisier and sensing their moment some of the Lisbon fans began to taunt us with chants of ‘Liverpool’. Next thing we knew the shutters started to come down at the bar as some of the Blues squared up to the Lisbon fans. This was our cue to enter the stadium.
Once we were past the police checks and into the ground we were up some steps and in our seats. I’m never actually inside the ground this long before a game but it was just when Everton came out to warm up. With many Evertonians already inside the ground they received a great reception. This in contrast to the extremely sparsely populated Lisbon support. The fella sat next to me was a British expat living in Portugal so was able to give me a heads up with regards to the Sporting Lisbon players and their supporters. He warned me that nobody was attending the game as they were sure their team had no chance of progressing. With such lack of support and with our team being backed all the way you felt the players couldn’t help to be lifted by this…
Not the case unfortunately as Everton lacked any fight or bite from the first whistle regardless of the great backing from the travelling hoards. Despite the scarcity of Sporting Lisbon supporters in the stadium a small section of them made a fair bit of noise and got behind their team.
I don’t know if its Moyes tactics to blame or the Everton team just getting completely lost at sea in an unfamiliar environment but the way we went about it in the first half you were mighty relieved to hear the half time whistle at 0-0. It was all Sporting Lisbon, all one way traffic and you wondered what had became of the team which beat Manchester United at the weekend. We did actually have the ball in the net via Senderos in the first half though this was given offside. At half time it was goalless but as the fella next to me pointed out, Everton were playing a dangerous game if they were playing for a draw as 1-0 was enough for Sporting.
If the first half was bad then the second period was completely disastrous with Sporting capitalizing on Everton’s inability to get into the game. Early in the second half Senderos limped off to give Jagielka an earlier than expected return to action. I’d forgotten how good he was you know. His positional sense is second to none and for a player to come straight back into a team and perform like that after so long out is pretty incredible really…regardless, it didn’t effect the result.
I think we finally had an effort on goal on about the hour mark when Stephen Pienaar curled an effort wide of the goal from the edge of the box. Rodwell came on for Bilyaletdinov to tighten up the midfield a bit more but Sporting scored not long after that with Veloso scoring a crucial goal to give Sporting the edge in this one. They’d missed a sitter just prior to that also so we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Everton finally woke up here, beginning to attack purposefully and nearly scoring when Saha was picked out by I think Baines. He looked certain to score from close range though somehow fluffed it and the rebound just couldn’t quite get gathered by the inrushing Osman. Instead it was Sporting who went 2-0 ahead with Mendez smashing an effort from distance after clumsy defending by Everton throughout.
Still, this hadn’t really changed anything as the objective was still the same – get a goal and your still in this. Plenty of pressing yes but it was insufficient distribution and questionable officiating which was the main reason behind Everton’s downfall here. Two examples stick in my mind in particular.
- For bad distribution – a long ball by Yobo which was just too far for everyone and straight through to the keeper.
- For bad officiating – Leighton Baines was clearly chopped down in a sliding tackle near the box as he galloped forward though the referee somehow inexplicably didn’t give it.
Everton continued to press but were caught with the sucker punch right at the very end, with Sporting breaking away and Fernandez eventually skipping around Howard and walking the ball into an empty net. “Let's go” I said but we couldn’t as we had to stay in the ground long after the full time whistle.
The police were in full riot gear and with people getting restless and wanting out something was bound to happen sooner or later. Happen it did with battens flying as people got agro. One guy was sent flying down a load of steps by a stray batten I think, whilst when they finally let us go two guys were in tears outside as they’d been sprayed with CS gas. It was pretty shameful all round really. Some people went a bit too far, though the Police reaction was well over the top and somebody could have been seriously hurt here.
Once we were out the night did finally get a bit better, as like last time we headed to the Bairro Alto to sample some of the Portuguese nightlife. We got chatting to a few Portuguese lads, a couple of whom supported Sporting Lisbon and one Benfica. It didn’t take them long to point out they’d collectively battered us 11-2 between them all this season…how embarrassing. Like us, they also couldn’t understand how we’d just beaten Chelsea and Manchester United though were so inept on the night. I wish I knew, I really do.
Idder had to be up bloody early the next day as he had to get an early train to Porto at 6am to catch a flight to Brussels. This left me to fend for myself getting out of Lisbon in the car to get back down to Faro. Needless to say, I made a pigs ear of this, overall taking 1 ½ hours just to get out of Lisbon, and then making an even bigger mess of finding my hotel amidst the impossible roads of Faro. Having arrived in Faro about 2pm I finally got to the hotel (completely tormented) at about 4pm. I had a decent night mind. There were plenty of Blues in and around the town so we made the best of it. Quite how I got up, got the car back to the airport and made my flight home the next morning I just don’t know.
A decent trip abroad albeit with a few incidents, lets hope we can make enough of our generous run in to ensure we get another opportunity to enjoy the continent come next season.
Howard: Rather helpless with all three goals really and wasn’t really aided by his defense ahead of him. 6
Baines: Improved with Pienaar ahead of him once Bilyaletdinov was subbed. Is much better when encouraged to attack than when told to stay back. 5
Senderos: Weren’t doing too badly until subbed I suppose. 6
Yobo: Started like he meant business but was increasingly sloppy as the game wore on…maybe he was knackered from missing his flight. 5
Neville: Didn’t do enough for me, particularly late in the game when we really needed him to push forward a bit more. 4
Arteta: My man of the match. Showed true quality at times. Will be great if he can be fully flying come the start of next season. 8
Bilyaletdinov: Never got into the game and was rightly subbed. Seems he’s quite the whipping boy amongst the boo boys. Hope this doesn’t affect his confidence too much because I’m convinced he can improve. 5
Osman: Was quite lively though capable of better. 6
Pienaar: Can do better. Much more effective on the wing than in the centre though you can see why Moyes wants his quality in there. 5
Donovan: Had a shocker really. 4
Saha: Hardly saw the ball. Needed better support though missed a sitter also. 5
Jagielka (for Senderos): Great to see him back. Remarkable how well he did. Looking forward to seeing him playing with Heitinga, though you wonder if he may partner Distin to have a left side and right side centre back partnership. 7
Rodwell (for Bilyaletdinov): Should have come on sooner I thought as a goal seemed more a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. I guess he did OK. 6
Yakubu (for Saha): Was bright and lively. Also, perhaps should have been given longer. 7
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1 Posted 02/03/2010 at 13:12:53
We got exactly what we deserved... I wonder whether some of them read too much into the Man U win and forgot what they were about: working hard.
Boy did we miss Cahill's effort... I cannot believe their defense would have been allowed the time they had on the ball if he had been on the field.
2 Posted 02/03/2010 at 14:08:52
3 Posted 02/03/2010 at 17:34:34
I watched the game on big screen TV in easy chair comfort. Brother, I was so pissed off by the gutless wonders in blue I can only imagine how the travelling fans would have felt.
An abject appology to those die hard fans was the least owed to them by the club.
was the debacle caused by awful tactics or sheer gutlessness I don’t know but suspect the former played a big part of it.
It is a pity we cannot dock their wages for such ineptitude.
Once again Paul a big than you.
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