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Match Report – Out of jail...but surely not in Europe

By Paul Traill :  25/04/2010 :  Comments (9) :

Everton vs Fulham

We obviously weren’t the only ones nursing various hangovers as we drove to the game today, parking up where we usually do…choosing to pretend not to hear the “Watch yer car mate?” request / demand. It was a strange tempo to the day, everything seemed to be so slow and it seemed to take us forever to get to The Spellow. “It’s like Shaun of the Dead” remarked Gary.

We finally arrived at the boozer and were amused by a posse of Scandinavian (we think) Evertonians all dressed head to toe in blue. It was amusing at least until they decided to blast a load of tunes out on the jukebox, forcing us outside of the pub just so we could hear each other.

Nine changes for Fulham in a game we had to take all three points from to keep alive any lingering hopes of leapfrogging Liverpool into seventh. Everton’s only change was Saha being replaced by last weeks goalscoring supersub Yakubu. Though the programme stated Mr. P Dowd was the match official it was in fact Lee Mason who got proceedings underway…Fulham winning the toss so the team switching ends.

Everton started well with Tony Hibbert particularly inventive down the right hand side, putting Nicky Shorey under pressure. It was his cross which lead to the first opening of the game…Bilyaletdinov smashing a great effort onto the post on the volley. We continued to press throughout the half albeit with nothing to show for our toils. When we did get opportunities we spurned them, not managing to hit the target with a Cahill drive across goal, a Yakubu drive across goal and a Cahill header over and wide of the goal. With another effort I actually got a touch of the ball myself with the ball deflecting and looping high up in the air and coming down perfectly in line for me to catch. Typically I fluffed pathetically, dropping the ball into the people ahead of me. Loser.

Speaking of losers, we got that losing feeling on 35 minutes when Everton, or rather Leighton Baines handing Fulham a goal, instead of hitting the ball up field or pass it forward he instead electing to pass back to Howard only for ex-Man Utd player Eric Nevland to nip in and hook the ball past the other ex-Man Utd player. What a gift of a goal…I bet Baines hopes Capello isn’t watching Match of the Day 2 tonight! Down the other end Everton tried to hit back…Cahil heading just wide. Everton still struggling to hit the target.

There were a few worrying moments before the half was over with first Arteta going off with a head injury and not returning before the break, and then a real hush descending on the stadium when Jagielka pulled up clutching his knee. We all feared the worst though thankfully he got to his feet and walked off the pitch. That was that for the half. At the break we found out Liverpool were being held 0-0 at Burnley. We felt we had to go for it with a draw being no use.

Moyes clearly felt the same, replacing Bilyaletdinov with Anchebe. The substitution paid immediate dividends with Arteta whipping a ball in, Yakubu attempting a bicycle kick , Anichebe heading it and the ball ending up somehow in the back of the net. Until literally right now as I type, I didn’t realize it had gone down as a Smalling o.g. so I’ll have to see that myself a bit later on to get to the bottom of exactly how we scored here. Regardless…1-1.

Everton really turned up the heat over the next 10 minutes, forcing Fulham onto the back-foot though unfortunately failing to make the breakthrough…Cahill coming closest with a header well kept out by his compatriot Mark Schwarzer. Everton prepared a substitution with Saha getting readied. I felt a substitution may be more detrimental at this stage as we had a fair bit of momentum. This proved to be the case with Saha introduction doing little to pull things in our favour. Yakubu kept on pulling out wide the left, perhaps trying to compensate for the now missing body in midfield.

Whatever we did it wasn’t working and Fulham had two more than reasonable opportunities of their own when first a smart move resulted in Nevland setting up Okaka for a great opportunity. It’s a good job he’s not very good as all he could do was side-foot the ball straight at Howard when through one-on-one more or less. Another opportunity saw Clint Dempsey almost get through on goal with a combination of Jagielka and I think Hibbert preventing him from getting a shot away. A less honest player and a more fussy referee may have blow for a penalty here as Dempsey could easily have gone over Jagielka’s outstretched leg.

The clock ticked on and the game slipped and slipped away. Saha headed into the side-netting with a decent chance late on though Everton did keep on going…Moyes making his last role of the dice taking off Yakubu, replacing him with Baxter.

The breakthrough finally, though undeservedly, came right at the death when Cahill heavily pressurized Chris Baird who apparently fouled our busy Aussie. Up stepped Arteta. I was convinced he’d miss (I always am) but he finished it with aplomb, sending Schwarzer the wrong way and depositing Everton’s three points. There was barely time for a restart. Full time: 2-1.

It needn’t have mattered mind. Whilst a win’s always welcome, Liverpool’s trouncing of Burnley more or less ensures we won’t be in Europe next season regardless of our results against Stoke City and Portsmouth. Yes, Liverpool losing to Chelsea is more than feasible though Hull really are that bad I think Tranmere Rovers would give them a good run for their money at the moment. I’ll be more than shocked if Liverpool lose both their games…and we win both of ours.

Still, it’s a funny old game and at least we’ve kept it alive. Now lets keep the pressure on and eek out a win in our last away game at Stoke next Saturday…you just never know.

Player Ratings:

  • Howard: Had to be quite alert at times though had a relatively comfortable afternoon. 7
  • Baines: Had a shocker. Not just wit the goal but struggled defensively throughout. 5
  • Jagielka: Coped quite comfortably. Is very good to have when we’re chasing goals as he’s excellent in one-on-one situations. 7
  • Distin: Very good defensively. Looks pretty awkward when he furrows forward mind. 7
  • Hibbert: My man of the match…if not for his offensive first half display alone. He was bombing forward, getting crosses in and getting into the box. A bit more of that please Tony. 8
  • Neville: Was doing pretty well until subbed. Was surprised he came off as I thought he’d take Hibbert off and put Neville at right back. 7
  • Arteta: Had the cahoonas with the penalty and kept things ticking along with good ball possession…if a little wasteful at times. Hopefully next season we’ll see the real Arteta…for the whole season! 7
  • Pienaar: Very busy and kept on going. We really need to tie him down to a contract as he’d be badly missed if we let him go. 7
  • Bilyaletdinov: Wasn’t necessarily doing anything wrong but Anichebe needed to be introduced and he was the obvious candidate to be replaced. Unlucky with that volley onto the post. 6
  • Cahill: Just kept on going and got his rewards in the final minute. 7
  • Yakubu: Great first half though faded in the second period before being replaced. 6
  • Anichebe (for Bilyaletdinov): Had a huge hand in the goal and was a reasonable threat. Looks very menacing once he gets running at goal, though then doesn’t know what to do when given a shooting opportunity. Should start next week. 7
  • Saha (for Neville): Didn’t get on the ball much really. 5
  • Baxter (for Yakubu): Tidy. 6

Reader Comments

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Anto Meehan
1   Posted 25/04/2010 at 23:18:51

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Just wondering...

By my reckoning if Liverpool win the Europa League and now with Portsmouth not been allowed into Europe, 8th place will be enough for the Europa League next season.

Checked this on the Uefa website and the winners are guarenteed a place and allows an extra place for that country.......

Not sure how to feel about this, seeing them twats win anything kills me!!!
David Thomas
2   Posted 25/04/2010 at 23:40:46

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Tony Hibbert would be my Man of the Match today as well. I have never been his biggest fan but credit were it is due: he was very good today.
Tim Lloyd
3   Posted 25/04/2010 at 23:56:40

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It seems obvious to me, we badly need a reliable striker. All the top teams boast at least one, mostly two...

Chelsea: Drogba and Anelka and sundry good goalscoring midfielders.
Liverpool: Gerrard and Torres and to a lesser extent Kuyt.
Man Utd: Rooney and Berbatov
Spurs: Defoe, Crouch, Pavlyuenko (or something very like that)
City: They have some great strikers but a piss poor defensive set-up.

Unfortunately, I know good strikers don't grow on trees and cost the Earth but I do feel we will not do that well until the midfield can rely on one or more guys to bulge the netting.

Chris Dawson
4   Posted 26/04/2010 at 00:06:15

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As I understand, the extra place generated by winning the Europa League only becomes active if the winner finishes outside of the European places (in this case 7th). We would still need to finish 7th or higher to get back into Europe. So here's to 2 wins for us and 2 losses for the shite... oh yeah... and Fulham for the Europa League.
Matt Traynor
5   Posted 26/04/2010 at 01:12:49

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Paul, Baines did have a shocker with the backpass, and unfortunately for him, Fabio's No 2 was in the crowd (Baldini?) so it won't have gone un-noticed even if we did get the customary 10 seconds highlights on MotD2.

One minor correction — that saving tackle on Dempsey (who to be fair could've probably gone down under Jagielka's tackle) was from Baines, not Hibbert.

Fulham were peeved as when the ball went dead prior to the penalty, it came off an Everton player, but we got the decision.

Hey, other teams have been getting away with it for years... so why not?
Stewart Littler
6   Posted 26/04/2010 at 11:15:25

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If the ref doesn't give us the throw, he's gotta give us a free kick, as the Fulham player kicked the back of Saha's leg. You see decisions like that all the time, and I'm surprised at Hodgson's reaction cos he's normally pretty sound — Fulham deserved to be beat, the only goal they scored and looked like scoring was a gift, whilst we dominated play and goalmouth action.
Tony J Williams
7   Posted 26/04/2010 at 11:55:31

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The ref and the lino were at cross purposes all game. Hibbert's excellent and hard challenge was judged fair by the lino not 5 yards away and he gave us the throw, when the ref who was about 50 yards away decides to give them a free kick.
Paul Oakes
8   Posted 26/04/2010 at 17:14:32

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If the Shite win the Europa Cup, there will be no extra place. There will be 3 Europa places only: 5th, 6th and 7th. If the Shite win the cup they qualify for europa next season... regardless of where they end up.

For us to qualify for Europe, we need to finish 7th.
Peter Hall
9   Posted 28/04/2010 at 23:49:09

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Earlier posting suggesting that Liverpool winning Europa Cup would create another place, "confirmed by UEFA" is - bollocks. The official ruling from the UEFA website is given below.

At least this means that if we overtook Liverpool, unlikely as it is, we would not lose our Europa place to them if they become holders.

is the link

2.06 Unless the UEFA Cup titleholder qualifies for the UEFA Champions League
through its domestic championship, it is guaranteed a place in the group
stage of the UEFA Europa League. If the titleholder does qualify for the
UEFA Europa League through its domestic competitions, the number of
places to which its national association is entitled in the UEFA Europa
League does not change. If the UEFA Cup titleholder does not qualify for
either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League through its
domestic competitions, its participation in the UEFA Europa League is not at
the expense of the contingent of its association.

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