It should have been an unchanged team but Louis Saha was not selected, a groin strain apparently; Jô also absent, a knee injury, Yakubu starting up-front. Big crowd and a reasonably lively start, but finishing again the problem with Osman and Pienaar both being wasteful from good positions. At the other end, Nugent nipped in cheekily and nearly beat Howard, finding the side netting as the Everton defence slept. Cahill set up Pienaar nicely again but his shot was woefully wide.
Some better play down the right but the cross from Hibbert was over-hit. More good football in the Burnley area ends with Osman lashing it wide. Fletcher shrugged off Heitinga, his shot needed to be saved by Howard. Elliot then got in and forced Howard to save. Bikey got in a good shot from the corner that hit Cahill, and Alexander tried to beat Howard from distance.
Baines delivered a great ball in to Yakubu who hooked it onto the post! End-to-end stuff! More good approach play but the final ball not close enough to any attacker. Jordan was booked for flooring Bily. Pienaar then fed Bily superbly and he beat his man but fired in the clear too close to Jensen who saved what should have been a certain goal. Another good run in from Yakubu is spoilt by another poor shot.
Burnley shapped up to have their own go at the Everton goal, and both Heitinga and Howard needed to be alert to deny Nugent again. At the other end, Heitinga got a shot in from distance but again, off trget. Story of the half fpr a very attacking game from Everton in a very lively first half; dominance again, but nothing to show for it.. again.
Chances continued to be squandered by both sides after the break. Bikey fouled Yakubu and was booked fbut the dangerous free-kick was not so much, Heitinga driving it low at Jensen. Cahill won a free-kick that was taken quickly and Yakubu scored but they were hauled back and Baines could only smack it into the wall. AT the other end, from a corner, Nugent beat Howard but his shot spun away off the face of the post.!!!
Cahill was tackled late by Elliott who was booked, but Cahill went off, clutching his foot, allowing Neville to finally come on after his long injury layoff. Jordan pulled Pienaar's shirt... second yelllow, red card.. Off! Burnley down to 10 men for the last 25 mins. Fellaini then came close. For Burnley, their Evertonian bright spark, Nugent, was sacrificed for defender
The ball spun to Yakubu off a clearance and his header was superbly tipped over by Jensen. Duff went in the book for tripping Bily on the edge of the area after a beautiful layoff from Yakubu. Baines again whacked the ball into the wall and away for a corner that was too soft and floated in when power was required. Baines got another chance but his final ball was blocked for another corner.
More good work ked to a shot from Bily that was deflected just wide; Fellaini headed the corner over; even against 10 men, a goal just would not come. Vaughan on for Bily with 8 mins left and his first touch, catching a gift ball Yakubu missed, hammering it low inside the post. A fantastic moment for the lad, but Burnley weren't for lying down, Eagles forcing a last-ditch save from Howard.
Vaughan getting in the face of Jensen, the Beast, much to the delight of the crowd! Still a pulsating game despite the disparities, McDonald firing superbly and forcing a full-stretch save from Howard. Mears booked for a trailing leg from behind.
Fellaini got a great shot in the last minute, forcing a great save from Jensen. A great run from Yakubu, feeding Pienaar, a brilliant shot on the run first time left foot, inside the post... GOAL! A second goal, nothing less than Everton deserved for an excellent display — and hardly a single hoofball to spoil it. Pienaar was apparently booked for his celebration (exposing his T-shirt emblazoned "God is Great").
A win... for the first time in THREE MONTHS at Goodison Park.
Everton rounded out 2009 by finally winning at Goodison for the first time in three months but for long stretches of a pulsating encounter against a plucky Burnley side, it looked as though the home faithful were going to be frustrated by another draw, even after the visiting side were reduced to 10 men with half an hour left on the clock.
David Moyes made just one change to the eleven that started the previous games against Birmingham and Sunderland, Louis Saha missing out with a hamstring strain and Yakubu coming in to play as the lone striker, and there was yet more pleasing football to warm a packed Holiday Monday crowd but, again, the final touch left much to be desired until two late goals eventually settled the game.
In truth, Everton laboured to what should have been a routine victory and last season probably would have been a rout. But confidence is visibly low in some players, sharpness lacking in others and with more luck, Burnley could have put an entirely different complexion on this game.
Things started well enough for Everton and when Steven Pienaar combined with Yakubu in the first minute and the Nigerian cut the ball back for Leon Osman, the first goalscoring chance arrived, but the ball came a little behind the midfielder and he couldn't dig it out for shot from close range.
James Vaughan celebrates the first goal since his most recent comeback
Three minutes later, Yakubu saw a goalound half-volley strike a defender's hand and deflect wide but only a corner was given, before David Nugent stole in behind Lucas Neill after reading the path of the defender's back-header but, thankfully, he lashed a left-foot volley into the side-netting.
Predictably, it was mostly one-way traffic towards the Park End and Osman failed to test Jensen with a tame effort and Tim Cahill's neat back-heel to Pienaar deserved a better finish than the South African's wayward effort on his weaker foot from the edge of the box. Osman did little better a couple of minutes later when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov sent the ball back across when Leighton Baines' cross from the left had skidded all the way through to the far side but Osman despatched an awful shot that threatened the corner flag more than the goal.
The Clarets had plenty of enterprising moments themselves and had a dangerous spell around the 20-minute mark when first Fletcher forced a parriying save from Tim Howard with a stinging drive and the American then had to palm a Wade Elliott shot around his post a minute later. From the resulting corner, Andre Bikey hammered a volley that was heading for goal until it met Cahill and the ball rebounded to Graham Alexander whose 25-yard shot was saved.
Everton's reply almost brought the opener. Baines swung in a peach of a cross from deep on the left flank which Yakubu met with a cushioned volley but he could only guide the ball into the face of the post and the chance was lost. Bilyaletdinov was then denied by Jensen with perhaps the best chance of the half before the Yak drove into the area, only to fire disappointingly wide with his right foot.
The last action of a keenly contested and busy first period saw John Heitinga blaze over from 18 yards after Jensen had punched clear a Baines corner.
If the Blues had become frustrated and a little short of belief after failing to make the breakthrough against a team who have yet to win on their travels so far this season, it showed in the opening quarter of an hour of the second half, a period in which Burnley had their best prolonged spell and came within an inch of breaking the deadlock.
Everton had had the first chances of the second half when Bikey fouled Yakubu outside the area but Heitinga drove a daisy-cutter under the defensive wall and into the grateful arms of the goalkeeper and Baines then registered an even more striking failure from an equally inviting position by blasting poorly into the wall with his kick.
A minute before the hour mark, though, when a Burnley corner was cleared only as far as another white shirt and it was knocked back over the top for Nugent, the striker was played onside by Pienaar and, with all the space he needed, he ripped a shot across goal and off the far post from a tight angle. An inch or two to the right and it would have been 1-0 Burnley.
A minute or so later, the inevitable happened. With Moyes able to welcome back Phil Neville to fitness, it seemed obvious given his luck with injuries this season that he should immediately lose another player. The footballing gods duly obliged when Cahill took himself onto the sidelines clutching his ankle and eventually hobbled his way around to the tunnel, clearly unable to continue.
Neville came on to replace him and within two minutes, the Clarets were a man down. Steven Jordan, who picked up a booking in the first half for a poor challenge, was caught by referee Howard Webb tugging on Pienaar's jersey and he was summarily dismissed for a second bookable offence. From the resulting free kick, Marouane Fellaini rose well but could only steer a header into Jensen's arms.
Referee Webb brandishes a red card to Jordan for second bookable offence
Still Everton toiled and still they couldn't find the telling final ball or execute when chances fell their way. Despite the man advantage, they still never seemed to have enough men in the area when they did get forward, but because of all the possession they had, chances did keep coming.
Yakubu gratefully accepted a fortuitous ricochet but saw his looping header tipped behind by the 'keeper, before Bilyaletdinov was tripped by Duff as he charged into the "D" and side-stepped into space beside the defender. That earned Duff a yellow card but Baines' direct free kick caught the wall and deflected wide. Four minutes later, Bilyaletdinov was also denied by a deflection when his arrowed, goalbound drive struck a defender and bounced wide.
In between, Neill might have been fortunate to get away with a handball claim when he raised his elbow to block a Chris Eagles cross and the massed ranks of Burnley fans in the Bullens Road stand bayed in protest at referee Webb's decision to wave play on.
There were just eight minutes left when Moyes finally made his attacking change, removing the mercurial Bilyaletdinov in favour of James Vaughan. The move paid dividends a minute later. Pienaar held the ball under his studs a few seconds to allow Fellaini to overlap behind him, found the Belgian with a delicate backheel and when the big-haired midfielder slid the ball across goal, Yakubu should have converted. When he missed the ball, Vaughan was on hand at the back post to tuck it past Elliott's despairing lunge and finally break the stalemate.
Still Burnley came forward and after Howard had bundled Eagles' shot behind, the American made a diving catch to deny McDonald's drive from 20 yards. That never-say-die attitude on the part of Owen Coyle's men kept Everton on edge in the closing stages and prompted the unwelcome — though probably advisible — sight of the Blues playing keep-ball in the corners, at home, against 10-man Burnley, with five minutes left on the clock.
When they did attack, though, right on 90 minutes, Fellaini was denied brilliantly by Jensen who pushed his shot behind and then, two minutes into stoppage time, the home side doubled their lead. Baines found Yakubu down the left and he drove inside before finding Pienaar's run down the left channel. The midfielder took the ball in stride and smashed home a superb left-foot shot that gave the goalkeeper no chance.
Steven Pienaar hammers home the second in stoppage time
So, in the end, a scoreline that their play deserved but an overall performance that did little to erase concerns of the team's abiilty to put together the kind of run of results that will be required to push on up the table and into the top six.
At the heart of Moyes's problems is a dearth of killer instinct in forward areas and a lack of threat down the right flank where Bilyaletdinov has little of the support, link-up play and understanding that Pienaar enjoys with Baines. Tony Hibbert is an excellent defensive full-back on his day and proved it again today, but what he lacks but Seamus Coleman offers is a natural desire to attack the byline and make runs on the overlap.
That is one area where assistance could be provided for Bilyaletdinov as he acclamatises to the English game, although he showed today that when he gets the bit between his teeth and chooses to run at defenders, that he can be very dangerous. Having lost dead-ball responsibilities, though, and seeing too many of his passes go astray, it's clear that the Russian has some way to go before he fully adjusts to his new surroundings.
Pienaar, by contrast, remains the creative heartbeat of the team and while he wasn't at his best today, he was still head-and-shoulders the best Everton player on the park and deserved his goal. Defensively, there was more to admire from Neill and Heitinga, although the away side did create a worrying number of openings, and though Yakubu was sloppy at times, there were signs of the player who rattled in 21 goals the season before last.
Phil Neville celebrates the first goal
Next up Carlisle in the FA Cup and another chance to get a home win on the board. Perhaps, also, an opportunity to allow Coleman to press his claims for a starting berth and for Vaughan to get more playing time has he begins another bid to regain full fitness.
If ever a team needed a win as reward for their recent efforts it's Everton and they could ask for no better fixture with which to close out 2009 with that elusive victory. What has become an inescapable statistic, namely the fact that David Moyes's side haven't won at home in two and a half months, could and should be erased this holiday Monday against a Burnley team that has lost all but one of their away games this season.
Of course, nothing is guaranteed in the Premier League these days. For that you need look no further than the Blues who have utterly dominated the last 180 minutes they've played but managed just two goals and two points from the games against Birmingham and Sunderland. So, while this is a great opportunity, Moyes will no doubt be telling his charges to go hell for leather for victory.
With the possible exception of Louis Saha, who took a heavy knock at the Stadium of Light but played almost the entire match, the manager has no new injury concerns and he could have Phil Neville available again no that he has recovered from a knee ligament injury.
The club captain is short of fitness, though, so it's unlikely he'll start. Indeed, it's hard to see where he would fit in right now seeing as how well Marouane Fellaini has been playing in the defensive midfield role.
Moyes could opt for an unchanged line-up for the second match running and that would mean Leon Osman continuing in central midfield and Tim Cahill partnering Saha up front. Jô is still doubtful with a knee injury and Moyes has been reticent to start with Saha and Yakubu even though it would be an extremely positive and welcome move against a side like Burnley.
Like Everton, Burnley could be without their first choice central defensive pairing as both Clarke Carlisle and Steven Caldwell missed the Boxing Day draw with Bolton due to groin strains. Boyhood Blue, David Nugent, who scored the Clarets' equaliser against the Trotters, is in line to start up front for Burnley as they visit Goodison looking to complete their first double of the season.
Everton, meanwhile, will be looking for revenge for the 1-0 reverse they suffered at Turf Moor in August.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2009-10 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Bilyaletdinov (82' Vaughan)|
|Cahill (74' Neville)|
|Subs not used|
|Jordan :27' :62'|
|Elliott :60' (85' Blake)|
|Fletcher (81' Thompson)|
|Nugent (64' Kalvenes)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Monday 28 December 2009|
|Tuesday 29 December 2009|
|Wednesday 30 December 2009|
|Premier League Table|
|After 30 Dec 2009|