No Arteta due to a continuing groin strain, so Bilyaletdinov was recalled to a starting role, with Saha starting as the lone front player. Rodwell getting the Rooney treatment... on the bench with the likes of Duffy and Wallace.
It was scrappy stuff for the first few minutes in the blazing sunshine, until Bily swung in a nice free-kick that no-one attacked. Everton's passing improved around 5 mins but Bily's cross was poor. Everton were playing too many lofted balls but a poor ground pass from Pienaar allowed West Ham to break for the first and second corners of the game., that ended with Parker shooting over.
Everton's limitations were shown when possession down the left hit a cul-de-sac and Distin on his third attempt could only float another harmless cross into the keeper's hands. More guile required. That came on 13 mins with Cahill winning a free-kick in a good forward location that Baines drove poorly into the foot of the wall.
Some neater passing looked to get Osman forward but he was challenged well. Another foul on Cahill saw Parker get his 10 th yellow card of the season and this time Saha ‘s shot was unbelievably bad, shanking it horribly wide. A dreadful pass from Jagielka let the Hammers attack again, and it needed a good block by Heitinga.
West Ham were dropping deep, marking well, and filling all the spaces, making life in possession difficult and largely fruitless for the Blues despite lots of time on the ball in the West Ham half. But the ice was suddenly broken on 23 mins after a poor skyed header from the West Ham defence was nodded back by Cahill to Bily who nonchalantly glanced it into the net for his sixth goal of the season.
The goal should have had a settling effect on Everton but instead it seemed to inspire the Hammers. But Everton were soon attacking again, although still drifting in too many lame crosses rather than getting in closer and playing better ground balls. Cahill tried to run the ball in but scuffed his shot wide.
But a harmless looking attack ended up with Distin and Cole colliding on a good short pass into the area, where Howard Webb awarded a penalty that Mido tried to pass into the net and Howard saved superbly. Justice done, perhaps, as the penalty was questionable, although Distin was booked but not red-carded.
Cahill running forward laid off a lovely ball for Bily to run across the area with but his shot was rising away from goal. Saha nearly got away from his marker who recovered well to block his shot that was probably going wide. Mido was then booked for stepping on Pienaar's foot.
Heitinga went on a nice run but incredibly, instead of continuing to force the play forward, Saha played it backwards. The move, however, did win Everton's first corner on the brink of half-time but again the floated cross was a gift for Green to pluck out of the air.
It was a poor first half from Everton, but a marginally poorer one thankfully from West Ham, who had come to defend, and spurned a gifted penalty chance. Perhaps Everton would do better with the sun on their backs, playing into the Gwladys Street???
Baines went down heavily and needed treatment at the start of the second block a mido shot that could have been dangerous as Everton struggled to get a grip on proceedings, Distin's launched hoof going straight into touch! Cahill then tried some keep-ball near the corner flag.
Cahill then went in the book for a trailing-leg catch on Parker, West ham's free kick bouncing harmlessly out… what a dreadful game of football, perfectly epitomized buy Neville's dithering throw-in, the return ball which he allowed to roll under his foot and out of play.
West Ham looked better, especially when Noble chipped a ball Everton could not clear right on to the crossbar before West Ham predictably equalized off the corner, Maunel Da Costa bundling the ball past Howard on the hour mark. Shocking stuff from Everton to this point.
Rodwell looked to be warming up, of course only after Everton had conceded, but it was Yakubu who eventually came on in place of Bily after West Ham threatened with another corner, and after Carlton Cole ran the length of the field and thankfully screwed his shot wide. 4-4-2? … but for how long? Heitinga's shot from distance was abysmal.
Noble clattered Pienaar and got booked. From the free kick, Saha lunged at the ball as Da Costa cleared and the screams went up for a penalty, but no joy for Everton from Howard Webb. It is questionable whether Neville could possibly play any worse, each touch looking horrific.
73 mins and a bit better thrust from Everton down the middle won a free kick that Pienaar floated in to zero effect. Yakubu tried a chip that went just horribly wrong, as Neville planted a defensive header straight to Stanislav's feet… some simply dreadful football from Everton.
10 mins left and nothing going right for a flat and lifeless Blues side, unable to take the game to an even worse West Ham team. But Jagielka and Saha running forward did finally produce a half-decent piece of joined-up football that won an Everotn corner which Jagielka bicycle-kicked high over the bar. In a move astounding for its incomprehensible tardiness, Rodwell replaced the anonymous Osman with 7 mins left.
Cahill luckily blocked a clearance to Yakubu and then a sequence of decent play saw a much better cross from Baines planted into the corner of the net by Yakubu. What a relief! But it would prove to be excruciatingly short-lived...
Everton backed off and backed off, and failed to challenge the advancing Flaubert, who swung forward a superb ball that was headed home brilliantly with unstoppable power by Ilan for a fabulous second equalizer. Incredible how Everton totally failed to defend the danger! 2-2.
Everton won another free-kick that was yet again floated in with no pace and easily cleared, setting Stanislav in with a chance at the other end. 3 mins of added time, Baines giving away a late corner that thankfully came to nothing as Cahill went down in a heap.
A shockingly bad performance by Everton, squandering the opportunity of an eighth home victory in succession, and underlining the lack of faith Moyes has persistently underlined regarding his team's ability to qualify for Europe. Sadly a fitting microcosm for a dreadfully disappointing and frustrating season.
What should have been a routine victory that would have brought Everton to within two points of Aston Villa in the race for European qualification ended with more frustration as a lethargic first-half performance gave way to an unforgiveably limp display after half time that allowed crisis-stricken West Ham to twice come from behind and earn a draw.
With four points squandered now against Wolves and the Hammers, David Moyes's side have put a huge question mark over their ability to qualify for the Europa League — Villa and Liverpool are four points away and both have games in hand, although the Blues can take a big strike back into contention with victory at Villa Park in 10 days' time.
Given their form since December, the way they'd despatched Chelsea and Manchester United in February, and the fact that they had won seven consecutive home games before today, this should have been a foregone conclusion for Everton against a West Ham side who had lost six straight games and slumped to the brink of the relegation zone.
And though their demeanour in the first half was dripping with complacency, they did get the first goal that might, on another day, have opened the floodgates with 23 minutes on the clock when Diniyar Bilyaletdinov capitalised on awful defending to score his sixth goal for the Club. A deep Leighton Baines cross was headed high into the air by a defender and Tim Cahill was allowed to head the ball back across goal virtually unchallenged for Bilyaletdinov to nod past Robert Green.
Disaster almost struck 12 minutes later, though, when, in a rare moment of attacking incisiveness, Scott Parker split the Everton defence releasing Carlton Cole who moved across Sylvain Distin just as the defender was putting in his challenge for the ball. The Frenchman caught the striker's foot, sending him sprawling and referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot after a moment's deliberation.
Distin was incredulous but was fortunate not to receive a straight red card for the second time this season for bringing down an opponent as the last man. In truth, it was common-sense refereeing by Webb even if he wasn't applying the letter of the law — a penalty should be sufficient punishment in such circumstances but that it isn't the current FIFA directive.
In any case, when Mido struck a left-footer aimed at the corner of the net, Tim Howard dived across his line and pushed the spot-kick behind to record another fine penalty save at Goodison Park.
That should have been a warning sign for Everton but they continued to amble their way through the rest of the first-half and even though they would enjoy 63% of the possession before half time, they did very little meaningful with it. Bilyaletdinov might have done better after picking up Cahill's lay-off but he fired over from 20 yards while a rare moment of skill from Louis Saha almost provided an opening but after chesting the ball down and turning smartly, he saw his shot charged down by Da Costa.
Just as they were at Wolves last weekend, the Blues looked lost at times without Mikel Arteta. Despite being afforded acres of space at times, Distin, Phil Jagielka and Phil Neville consistently opted for useless long balls forward which yielded very little in the way of flick-ons or knock-downs. Jagielka's distribution was, again, particularly poor and Neville was almost non-existent as a threat down the right flank. And with Steven Pienaar unusually quiet, there wasn't much product down the left either.
Still, there was hope that the Blues would step it up in the second half and put the Hammers to the sword. When instead the home side seemed to come out of the dressing room having taken tranquilisers, Gianfranco Zola's hitherto tentative and nervous outfit began to grow in confidence. Quicker to the ball and more keen to close opponents down, they suddenly looked capable of getting something out of the match.
And with neither side having created anything of note for the first quarter of an hour after the interval, it was West Ham who struck first in the second half. Mark Noble had clipped a shot off the crossbar that was put behind by Neville and from the resulting corner, Da Costa profited when the ball dropped to his feet and he scooped it past Howard from close range to level the game.
Again, the response from Everton was fairly anaemic and had Cole not dragged his shot wide when put into the clear again five minutes later, the Hammers might have taken a shock lead. Moyes withdrew Bilyaletdinov in favour of Yakubu but apart from a scuffed effort by John Heitinga and a decent shout for a penalty when Da Costa felled Saha in the box with a leg across his mid-section (waved away, of course), they didn't really look like retaking the lead.
It took until the 84th minute for what should have been the winner to arrive and it came from one of a precious few good moves by the home team. Cahill did well to find Pienaar with a square pass and he found substitute Jack Rodwell. When he, in turn, laid it in for Baines to whip in a cross, Yakubu met his centre and sneaked a header inside the near post with Green stranded. Goodison celebrated and let out a sigh of relief. Job done the hard way but three vital points nonetheless.
West Ham had other ideas, though, and Everton were still celebrating when Junior Stanlislas advanced into an ocean of space on the West Ham right and drove a brilliant cross into the box that was met at full speed by substitute Ilan who powered a header past Howard to send the traveling Hammers fans and Zola on the bench into delirium. Just as was the case at the Stadium of Light in December when Darren Bent scored a very similar goal, the two Everton players in the centre — in this case, Heitinga and Jagielka — were beaten by the pace and the timing of the cross and neither put in a challenge as the Brazilian headed home.
That, despite six more minutes of playing time, albeit interrupted by — but then not fully compensated for by the referee — an injury to Cahill, was it. Everton hoofed balls towards the box and Heitinga lobbed some lame balls onto claret heads as injury time ticked away to a lame finale witnessed by those fans who hadn't already trooped out in disgust at a limp performance by the Blues.
Very little else to say, really. If this Everton team want repeat qualification for Europe, they have not shown the desire or the imagination in the last two games to achieve it. They have become complacent, expecting goals and points to come rather than putting in the shift over 90 minutes or playing the football to earn them. The cost: four points lost — six if you count the two dropped at St Andrews — that would have kept them right on the shoulders of their rivals rather than hoping that they slip up on the home straight.
Player Ratings: Howard 7, Neville 5, Jagielka 6, Distin 7*, Baines 6, Heitinga 7, Osman 5 (Rodwell 6), Pienaar 6, Bilyaletdinov 6 (Yakubu 6), Cahill 6, Saha 5
Everton are back to the comforts of home after back-to-back away games at Manchester City that yielded four points from six in their chase for a European place. Having won seven straight at Goodison in the Premier League, a feat hitherto not matched since 1990, the Blues will fancy their chances against a West Ham side in crisis.
Gianfranco Zola has managed to cling to his job at Upton Park despite the Hammers losing six on the bounce and sinking to the brink of the relegation zone — they lie a place above the drop-zone heading into this weekend's game but only on goal difference from 18th-place Hull City.
Added to that is Everton's own record against West Ham which has yielded more Premier League points than from any other side and victory for David Moyes's side would represent the League double over the East Londoners for the second season running.
It looks as though Moyes will have to do it without midfield maestro, Mikel Arteta, though. The Spaniard missed the frustrating draw at Wolves last weekend with a groin strain and is again rated as doubtful, as is Joseph Yobo who presumably picked something up in training.
Dan Gosling, of course, is ruled out until next year with the cruciate knee ligament injury he suffered in the closing stages at Molineux.
Assuming Arteta isn't passed fit to play, Moyes is likely to name an unchanged line-up from the one that started against Wolves as Phil Neville prepares to make his 200th start for the Club since joining from Manchester United five years ago.
As the Blues have found out on occasions already this season, nothing is a given in the Premier League but anything short of victory would be a massive disappointment. West Ham are a mess at the moment and have shipped nine goals against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in recent weeks which will be encouraging for an Everton team that put five past Hull a month ago.
A win would, of course, bring Moyes's boys back within two points of Aston Villa setting up a titanic tussle at Villa Park in 10 days' time as the two clubs duke it out for the final Europa League qualifying spot.
|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|
|Osman (82' Rodwell)|
|Bilyaletdinov (65' Yakubu)|
|Subs not used|
|WEST HAM (4-4-2)|
|Stanislas (90+3' Gabidon)|
|Subs not used|
|Premier League Scores|
|Saturday 3 April 2010|
|Sunday 4 April 2010|