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Everton fightback stuns City

By Lyndon Lloyd :  08/05/2011 :  Comments (11) :

Everton conjured a riveting victory from what, on the evidence of the first half, looked destined to be a lethargic end-of-season display to register a fourth straight win over Manchester City and maintain their 100% record over Champions League-chasing Roberto Mancini.

Second-half goals by Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman turned this match on its head, stunned the visitors just when they appeared to be strolling to a vital victory at Goodison Park, and provided the home faithful with some real value for money.

Unbeaten on home turf since November, it's rare that the Blues are out-played at Goodison but City stamped their authority on proceedings early on and, after David Silva had flashed a shot across Tim Howard's goal, Patrick Vieira really should have put them ahead after 10 minutes. James Milner's cross found SIlva at the back post and he knocked it back first time to Vieira but the Frenchman belted the ball over when he really should have hit the target.

Everton, featuring one change from the side that drew at Wigan last weekend as John Heitinga came into a five-man midfield instead of Tim Cahill, were struggling to create anything meaningful going forward at all, their inadequacies illustrated in the 13th minute when Osman wasted their first real opportunity to open City up by attempting a speculative 30-yard shot that he screwed embarrassingly towards the corner flag.

When Vincent Kompany scythed through the back of Victor Anichebe, though, right on the edge of the area, Mikel Arteta had a sight of goal with the direct free kick but a double deflection took the ball wide and two subsequent corners came to nothing.

And five minutes later, City made the breakthrough they'd been threatening. Distin committed himself with an ill-advised lunge to try and intercept an inside pass to Silva and that left the Spaniard with time to slip it forward to Yaya Toure on the overlap and he rammed the ball past Howard from the angle.

The home side barely managed a response until a couple of minutes before half time when Jack Rodwell rose to meet Phil Neville's cross from the right but steered a header narrowly wide.

David Moyes responded positively during the interval, though, deciding to withdraw Tony Hibbert, move Neville to right back and introduce Jermaine Beckford as the new spearhead to the attack. Victor Anichebe, who had acquitted himself well from a physical standpoint but not offered much threat to the visitors' goal, was moved to a wider role on the right and the Blues looked altogether more dangerous right from the restart.

Indeed, Beckford almost found himself with his team's first clear-cut chance in front of goal when Leighton Baines picked him out with a low free kick on 47 minutes but Kompany nicked it off the striker's toe and stabbed it behind for a corner.

But any shift in the pendulum appeared premature just three minutes later when Toure was put into the clear behind the Everton defence and his long-legged stride took him into the box with Osman as the last man trying manfully to keep up with him. Howard foiled him, however, with a superb block after coming out to close him down and the deficit remained 1-0, as it would do so a minute later as well when Edin Dzeko's header flew inches wide thanks to a slight deflection off Distin.

Everton started to come into things from an attacking point of view as the half wore on, though, and Beckford and Anichebe showed some signs of an understanding, not least when the big forward intercepted a pass out of the City defense and quickly found Beckford who spun and shot in one fluid movement but Joe Hart was able to gather comfortably.

Beckford then turned provider just before the hour mark, playing Phil Jagielka in on the overlap but the defender's cut-back was behind all the blue jerseys in attendance and the ball was cleared. The crowd, having suffered through a tedious first half from the Everton perspective, were now firmly in the game by this point, spurred on by the commitment shown by the players as the temperature on the pitch began to rise amid a flurry of full-blooded challenges and testy exchanges between players.

Prior to the 65th minute, though, it felt like there was plenty of passion from the Blues but precious little to "hang" it on in terms of chances. But, when Tim Cahill came on for Rodwell and won a free kick wide on the right, Arteta whipped in a perfect cross that Distin rose to meet and power into the bottom corner via Hart's glove.

All of a sudden, City were on the rack and Everton pressed home their new-found superiority with a second goal in seven minutes. Neville clipped a teasing ball into the penalty area that Osman made all his own despite a significant height disadvantage against Kompany and his looping header drifted over Hart's despairing dive to nestle in the far corner to make it 2-1.

The diminutive midfielder's collision with Kompany left him prostrate on the turf amid all the celebrations of what really was a terrific goal and it took him a minute to shake off the grogginess before taking his position for the restart.

City had clearly had the stuffing knocked out of them, their confidence visibly shaken, and though they were desperate for the points, for the remainder of the match they were a shadow of the side that had bossed the first 45 minutes.

Milner did have Evertonian hearts in mouths with five minutes left when his shot from the edge of the area took a heavy deflection off Baines and looped over the bar but that was about the sum total of Mancini's men's efforts in the last 20-odd minutes and the Blues held on for a victory that more or less secures a minimum of a seventh-placed finish.

Player Ratings Howard 7, Hibbert 7 (Beckford 7) Jagielka 7, Distin 7, Baines 7, Rodwell 7 (Cahill 6), Neville 7, Arteta 7, Heitinga 7, Osman 7, Anichebe 7 (Coleman)

Reader Comments

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Lynn Thorne
1   Posted 09/05/2011 at 08:05:39

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My son pointed out that, after Ossie had treatment and was just sitting up, he punched the air with both arms. Probably the most delayed reaction after scoring... Wonder if he remembers it!

I love reading these match reports. I'm usually so caught up with the game, I can never remember all the details. It comes back over time. But these reports help. Thanks all of you who do them.

Dick Fearon
2   Posted 09/05/2011 at 11:14:37

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Good report, Lyndon, but I have to query why Cahill only got a six. Does that mean he would have got 24 if he was on from the start?

Silliness to one side, I think you greatly underestimated the value of Cahill's input toward the win. TV close-ups clearly showed Tim became the focus of City's defence and caused them to lose composure whenever he was anywhere near their goal.

TV observers often saw Kompany and Lescott swapping little arrogant grins as they dealt comfortably with our rare attacks. They were having panic attacks after Tim's introduction. It was noticeable that they also lost control of the midfield around the same time.

That may be the view of a long time Cahill admirer yet am I very far from the truth of the matter.

Michael Kenrick
3   Posted 09/05/2011 at 13:31:35

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Those player ratings do look amusing ? all 7s except poor Timmy (who was MotM then, Lyndon???)... although I'm not convinced Cahill was really worth more than a 6 as he, by his own admission, is only 80% fit.

But I can't believe you didn't give Coleman anything! He was worth at least an 8 in my eyes for really getting stuck in during those last crucial minutes when we could have lost 2 points, and of course for really needling them by the time the whistle went and the whinging twats went after him.
Anthony Hawkins
4   Posted 09/05/2011 at 14:31:21

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Cahill is a special player however it's difficult to say he consistantly deserves to be on from the start.

On the whole the team has worked better when Cahill has been sub and then come on. It means he can come on to either help the game to a conclusion in the event we have scored or come on and cause trouble to help the team get that vital goal and win the game.

He's a player to keep, that's for sure.
Steve Edwards
5   Posted 09/05/2011 at 14:41:07

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Let's be honest, Moyes was lucky to get out of jail here. He picked a disgracefully negative team and we should have been three down at half time. My head was down as soon as I saw the team sheet. Second half he gives us some attacking options and low and behold its suddenly a different game.

I'm not one of David Moyes greatest critics but what goes on in his head sometimes does leave him wide open to criticism.

I must mention that I've been sat on the fence with regard to Jack Rodwell. Well I'm off it now because I simply don't know what all the fuss is about. Yes, I know, he's still a young player but I can't see anything special about him.

Is he a better player than last year? No, he isn't. Maybe he'll never be a top midfield player. Maybe that will not turn out to be his best position. Maybe he has reached a plateau and will not progress any further. Who knows?

In the meantime if Man Utd come knocking for him and offer £20M, I'd take their hand off and run before they decide he is a dud. Compare Rodwell to Jack Wilshere. Wilshere has come on in leaps and bounds in the last twelve months and nobody is left in any doubt about what a top player he is NOW, never mind the future.

I notice it's all gone quiet on the Fellaini front. I'll be surprised if he is with us next year. Cash in and buy Charly Adam before the Shite get him...

Chris Bannantyne
6   Posted 09/05/2011 at 15:56:11

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I don't know that we will be 'buying' anyone in the offseason, but I do wonder how much the baggies want for that Odemwingie fella. He's got to be as good as any I've seen lately. Sturridge also.

Even if we flogged Rodwell or Fellaini for the numbers that are being thrown around, I doubt our lot would be prepared to cough up the amount needed to secure someone like Sturridge/Odemwingie.

I want to have a look at this Hallam Hope kid. I pray he can make it in the prem, AND we can keep him if he is a freak. We sure need a couple of freaky players!
Lyndon Lloyd
7   Posted 09/05/2011 at 18:18:09

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Sorry, couldn't pick a Man of the Match; Coleman suffered from the "was he on long enough to warrant a rating?" debate; and I must have overlooked Cahill's off-the-ball contributions but he didn't stand out for anything he really did *with* it.

It's all subjective anyway. Might have been a few 8s in there if they hadn't had been so lifeless in the first half.
Richard Farrington
8   Posted 09/05/2011 at 19:40:55

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Steve ? Charlie Adam? He is the most over-rated player in the league. He is no better than Arteta/Rodwell/Osman. Not for me.
Steve Edwards
9   Posted 09/05/2011 at 20:02:38

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Richard ? Got a feeling he will be playing in red and making you eat those words for a long time to come.
Richard Farrington
10   Posted 09/05/2011 at 20:34:59

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Time will tell we are not going to agree, personally I think he's shite.
Wes Coles
11   Posted 10/05/2011 at 04:41:43

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I am as curious as anyone to find out if Duncan Ferguson had an impact at half time during his visit to Goodision.

Got to admit in his flash suit he looked like a potential manager, and I know looking the part does not cut it, but you never know....

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