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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 26 February 2011; 3:00pm
2 0
 Beckford (8', 39')
Half Time: 2-0
Attendance: 37,776
Fixture 27
Referee: Stuart Attwell

Match Summary

Louis Saha was declared fit enough to start along with Jermaine Beckford upfront in what appeared to be a potentially attacking formation, even with the inclusion of Osman who gets the call ahead of Bilyaletdinov. Cahill and Rodwell started on the bench as they were probably not fully fit. Jagielka was favoured over Heitinga, who was annoyed to have been benched for the Cup replay at Chelsea last week.

It was scrappy stuff in the bright sunshine for the first few minutes, although Gyan did try to beat Everton's offside trap. Richardson did beat the trap and had a one-on-one with Howard but screwed his shot across goal and well wide. Finally a better Everton move won the first corner, taken by Arteta that was short to Neville, his cross was poor, put back in by Saha but beyond Fellaini.

Beckford got into space with the ball at his feet from an excellent set-up by Osman and his deft shot beat the keeper and bounced off Bramble's shin, just inside the Sunderland goal. Nice start!

Sunderland looked to respond and Howard did well to deal with their attacks. A bobbling ball sat up for Beckford again but his control and technique was sadly League 2 level and the chance was gone. But Beckford's movement was keeping Sunderland fully occupied, and he looked to get forward past Mensah but could not get away from Ferdinand.

Mensah came in far too hard on Saha and got a strong word from the ref. Saha looked to break into the Sunderland area but his second touch was poor and he lost the ball. A long ball from Sunderland ended up with a fierce shot by Sessegnon that Tim Howard was alert to and just got enough on it to deflect it onto the underside of the bar and it bounced down in front of the line, a tremendous escape for the Blues.

Everton had to defend on the half-hour and eventually gave away a dangerous free-kick that took an age to execute that was set square to Bardsley and was well blocked, allowing Everton to break but Saha slipped at the crucial moment when in space on the right and another attack ended lamely.

Another attack looked to be well constructed with Saha advancing and well supported but a sloppy pass from Arteta caught Osman's heel and the whole thing collapsed again. Fellaini fell heavily, perhaps turning his ankle and looked to be replaced but the magic spray produced a rapid recovery.

Everton were struggling to complete attacking moves but did a lot better on a long clearance from Jagielka where Arteta left Ferdinand for dead and scampered forward, a stepover to fool Mensah, then cutting the ball back from the byeline for Beckford to scuff his shot off a defender again but it had enough momentum to bobble just inside the other post for a second Everton goal.

Fellaini could not carry on, and Rodwell came on in his place. Saha appeared to get into space but his shot hit a defender as half-time approached. He was in a good mood and had another long run at the Sunderland defence but drove his shot wide.

After the break, Osman got the ball to Beckford who rather lashed his shot off-balance, over the bar. Arteta then challenged and disposseessd a Sunderland player in the centre-circle to gain possession when did he last do that? Saha then produced a nice flick-on from a Neville throw-in that set up nicely for Osman to score but instead he put it wide.

Coleman made a good run and fed a great ball to Beckford who was scythed down in the area, but he had strayed fractionally offside. No penalty. Rodwell had a good run through the middle but Osman's cross was poor.

On the hour, no more subs, but a lively attack started by Osman again feeding Beckford well, but shots form Saha and Coleman were saved by Mignolet. Rodwell got a good run in down the left and won a corner from Baines that was punched away. Bardsley then came through Saha and gave Everton a good free-kick opportunity but Arteta drove it low and hard, denying Baines the chance repeat his Chelsea party trick.

Beckford was tiring and went off to a good shout from the Goodison crowd after 73 mins, replaced by Tim Cahill. Osman got another chance for glory but screwed another first-time volley well wide. Coleman tried to score with a fearsome cross that forced a good save from Mignolet.

Baines had a good run but his cross/shot was too deep. Saha went off with 8 mins left, Bilyaletdinov replacing him. The best move of the game deserved a goal after interchange from Osman, Baines and Cahill set Bily up but he too volleyed wide.

Osman, who was to be proclaimed Man of the Match, again was in the thick of it, getting into a great position to score, going wide around the keeper .... but failing yet again as his path to goal was now blocked by two defenders. He will get plaudits for his link-up play, which did set up the first goal, but really he should have delivered far more.

But it was a good solid result for the Blues, and a much-needed home win, a much-needed three points, a much-needed clean sheet, and some much-needed goals from Jermaine Beckford.

Michael Kenrick


Match Report

Everton followed up their penalty shootout triumph at Stamford Bridge with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Sunderland at Goodison Park that moves them into the top half of the table for the time being thanks to two goals by Jermaine Beckford. The Blues' number 16 again reveled in his strike partnership with Louis Saha and had put the home side firmly in the driving seat before he was forced out of the game after 71 minutes through injury.

Given Steve Bruce's activity in the transfer market over the last nine months and the fact that the Black Cats started the day in seventh place in the Premier League, this fixture appeared trickier on paper than it eventually proved to be. Sunderland were mostly abysmal and with the exception of a couple of moments where they genuinely threatened Tim Howard's goal, they lacked drive, imagination and desire, leaving Everton to get on with the task of winning the game in fairly routine fashion.

At the heart of the victory were standout performances by Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta, the pair running the show from start to finish and playing significant roles in the goals that were finished in predatory fashion by Beckford. Indeed, Osman should have capped his man-of-the-match display with at least one goal but sloppy finishing in the second half denied him the icing on the cake.

With Tim Cahill's fitness still a concern, David Moyes left the Australian on the bench and opted for the more enterprising two-striker line-up in an otherwise unchanged line-up from the one that started at Chelsea last weekend.

And though Kieran Richardson had the first real chance of the game when he sprung the offside trap after four minutes, an opportunity he spurned with an awful shot across Howard's six-yard box, it was Everton who took an early lead with a lovely goal in the eighth minute. Osman brought the ball down a few yards outside the area and, spotting the striker's run he played Beckford in perfectly and he took one touch before clipping the ball home via the knee of Titus Bramble.

The visitors's response was slow in coming but they might have altered the course of the game in the 27th minute when their new signing Stephane Sessegnon, a player linked with a move to Goodison for months before he made the switch to the Stadium of Light, unloaded a terrific shot from 20-odd yards that Howard pushed onto the crossbar with a fingertip save.

That incident aside, Everton continued to look the more likely team to add to the scoreline but they were again stuggling for the most part to put things together in the final third. That changed seven minutes before half-time, though, when Arteta, who put in an excellent shift as the anchor and distributor in midfield all game, went on a terrific run to the byline where he cut the ball back to Beckford who scuffed it into the far corner to double the Blues' advantage.

After Saha's own solo run ended with him screwing a shot wide from the edge of the area, the Blues went into half with a solid 2-0 lead, one marred only by the departure from the fray of Marouane Fellaini with an ankle injury three minutes before the break. Jack Rodwell stepped into the breach offering a seamless change to the Everton midfield for the second half.

Starting the second period in much the same vein as they'd conducted the first, Moyes's side threatened to turn add to their tally almost immediately after the restart. First Beckford latched onto Osman's pass but lashed a left-footed narrowly over the bar, then Osman found himself on the end of Saha's perfect flick-on from a throw-in but the midfielder steered his half-volley disappointingly wide.

Just past the hour mark, Simon Mignolet was called into emergency action in the Sunderland goal with a double save to first deny Saha and then Coleman's shot from the rebound, but the Belgian would have had no chance with 16 minutes to go had Osman not fluffed his lines with all the time in the world to pick his spot from a poor defensive header. Instead of finding the target, though, he sliced wide of goal.

With Sunderland barely creating anything from a spell of increased pressure as the game moved into the final ten minutes, Moyes withdrew Saha as a precautionary measure, moved Cahill up top and added Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and the Russian almost finished a wonderful show-boating move with four minutes of the regulation 90 remaining. Osman dinked the ball forward for Baines, his first-time, side-foot pass found Cahill but with everyone expecting the Australian to shoot, he knocked it back to Bilyaletdinov but his volley sliced off the outside of his boot and flew wide.

Osman kept hunting for the goal that his performance deserved but found Mignolet's arms with a powder-puff shot in the 89th minute before saving his best moment for the third minute of injury time. Played in neatly by Arteta, Osman calmly danced around the 'keeper, turned back inside and fired left-footed but he was denied on the line by John Mensah who headed his shot away. Having been so unselfish a few minutes earlier, Cahill was visibly annoyed that he was ignored even though he was better placed to score but Osman clearly wanted to score his first Premier League goal of the season.

Ultimately, this was a workmanlike display by Everton that got the job done against a poor Sunderland team that didn't seem to have much appetite to make a fight of it. Where Moyes's boys have failed to put teams away in circumstances like this earlier in the campaign though, this time they delivered the goods thanks to the striking instincts of Beckford and key interventions by Osman and Arteta.

The win, one that extends into March an unbeaten run at Goodison that dates back to the beginning of December, keeps the momentum going for Moyes as he prepares for the FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Reading on Tuesday and the trip to Newcastle next weekend.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

False dawn — the latest in a string of them — or springboard? Evertonians will get their first sense of Everton's prospects in the wake of that dramatic FA Cup Fourth Round replay victory via the penalty spot at Stamford Bridge last weekend when the Blues return to Premier League action against Sunderland.

From the stunning comeback to draw 3-3 with Manchester United to the stirring wins over Tottenham and Blackpool since the turn of the year, there have been platforms from which David Moyes and his men could build some momentum and rescue a season that has gone from soaring promise and expectation to the of possibility disaster and despair over the course of the campaign thus far.

The nadir — we fervently hope — was reached at the Reebok Stadium with an unforgiveably poor performance against Bolton two weeks ago and with the League season entering it's last third, now is the time for the team to pull together as a tight-knit unit and pull out the results that will, as a first priority, keep the club in the top flight but also keep hope alive of sneaking into the European qualification places.

Although it does not yet guaratee a Europa League spot, 6th place is a manageable nine points away going into Saturday's fixtures and with the division as unpredictable as it has been this season, any team that can put a run of results together can make a dramatic move into those coveted European places.

Spirit and determination, qualities wholly absent at Bolton but demonstrated in spades in extra time and then during penalties against Chelsea, will surely be enough to stave off relegation this term but the Blues will also need some fortune where injuries are concerned if they are to make a late surge up the ladder.

Most important will be the fitness of Louis Saha who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury but who is expected to be fit to face the Black Cats. With Yakubu and James Vaughan out on loan, the manager has just three strikers from which to choose but the verdict has surely now been delivered on Jermaine Beckford's ability to operate as the lone striker and Victor Anichebe is neither talented nor robust nor disciplined enough to take the job on, leaving Moyes bereft of options when Saha is out.

The Frenchman had hit a rich vein of goalscoring form after starting alongside Beckford against Spurs last month and notched four goals against Blackpool before succumbing to injury and Everton will need him to be sharp again against Sunderland.

Steve Bruce's side, strengthened by some key acqusitions over the last two transfer windows, will be a difficult nut to crack. Currently lying in seventh, they hit perhaps their highest point of the season thus far at Stamford Bridge with a seemingly impossible 3-0 victory over Chelsea; they've managed two more wins on the road since then, albeit against bottom-half teams.

Since losing Darren Bent to Aston Villa, Asamoah Gyan and Kieron Richardson have been weighing in with the bulk of the goals and they'll be the key concerns for Sylvain Distin and whichever of Phil Jagielka and Johnny Heitinga Moyes opts for in his starting line-up. His propensity to stick with a starting XI means that Jagielka will probably get the nod — no doubt unsettling further Mr Heitinga who admitted to being angered by losing his place last weekend — and, with Tim Cahill looking likely to pass a fitness test, it could well be an unchanged team, with the obvious exception being Saha coming in for Beckford.

Defeat for Blackburn and Blackpool would mean that the Blues could leap temporarily into 10th place with victory over Sunderland and that would certainly provide a feeling that the team is moving in the right direction again ahead of the FA Cup Fifth Round tie with Reading next week.

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Match Report
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2010-11 Reports Index
< Chelsea (A) Reading (H) >
EVERTON (4-4-2)
  Fellaini (41' Rodwell)
  Beckford (73' Cahill)
  Saha (83' Bilyaletdinov)
  Subs not used
  Barclay (injured)
  Agard (loan)
  Silva (loan)
  Turner (loan)
  Vaughan (loan)
  Wallace (loan)
  Yakubu (loan)
  Yobo (loan)
  Ferdinand (68' Noble)
  Muntari (78' Malbranque)
  Subs not used

Premier League Scores
West Brom 1-1 Wolves
Blackpool 3-1 Tottenham
Arsenal 1-0 Stoke
Aston Villa 4-1 Blackburn
Everton 2-0 Sunderland
Newcastle 1-1 Bolton
Wigan 0-4 Man United
Wolves 4-0 Blackpool
Man City 1-1 Fulham
West Ham 3-1 Liverpool
Stoke City 1-1 West Brom

Team Pts
1 Manchester United 60
2 Arsenal 56
3 Manchester City 50
4 Tottenham Hotspur 47
5 Chelsea 45
6 Liverpool 39
7 Bolton Wanderers 37
8 Sunderland 37
9 Newcastle United 36
10 Everton 33
11 Stoke City 33
12 Aston Villa 33
13 Fulham 32
14 Blackburn Rovers 32
15 Blackpool 32
16 Birmingham City 30
17 Wolverhampton Wanderers 28
18 West Ham United 28
19 West Bromwich Albion 28
20 Wigan Athletic 27

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