Everton's first game of their 2010 Pre-Season Tour Down Under was against Sydney FC in front of an incredible crowd of over 40,000 inside the ANZ Stadium. David Moyes selected a reasonably strong side from the players available, minus those recuperating after (or, in the case of Johnny Heitinga, still playing in) the World Cup in South Africa.
Everton wore their new flouresecnt pink away strip, with 20-year-old new signing Maguye Gueye putting in a confident performance. With six minutes gone, James Vaughan was slipped in by Leon Osman, and the striker hit a crisp effort which Sydney keeper Ivan Necevski saved at the second attempt. Soon Everton settled into their stride, and started to dominate possession and display the better passing. Leighton Baines dropped his shoulder, cut inside and fired an effort straight at Necevski. Then moments later Jack Rodwell popped up on the right and dazzled left-back Shannon Cole, before curling an effort narrowly over.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will not recall being tackled by 38-year-old Dwight Yorke fondly, the ex-Manchester United man present on his old stomping ground. Yorke played only one season with Sydney in the A-League but proved immensely popular here, and his cameo undoubtedly helped promote the game. With Yorke using the ball intelligently from a deep midfield role, Sydney were holding their own and useful opposition.
Socceroo Alex Brosque fired a vicious effort at Turner from 10 yards after nice build-up play. Then Baines found Anichebe with a pin-point pass and the big Nigerian held his marker off and spun around to almost open the scoring.
The second half started with a couple of changes:. Tim Cahill replaced Jack Rodwell, getting a rousing welcome form his hom,etown crowd, and Maguye Gueye replaced James Vaughan. Within 46, seconds the impressive Anichebe produced a terrific turn in the box, and blasted the ball high into the net.
Everton soon began to hog the ball again, but as in the previous 45 Sydney showed what they are capable of on the break, when Gan fired a cross into the box and Brosque narrowly headed wide. Frenchman Gueye was distinctly promising. A live-wire who offered pace in attack, showed a neat touch and proved he has listened to his team-mates instructions to track back.
Dwight Yorke’s celebrity turn lasted 61 minutes, before Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka replaced him. It was a good value cameo too, full of clever passing and cross-field balls which proved why he was able to finish his career in the premier league with Sunderland. But as one star with his career behind him exited, a young man at the opposite end of the scale entered.
Terry Antonis is the 16-year-old most highly rated prospect in Australian football, and has recently signed a three-year deal with Sydney. The teenager who Tim Cahill described as “like a brother” has trained at Everton’s Finch Farm complex, and was believed to have been tracked by Inter Milan. Aussie youngsters are unable to sign for sides outside of their homeland until the age of 18, so Antonis pledged his future to his home-town club last week.
But with the second half settling into a lazier tempo as the minutes passed, Mikel Arteta showed his first flash of brilliance, turning and thrasing a wonderful shot which Neceveski parried.
Sydney responded with some sustained pressure, and had a plausible penalty claim denied when Jagielka upended Brosque in the area. Moyes gave Louis Saha a chance to stretch his legs later along with Jose Baxter, the later showing some clever touches and movement.
But Sydney could have levelled again when left-back Petratos found himself through on goal but got the ball trapped between his feet.
The final whistle prompted Cahill to swop shirts with Antonis, and both sides to receive an ovation from the lively crowd.
Moyes will be pleased to have started his pre-season with a win, but even happier at the sharpness of young forwards Anichebe and Gueye.
The week of training in Sydney has clearly already helped the Blues get back into shape, and now they move on to Melbourne for their second game of the tour against new A-league side Melbourne Heart.
|2010-11 Reports Index|
|When Skies Are Grey||Report|
|Everton fans' reports|
|Other media reports|
|4 the Game||Report|
|Yorke (62' Moriyasu)|
|Jamieson (86' Petratos)|
|Gan (67' Antonis)|
|Bridge (83' Powell)|
|Subs not used|