Everton began the game with lots of early possession as they looked to press from the off. The first real sight of goal was for the visitors, Tchoyi fired over when well placed inside the area. Stracqualursi had an effort at the other end which Barkley inadvertently blocked. Mucha almost gifted the visitors the lead, allowing a back pass to roll under his foot with 15 minutes gone.
Whilst the home side were enjoying a lot of the ball, there was very little in terms of movement and players looking to create chances. Tchoyi spurned another chance for the visitors as Jagielka's tackle took the ball away from Heitinga and through to Tchoyi. His finishing was again wayward and the shot went wide. Drenthe then fired a free kick harmlessly over after a foul on Barkley.
With 25 minutes on the clock, Barkley nearly gifted West Brom the lead with an errant pass. His pass towards Heitinga ended up with Odemwingie in on goal but his shot was wide of the right-hand post. Everton's next real opening saw Fellaini glance a header past the far post from a Baines corner. With 30 minutes of the game gone, the stats were ominous; Everton had 71% of the possession and all the territory yet they had failed to make use of it.
As half-time approached, Drenthe came into the game more. Rodwell fired well wide from his left-wing cross and then a cross-shot of his own brought a corner. That was the end of the first half and, for all Everton's possession, the visitors looked more of a threat on their sporadic forays forward.
After the restart, Coleman drew a save out of Fulop and Stracqualursi tested him from a Fellaini knockdown. In the 55th minute, Coleman gave the ball away to Tchoyi, who sprang forward and played a ball to Odemwingie in behind. The striker advanced towards goal and went tumbling over the onrushing Mucha. The referee awarded a penalty to West Brom though it seemed soft. Brunt sent Mucha the wrong way and West Brom were ahead.
Tchoyi had another attempt with 30 minutes remaining with Neville getting the block in. Everton had run out of ideas so Moyes made a double change, bringing on Cahill and Vellios for Barkley and Stracqualursi. Barkley looked out-of-place in the role behind the striker, often crowded out and having little impact. He has bags of potential but also a lot still to learn. Stracqualursi did some good, some bad and some strange. He needs to get used to the hustle and bustle of the English game and adapt fast.
Dorrans fired an effort over from distance as West Brom looked to increase their lead. Gueye came on for Coleman, who faded after a bright start. Vellios glanced wide, Fellaini had a header saved and Baines hit a free kick into the wall as Everton pressed for an equaliser. Fellaini swapped with Cahill as Everton looked to try something different and it worked as Fellaini netted the equaliser with 2 minutes left.
Vellios headed Heitinga's ball forward into Fellaini's path and the big Belgian fired into the bottom corner, on the turn, from the edge of the area. Both sides pressed for a winner in injury time; Odemwingie fired over, Drenthe had a shot blocked and Rodwell headed a Neville cross just wide. Extra time was next, with Tchoyi wasting another chance. The Cameroonian evaded Jagielka and Mucha, only to blaze his attempt over the bar.
Everton took the lead from a very unlikely source; Phil Neville's left foot. Drenthe laid the ball back to Neville after good work down the right-hand side. The Everton captain curled the ball first time, into the far corner out of Fulop's reach. The goal settled the home side slightly as Rodwell fired over from a corner and Gueye had an effort deflected wide. Scharner nearly got his customary goal against Everton as Mucha saved at his near post but West Brom couldn't find an equaliser. The final whistle went and most of the 17,647 in attendance cheered Everton's passage into the last 16.
Jagielka and Fellaini were the two stand-out performers. Jagielka, defensively, had one of his best games in a while and Fellaini was effective in both midfield and attack. Drenthe joins Bilyaletdinov in being a left-footed midfielder who doesn't play very well on the left. The Dutch winger was much more of a threat when moved over to the right of midfield. Neville was a bit shaky at right back; hopefully the goal will help his confidence. Gueye grew into the game after his introduction and Cahill and Vellios both contributed.
Everton weren't at their best and the lack of movement and penetration in the final third is a continuing worry. The positive for Moyes will be that the team is getting results without playing well. The players still need to want the ball more and be willing to take a chance and try to make things happen. Osman was sorely missed tonight; he is one of the few willing to do that.
Man City on Saturday lunchtime will give a better yardstick of where Everton are at. Their impressive recent record against City may count in their favour. As the song goes, "We're on the march with Moyes's army...?. On tonight's evidence, it's more of a crawl.
Mucha 6, Neville 6, Heitinga 6, Jagielka 8, Baines 6, Coleman 5, Rodwell 6, Fellaini 7, Drenthe 6, Barkley 5, Stracqualursi 5.
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1 Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:46:39
2 Posted 22/09/2011 at 16:46:54
Two recent fixtures that seemed to be heading towards a dour outcome were salvaged late on and progress has been mad. WBA are no pushovers and clearly hadn't intended on arriving on Merseyside just to make up the numbers, I expected them to make a game of it and also for Everton to progress on the night and so it proved.
And Yes, hardly a march, but moving in the right direction in any event.
3 Posted 22/09/2011 at 20:24:32
4 Posted 22/09/2011 at 22:05:30
Look how City have strengthened and look how we have weakened.
5 Posted 23/09/2011 at 03:58:39
6 Posted 23/09/2011 at 09:00:42
Citteh on the other hand......we're doomed I tells yer.....or maybe not.
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