VIEW FROM THE BLUE
Everton booked comfortable passage to the FA Cup quarter finals thanks to a blistering start that had them two goals up on Blackpool inside seven minutes, an advantage they could easily have extended further before the Seasiders were gifted a highly dubious 90th-minute penalty that veteran striker Kevin Phillips ballooned over to seal their fate.
With Landon Donovan denied his second swansong by a bout of flu, Royston Drenthe started on the right flank and the Dutchman took full advantage of the American's absence by curling home a beauty after just 49 seconds. Denis Stracqualursi, meanwhile, was guaranteed another start by Nikica Jelavic's groin problem and he grabbed his third goal of the season from close range off Drenthe's corner to kill the Championship side's challenge before it had a chance to grow legs.
With Steven Pienaar cup-tied, Magaye Gueye made a rare start wide on the left and he was instrumental in both goals as Everton flew out of the proverbial traps in this Fifth Round encounter at Goodison Park. The French forward collected Leighton Baines' pass down the left before crossing low to Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian, playing in Tim Cahill's advanced role behind Stracqualursi, controlled the ball with his back to goal before laying it off to Drenthe and he despatched it past Michael Gilks with aplomb from the right side of the box with a sweet left-footer.
And the Blues doubled their lead on their next meaningful attack when Drenthe won a corner on the Everton right and whipped the ball in to the near post. Gueye's glancing flick-on dropped into the six yard box where Stracqualursi prodded it home at the second attempt.
Blackpool were stunned but recovered their composure enough to try a few forays down their left channel, getting in behind the home defence on a couple of occasions but finding John Heitinga and Sylvain Distin in uncompromising mood.
They really only had a couple of opportunities before half time. First, when Phillips fired a direct free kick into the wall after quarter of an hour and then in stoppage time when Tim Howard palmed Silverstre's low drive behind for a corner.
In between, the Blues carved out three chances to extend their lead. In the 39th minute, Drenthe skipped to the byline and served up the first of three greate chances for Fellaini but the Belgian was denied by Cathcart on the line and Darron Gibson's low drive was also blocked from the rebound.
Four minutes before the break, Gueye picked out Stracqualursi with an excellent cross but the Argentine powered his header a foot over before Fellaini glanced Tony HIbbert's centre from the other side wide of the upright.
Unsurprisingly, with a comfortable lead, Everton took their foot off the pedal a little in the second half but were still unlucky not to add to their tally. Stracqualursi served up what looked odds-on to be number three for Fellaini but he and Gibson got in each other's way and the former's weak shot bounced wide off a defender.
And just before the hour mark, the mercurial but dangerous Drenthe unleashed a stinging effort that Gilks did well to push over one-handed. Unfortunately, Heitinga sent a free header off the resulting corner over the bar with his second goal of the competition served on a platter.
The Dutch defender's foul at the other end after 65 minutes almost gave Blackpool an entry back into the tie, however, when his foul set up another direct free kick opportunity for Phillips. Thankfully, though, he smashed his shot off the top of the crossbar.
As the game ticked into the last 20 minutes and the tie still firmly in Everton's grasp and Seamus Coleman already having replaced Gueye, it seemed like a good opportunity to give some playing time to the likes of Apostolos Vellios and Ross Barkley. Both players had to wait until the closing stages to make their entries, however, and Stracqualursi almost repaid his manager with a second goal off Baines's free kick. Hooking the ball goalwards with an out-stretched leg at the far post he almost surprised Gilks but the 'keeper parried his effort at point-blank range.
Fellaini would be denied again in the 80th minute when, at the end of a lovely move, he found himself unmarked at the back post off Stracqualursi's well-placed header but, having beaten the 'keeper, his shot was booted off the goalline by a fortunate defender. And the Belgian wasted his final chance to earn a reward for his efforts when he planted a header off Drenthe's peach of a cross over when he really should got sufficiently over the ball to get it on target and despatch it past the 'keeper.
Blackpool's attempts at heroics came in the dying minutes, first when Howard denied Lua Lua with a superb finger-tip save that diverted the forward's impressive drive onto the outside of the post, and then when Bednar was inexplicably awarded a penalty for what referee Michael Oliver determined was a foul by Heitinga.
Any chance that the Tangerines had of staging a dramatic injury-time finish evaporated, however, when Phillips sent his spot kick over the crossbar without even forcing Howard to make a save.
So a fairly routine home victory that brings Everton to within a win of returning to Wembley, the scene of one of their most exciting moments of 2009 and also their biggest disappointment. That year a thrilling semi-final win on penalties over Manchester United put them into the Final where they wilted in the May heat and couldn't hold onto their early lead.
David Moyes will be hoping for another favourable draw in the last eight as he plots a return to the national stadium and an opportunity to make right on that crushing disappointment of three years ago.
Player Ratings: Howard 8, Hibbert 7, Heitinga 7, Distin 7, Baines 7, Neville 6, Gibson 7, Drenthe 8*, Gueye 7 (Coleman 7), Fellaini 8, Stracqualursi 8
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879 Posted 19/02/2012 at 08:05:07
I had Stracqualusi down as a 7 but other than that, Lyndon, I scored Identical marks to you.
Nice to see the high marks going to the attacking players for a change
881 Posted 19/02/2012 at 08:15:12
A big thank you to all our scribes for taking the trouble.
883 Posted 19/02/2012 at 08:20:32
I hope Moyes can learn from this, but history tells me that his love of a defensive midfielder will be frustrating me again once his favourites are fit again..
885 Posted 19/02/2012 at 08:40:48
887 Posted 19/02/2012 at 09:08:01
He should have kept Fellaini in his own position, left Neville out and put another forward thinking player behind The Count...
If he reverts to the team that struggled to score nil in the first half of the season, then we can forget a good end to the campaign.
889 Posted 19/02/2012 at 08:17:12
934 Posted 19/02/2012 at 12:05:31
959 Posted 19/02/2012 at 13:41:29
If 'Arry does not take the England job, I wonder if Moyes will mentioned for all these jobs as every pundit on TV says Moyes is a great manager... well, let's see, eh... as the crap I have seen since August and last season has put me off going although I still am.
963 Posted 19/02/2012 at 14:11:44
013 Posted 19/02/2012 at 17:36:19
083 Posted 19/02/2012 at 21:09:26
211 Posted 20/02/2012 at 13:12:56
Try tvembedeu next time seems to work every time.
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