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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
FA Cup
Sunday 16 February 2014; 1:30pm
Everton 
3 1
 SWANSEA
 Traore (4'), Naismith (65')
 Baines (pen: 72')
Half Time: 1-1
De Guzman (15') 
Attendance: 31,498
Round 5
Referee: Kevin Friend

Match Report

The scoreline may have been slightly flattering but Everton advanced to the FA Cup Sixth Round with a 3-1 victory over Swansea City and a date with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium next month.

Lacina Traore made a goalscoring debut for the Blues, taking less than four minutes to make his mark, but it was his replacement, Steven Naismith who ended up being pivotal, taking full advantage of an ill-advised back-pass by Neil Taylor to restore the lead after 64 minutes and then earning the penalty from which Leighton Baines sealed the win.

Roberto Martinez's side are through but it was on the back of a strange performance that never really got going despite occasional moments of brilliance. Indeed, the tie was very evenly balanced after an hour had elapsed, with Everton struggling to consistently impose themselves on the visitors, but they gratefully accepted Taylor's gift and then one from Ashley Richards's foul on Naismith to establish the momentum they needed.

It was credit to Swansea's threat on the counter and some sloppy distribution in their own half from Everton that the Blues were unable to relax and settle into the dominant passing game that they like to employ these days. They had been given a scare inside two minutes when Pablo Hernandez released Alvaro Vazquez into the clear with worrying ease but the striker allowed himself to be forced too wide by Joel Robles, leaving Roland Lamah too much to do from the angle and the 'keeper saved.

The platform from which Martinez's men should have been able to take commanding control was formed just two minutes later, though, when Ross Barkley was fouled by Wayne Routledge wide on the Everton left and Baines swept a free kick into the heart of the Swans' area. Sylvain Distin got a head to it, was able to collect a fortunate rebound off a defender and then seemed destined to lash the ball home from eight yards out. Instead, with the ball just a little to far ahead of him to make proper contact, he prodded it towards Traore who swung back one his long legs to heel it home via the defender on the line.

Barkley then went on the first of two trademark surging runs but dragged his shot wide, as he would do later in the half, and Kevin Mirallas ended an equally impressive run into the box by overrunning the ball at the crucial moment as Everton looked for a second.

Instead, though, they were pegged back by Swansea in the 15th minute when Taylor, enjoying some of the uncharaterstically large pockets of space that were opening up around the Blues' back four, was allowed to chip a cross to the edge of the six-yard box. It was too high for Distin and Jonathan de Guzman arrived in front of Baines at the perfect moment to head past the stranded Robles to level the tie.

Despite not being fully in their rhythm, Everton remained the more dangerous of the two sides in the final third, though, and a brilliant move in the 23rd minute so nearly provided them a second goal. Steven Pienaar's delicious flick down the line was ideal for Baines on the overlap and when he timed the return ball into the box to meet the South African's run, Pienaar's deft first-time shot looked destined to arc majestically into the far corner but bounced off the woodwork instead.

Three minutes later, Everton counter-attacked down the right and Coleman's low cross found Mirallas but he swept his shot wide when he really should have worked Gerhard Tremmel in the Swansea goal. The Belgian would force a save from the 'keeper seven minutes before the break when he was fouled in the "D" outside the area but he despatched his direct free kick to the side of the goal where Tremmel was stationed and it was a fairly routine parry to push the ball away to safety from Swansea's point of view.

For the first quarter of an hour after half-time, Everton seemed to be searching for some inspiration as they found chances few and far between. Barkley tested Tremmel with a low shot that he gathered at the second attempt but there was a growing unease among the home fans, particularly as Swansea's pressing of the back line when the Blues' defence had the ball, was prompting frequent errors and rushed clearances. That, combined with Robles's curious refusal to control a number of back-passes that came his way before slicing them awkwardly in all manner of directions, didn't help foster much confidence that Everton were the better side destined to sweep into the next round.

Martinez's changes on the hour mark proved to be the difference. He withdrew Traore, who hadn't offered much since his goal, in favour of Naismith and replaced Barkley with Leon Osman but it was a combination of players who had started the game that carved out a great chance to retake the lead just four minutes later. Coleman ended a great move with another accurate cross from the right that picked out Pienaar at the back post but he could only steer a header wide.

A minute after that, though, Naismith pounced. Anticipating a poor attempted back-pass from Taylor near the touchline, the Scot intercepted the ball intended for Tremmel and slid it under the advancing 'keeper before wheeling away in celebration as it crossed the line of the empty goal. It proved to be a pivotal moment in the contest.

Mirallas passed up a great chance for a third when he ballooned Coleman's cross over the bar but when Naismith seized on more indecision in Swansea's defence and latched into a loose ball, he was felled in the box has he toed it past Richards. Referee Kevin Friend pointed to the spot and Baines made no mistake from the resulting penalty.

There was time for a late but largely unproductive cameo for Gerard Deulofeu, who was provided some more playing time in his quest for match sharpness, and the Blues played the last couple of minutes plus stoppage time with 10 men after Naismith was forced off with a suspected concussion after colliding with Jordi Amat's shoulder but the result was now beyond doubt.

Far from vintage but the result was all-important and the Blues progress to the tie of the Sixth Round against the Gunners on the weekend of 9 March. While it's true that you have to beat the best to lift the trophy, Martinez will surely have been hoping for a home draw at least but he showed plenty of ability in last season's FA Cup to plot the downfall of supposedly superior opposition and will take his charges to London with confidence.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Summary

A beautiful sunny day at Goodison Park a complete contrast to the horrendous weather conditions that caused the postponement of Wednesday's league game against Crystal Palace. That gave more time for some of Everton's injured players to recover a little more, with both Lacina Traore and Ross Barkley named in a strong starting line-up by Roberto Martinez.

Traore started with Barkley behind him and scored with a cute backheeled flick deflected home inside four minutes to set Everton on their way, after a nervy beginning to the game that saw Swansea almost score on a mistake by Coleman. And apart from the early goal, it was helter-skelter stuff with Everton struggling to settle against a weak but enthusiastic Swansea side.

Barkley had a good touch but drove his shot wide, then Mirallas got a chance to run at the Swansea defence but his touch let him down and he could not shoot. They started to play some better passing, Traore showing some good ball skills but Mirallas overhit his forward pass.

However, sloppy play at the back, with Pienaar gifting a silly corner, led to more attacking play by Swansea that allowed De Guzman to run in and power home a header that gave Robles no chance to save the first goal conceded by Everton in the competition this season.

After some poor midfield play, Everton suddenly burst forward down the left with a great flicked throughball from Pienaar that Baines crossed in early and Pienaar clipped beyond Tremmel onto the face of the far post, and back to Traore who tried to power a header that was well saved.

Gary Monk was forced to consider changing out Bartley who got hamstring damage early on tackling Traore, but the Swansea player stayed on until another heavy contact going in on Traore. Williams then replaced him.

The home supporters were not particularly impressed with some of the lazy and frustrating football that was allowing Swansea to play with more confidence, especially as Everton defenders got caught trying to pass the ball out of defence. But a direct ball up to Traore drew a foul on Mirallas and a free-kick in the D that Baines and Mirallas deliberated over... Mirallas curled to around the wall but chose the side Tremmel was covering.

A poor stub of the toe by Baines in attack gave the ball away and Swansea surged into acres of space, Vazquez lashing a tasty shot for Robles to parry. Barkley then saw some space but drove his left-foot shot wide of Tremmel's post. Coleman was then body-checked by Taylor, the kick fired in close to Tremmel at the near post as an ultimately disappointing first half drew to a close.

The early second-half play did not suggest Everton's sloppiness and lack of control was going to improve as the game at times was shockingly poor, with the Jagielka hoof-ball returning to Everton's repertoire. Mirallas did cut inside and feed Barkley who fired in a good low shot. Symptomatic of Everton's plight, some great play into the opposition area by Coleman ended with one too many step-overs that was gifted to a Swansea defender.

Everton finally won a corner, played short that Barkley looked to flick across the area but it was intercepted and Swansea were off up the field again. Martinez decided to change things a little, Naismith and Osman replacing Traore and Barkley, neither of whom had played particularly well in a disturbingly poor second half.

But Swansea continued to make things difficult for the home side, not exactly parking the bus but denying Everton space and time, snapping at heels and closing down with lively enthusiasm that at times put to shame Everton's more lethargic and uninspiringly laboured stuff. There was some better play with Coleman overlapping, the cross perfectly set up for Pienaar who headed it wide when it seemed easier to score.

However, with nothing really happening, Naismith anticipated a terrible backpass by Taylor and stroked the ball home through Tremmel with his first touch, to rescue the Blues' potential embarrassment.

Some better play saw Coleman pull back a superb ball for Mirallas in plenty of space to balloon it horribly way over the bar, a glorious open goal an absolutely shocking miss that summed up the paucity of Everton's play.

There was another gift for Everton as Naismith got in front of Richards and drew a foul, clear penalty, that Baines lashed ferociously into the bottom corner of the Gwladys Street net to finally assuage the frustrations of the home crowd.

With an opportunity to finally "be themselves", Everton tried to pass their way through Swansea with some slick passing that went nowhere. A stupid challenge by Lita on McCarthy led to some unnecessary handbags in the centre-circle, and bookings for two of the visiting protagonists. Naismith was smacked in the face by Amat and needed a few minutes to recover, as Deulofeu came on for Mirallas to play out the final minutes.

Naismith was still suffering from concussion and finally left the field, leaving Everton down to 10 men for the final minute of the regulation 90, and 4 minutes of added time, providing Swansea a late impetus, with Robles doing his best to give up a goal. The final whistle came and Everton had stumbled through somewhat unconvincingly to the last eight of the venerable old competition.

Michael Kenrick

 

Match Preview

With the unexpected benefit of a full week's rest, thanks to the postponement on Wednesday of the Premier League clash with Crystal Palace due to dangerously high winds, Everton take on Swansea City this Sunday in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.

When it comes to each round's draw, the least you can hope for is a home draw and the Blues were duly handed their second tie at Goodison Park of this year's competition and though they were paired with top-flight opposition, it was at least a team over which they have had the Indian sign for a very long time now.

Not that that should matter much in the heat of a do-or-die cup tie, but Everton, knowing that they are just two wins from a day at Wembley, will take all the omens and weight of history they can get. Swansea have never beaten the Blues and the only time the two clubs have met in the FA Cup was 60 years when Everton won 3-0.

This match-up against Roberto Martinez's former club would have been a meeting between the managers who steered their respective teams to the domestic cup triumphs last season had Michael Laudrup not recently been forced out of the Swansea hotseat. Instead, Martinez goes up against Gary Monk, someone he knows very well from his days in South Wales.

Monk is unbeaten in charge of the Swans so far, having overseen a handsome derby victory over Cardiff City in his first match and the midweek draw at Stoke City but this will be his biggest test so far. He could be boosted by the return to fitness of Michu, though, after a long lay-off. The Spanish forward has been out of action since December so is lacking match fitness but he is in the frame to play.

For Martinez, he will no doubt have welcomed the extra few days's training for the likes of Lacina Traore and Gerard Deulofeu, two players whom he sees has being crucial to both the FA Cup run and the run-in to the League season. Traore was tipped to make his debut in some form against Palace in midweek had that gae gone ahead and with Romelu Lukaku still a week or so away from fitness, the Ivorian could get the nod to start if his manager deems him fit enough.

Deulofeu is in a similar position and in need of playing time but his hamstring injury was more severe than Traore's and he might need to be eased back into action more gradually. Furthermore, the experience of Ross Barkley, who Martinez admits he may have rushed back to quickly from a foot fracuture, offers a cautionary tale for the manager to ponder as he draws up his starting XI.

With victory guaranteeing a quarter-final berth, there is a lot riding on this game and Martinez has acknowledged as much, making it more likely that he will field a strong side. Should Traore not make the starting line-up, it's conceivable that Martinez will go with a similar team to the one he woudld have played against Palace, although perhaps, given the stakes, with Kevin Mirallas in the side at the expense of Aiden McGeady.

 

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Match Preview
Match Summary
Match Report
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2013-14 Reports Index
< Tottenham (A) Chelsea (A) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Robles
  Coleman
  Jagielka
  Distin
  Baines
  Barry
  McCarthy
  Pienaar
  Barkley (Osman 61')
  Mirallas (Deulofeu 87')
  Traore (Naismith 61')
  Subs not used
  Hibbert
  McGeady
  Howard
  Stones
  Unavailable
  GIbson (injured)
  Kone (injured)
  Lukaku (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Duffy (loan)
  Kennedy (loan)
  Junior (loan)
  Lundtstram (loan)
SWANSEA (4-4-2)
  Tremmel
  Richards
  Canas
  Bartley (Williams 31')
  Taylor
  Amat
  Hernandez
  De Guzman
  Routledge (Dyer 45')
  Lamah (Lita 69' )
  Alvaro
  Subs not used
  Vorm
  Britton
  Bony
  Tiendalli

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