Lukaku Stands Tall As Everton Turn Tables On Dynamo Kyiv

The Europa League decor went up at Goodison Park and Everton re-emerged from the hole they've been digging for themselves in the Premier League to win in Europe again.

Lyndon Lloyd 13/03/2015 44comments  |  Jump to last
(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Europa League decor went up at Goodison Park and Everton re-emerged from the hole they've been digging for themselves in the Premier League to win in Europe again. It took another stirring recovery from the concession of an early goal, a late penalty for handball and the eventual backing from the stands at Goodison Park the Grand Old Lady morphed from a pit of angst to a bearpit in the second half but the Blues will take a vital lead to Kyiv next week.

They would, of course, have preferred to have kept a clean sheet and removed away goals from Dynamo's side of the equation, but they will travel with the knowledge that one goal of their own in Kyiv's Olympic Stadium next week would significantly enhance Everton's chances of making the quarter finals of a European competition for the first time in 30 years.

Should they do so, it will largely be down to Romelu Lukaku. The size of the Belgian's price tag means that he has borne the bulk of the expectation and criticism for the team's struggles in the Premier League this season but his seven goals in as many Europa League games has already elevated him to the status of Everton's all-time leading goalscorer in Europe. Tonight, it was his sheer will and determination that set up the equaliser for Steven Naismith and his composure from the spot that allowed him to stroke home the goal that won this leg of the tie from the spot.

There were plenty of plaudits to go around, though, as Martinez's men shook off a frustratingly subdued start and grew into the contest with a performance that magnified in intensity and effectiveness until it peaked with about 20 minutes still to go. Phil Jagielka seemed to wear the frustrations of a wasted domestic season on his sleeve and, along with Lukaku and the seemingly omnipresent James McCarthy, he appeared to be dragging the Blues to victory through force of will with a towering display.

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The captain might have had the opening goal, too, had Lukaku been a little more aware or less selfish when Oleksandr Shovkovskiy's rush of blood to the head left him stranded 30 yards from goal having been dispossessed by the Everton striker and his goal empty. The Belgian went for glory and missed badly while Jagielka, for some reason the furthest Blue shirt forward, was tearing forward on the overlap to his left.

As wayward as Lukaku's 33rd-minute effort may have been, it represented the first shot on goal from the home side after two uncharacteristically poor deliveries from corners by Luke Garbutt. At that stage, Martinez's side was a goal down and on the receiving end of the now familiar mix of groans and boos from the home fans as the team struggled for cohesion and momentum.

The manner in which they had conceded the goal hadn't helped. Antolin Alcaraz, playing in place of John Stones who was laid low with a virus, was at the centre of the defensive uncertainty that undermined Everton's start to the game. His failure to clear ball in the second minute led to a dangerous cross from the Kyiv left that Tim Howard pushed back into danger and it was an ill-advised header by the Paraguayan that required an intervention by McCarthy to slash the ball behind for a corner 12 minutes later.

From that set-piece, with the Blues' biggest men marking a clutch of Kyiv's supposed danger men beyond the penalty spot, Oleg Gusev ghosted from the back post to the front, while his marker Ross Barkley was blocked off from following him by another white shirt. That left the midfielder free to sweep the ball home inside Howard's near post from close range.

Everton eventually got their act together but not before Alcaraz had almost doubled the size of the mountain they were facing with an awful back-pass that almost put Dieumerci Mbokani in one-on-one in the box with Howard and the Amrican had pushed a low drive from Sergiy Sydorchuk around the post.

Lukaku had a direct free kick tipped over after Barkley had been felled in a dangerous area outside the Dynamo area and, from the resulting corner, Phil Jagielka had an excellent header cleared off the line and Alcaraz's first-time shot was deflected inches over the crossbar.

The Blues remained on the offensive, though, with an increased tempo and directness that has been the hallmark of their Continental campaign and which galvanised a crowd that had grown audibly agitated at the sideways and backwards passing that littered the first half hour. As a result, they pulled level six minutes before the break. Lukaku out-muscled his marker and set off for the opposition penalty area in typical fashion, determinedly shrugging off three robust challenges before poking the ball forward to Naismith. The Scot made no mistake with the finish, side-footing expertly past Shovkovskiy.

It was Naismith's second Europa League goal third if you count his crucial involvement in the first goal in the home game against Wolfsburg, which was officially accredited as an own goal to Ricardo Rodriguez and it encapsulated the dilemma over Martinez's formation as it relates to his forward players. Naismith has been in iffy form of late to be honest, he was far below his best tonight, too and his presence alongside Barkley robs the team of width down the left but he pops up with important goals.

That weakness down the left flank, where once Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar formed a lethally effective combination, was frequently noticeable in this contest where a number of over-lapping runs by Garbutt were ignored by both Naismith and Barkley perhaps because they reflexively look to attack down the centre now or move the ball to the right. No surprise, then that as Everton finished the first half strongly it was from the right flank that another great opportunity to score opened up for Kevin Mirallas but he couldn't pick out a blue jersey from the byline.

The Toffees had the bit between their teeth now and they started the second period with the same forward intent that had characterised the last 10 minutes of the first. Alcaraz tried his luck from 30-odd yards with a raking shot that the 'keeper initially spilled before gathering at the second attempt, Naismith glanced a header just wide , Shovkovskiy fisted away Garbutt's wicked free kick, Barkley had a shot blocked after a rare glimpse of attacking confidence from him, and Seamus Coleman drifted a header of his own just past the far post... all within 10 minutes of the restart.

Kyiv were largely on the back foot, spending long periods penned into their own half but Mbokani almost capitalised on hesitation by Howard from a corner but headed into the stantion behind the goal and Andriy Yarmolenko flashed a decent effort narrowly over from the edge of the box.

In between, Arouna Kone had come on for Everton to replace Mirallas who had, again, been a peripheral figure and the Ivorian saw a header saved from McCarthy's cross after Coleman had gone down in a heap in the Dynamo area before Barry was played in neatly by Naismith but scuffed his shot disappointingly wide.

Two more moments involving Lukaku almost engineered a second goal, the first a low shot from the angle that the goalkeeper smothered and then a nice one-two exchange with Naismith that would have given the Scot a great chance to put Everton ahead but he couldn't dig the ball out from between his feet and the chance was lost.

Having given their all since the half-hour mark, Martinez's men began to flag a little as the game moved into the last 20 minutes. Christian Atsu was stripped and ready to come on at one point to offer more pace and energy but when the second change was made it was Osman who got the nod.

The veteran midfielder has shown his ability to make an impact off the bench in the past and he proved to be the crucial difference for the Blues this evening. He was picked out with a brillant reverse pass by McCarthy that sent him to the byline and when his attempted cross was blocked by the arm of Danilo Silva, referee Carlos Velasco pointed to the spot.

Lukaku stepped up, stutter-stepped to prompt Shovkovskiy into diving to his right and then stroke his shot down the middle with enough power that it found net off the 'keeper's foot.

Perhaps due to fatigue or a desire not to get caught out at the back being too adverturous, the drive to increase the margin wasn't quite there in the remaining seven minutes but had Osman been able to get more than just a faint glance on a late header from the irrepressible Lukaku's cross, he might have capped an excellent cameo off the bench.

As it is, Everton will travel to Kyiv next Thursday with a one-goal aggregate lead and with the knowledge that Dynamo's need to attack might play into their counter-attacking hands.

More importantly, the victory and the manner of it provided another potential catalyst to the Blues' mis-firing domestic form. In many ways, the first third of this game felt like a Premier League fixture, right down to the poorly-conceded set-piece that echoed Olivier Giroud's goal off a corner at Arsenal 10 days ago. Unlike at the Emirates or at Stoke the following Wednesday, Everton found the resolve, the impetus and the wherewithal to not only claw their way back but find a way to win. It wasn't a vintage display by any means and with the number of direct balls forward it was very un-Martinez like but the desire and fight was there which was all-important.

The raucous atmosphere that developed over the course of the contest certainly helped. Once the effort on the field had become visible, Everton were roared on by a vociferous Goodison crowd that, if the like of which shows up again on Sunday, should ensure the points needed to secure safety from relegation will come from the six remaining home games.

If that particular corner has finally been turned, we'll find out against Newcastle at the weekend but, for now, the players have ensure that their European dream lives on.

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Reader Comments (44)

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Richard Lyons
1 Posted 13/03/2015 at 06:07:33
Hmm - While it was clearly a promising performance, I think they made us look good in the second half (did we want it more, or did they want it less?), and I found it frustrating that our dominance led to so few clear-cut scoring chances.

However - well done, and let’s continue the winning ways on Sunday - but please give Barry a rest. I lost count of his stray passes...

Jon Miners
2 Posted 13/03/2015 at 06:13:30
What a turnaround! Why can’t we play with that energy every week? Jags and Rom were phenomenal.
Steven Telford
3 Posted 13/03/2015 at 06:31:44
All season we have been too often be providing service to Lukaku with his back to the goal, one lesson which should have been earned a long time ago is that its better to have him run on to it.

We really have a top class striker, and he is well worth the price tag, it will be a hell of pity if our tactics fail to capitalize on the brilliant players we currently have.

Barkley and Lukaku should be absolutely terrorizing defenses with raw talent and natural physical power.

Mohammed Horoub
4 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:11:33
Something to hold onto going back to Kiev. I was hoping for the 3rd goal but regardless I agree that we are setup now for a counter attacking game plan next Thursday.

Jags led by example and Lukaku (ignoring all his offsides) played like a £28 million striker. Naismith is our engine and If I was manager his name would always be first on the sheet. Howard, Barkley and Mirallas gave us what we have come to expect. Useless players that wouldn’t be anywhere near the starting 11 if we had a manager that was able to take charge of the dressing room.

Good to see Osman coming back and giving us a quality 20-min display. Hopefully the momentum can be carried into Sunday because we need 3 home wins to get to safety.

Make no mistake that it was the players who changed the tactics yesterday. RM and his philosophy are finished in the Premier and Europa Leagues. He can pack it in his suitcase and travel to the next town where they might believe his bullshit. Hopefully on Sunday the players play it their way and get the crowd into it from the first minute.

Christopher Timmins
5 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:33:44
If the players can replicate the last 60 minutes of last night’s performance for the rest of the season, we will be okay.
Mark Palmer
6 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:32:29
It’s true that Lukaku has been terrible for the most part of most matches this season. But, Holy Crap he was awesome for 60 mins or so last night. What a joy to see him crashing through defenders and scaring the shite out of them.

And he enjoyed himself a lot more when Kone was on. Lukaku was everywhere – knowing he had help up front so it wasn’t on his shoulders alone to lead the line.

With most of the team having average games last night, we’re still carrying a lot of poor form but I actually have no fear for the second leg. It’s the League that worries me still. I hope Roberto and the players can isolate what works well, and keep on doing it. Playing with pace and forward momentum suits us – I want to see that every week. Twice a week, in some cases.

Adam Luszniak
7 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:43:49
Mohammed, are you absolutely sure the manager had nothing to do with the changed tactics? RM is doing terribly in the PL but so far in the Europa his philosophy seems to be doing quite well in my opinion.

He’s a very frustrating manager and I’m not sure he has it in him to make a success of the PL, but I think it’s pretty shortsighted to say that Martinez has nothing to do with our progression in the Europa League.

Eugene Ruane
8 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:39:00
Mohammed (4) - "Naismith is our engine and If I was manager his name would always be first on the sheet"


His touch is often shocking, as is his passing, but his head never goes down, his attitude and effort are fantastic, he doesn’t switch off until the final whistle and he makes things happen when we’re lacking momentum.

If Mirallas gave half as much of a fuck, he’d be a world beater.

Last week someone posted (as a criticism of Naismith) ’I don’t get excited when he gets on the ball’, on another thread yesterday, someone posted the illuminating ’he’s shit’

Odd for people to watch that much football, yet not have a fucking clue about the game.

Sandra Bowen
9 Posted 13/03/2015 at 07:50:35
A Drogbaesque performance from Lukaku, loved his attitude to the game and his performance along with Jags and McCarthy lifted the crowd. Shame we couldn’t get the third but as Lyndon says, the fact that they need to attack next week may well play into our hands.

Forget the block on Barkley for the goal or having no-one on the posts, the biggest issue of last night’s game and the one against Arsenal is that the corner should be cleared from the corner of the six-yard box. It’s embarrassing, if you look at McCarthy, he should be meeting that Ball before it gets anywhere near the striker, same against the Arse! Basic basic defending.

That’s been my position defending corners for years. The job is to go and meet the ball of any underhit deliveries. It really isn’t difficult. Anyway, decent result and onto Sunday. Same direct intent please.

Jamie Barlow
10 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:00:57
Sandra, we did have McCarthy on the post but he had to come out to try and close the man down who Barkley should have been marking. A pretty well worked corner in my opinion.

Agree 100% Mohammed. I’ve said a number of times on here that Naismith should be the first name on the team sheet. He’s a fantastic professional. Hopefully it’s starting to rub off on Lukaku who was immense last night. A beast.

Colin Glassar
11 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:08:25
Apparently, the Goodison crowd and the players will pick the team to face Newcastle on Sunday. Also, the tactics and substitutions will be decided during the game by both fans and players alike.

Captain Phil J will be the on-field liaison between the Goodison faithful and the players and between them they will make any tactical changes deemed necessary. Acting manager, Roberto Martinez, will be replaced by a cardboard cut out. Joke.

John Keating
12 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:14:10
The first 30 minutes were abysmal and everyone around about were going ape-shit! And quite rightly! To hear posters on TW say we shouldn’t boo the players, well you sit there and watch that crap.

In my opinion it was the players who changed things around. You could literally see them saying bollocks to this shit. Once we started playing forward balls the whole game changed.

What surprised me was how noticeably we tired in the last 10 minutes. Seeing as we never started playing until the 30th minute it was amazing how we couldn’t keep going for the last 60.

Regardless what Martinez said after the match he was definitely happy with the shite sideways passing of the first 30 minutes. He was nodding and encouraging the lads. After they decided to change it he was a bit lost.

After watching a rerun later and listening to Baines’s comments (or lack of them), if we stay up, it won’t be because of Martinez.

Tony Hill
13 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:07:13
I agree Eugene that Naismith's attitude and will are exemplary. He has an Everton heart for which much can be forgiven. He lacks a yard and I think it's fair to say that he has had passages this season where he's been very poor in his touch and form generally. His goal return is average, though he has the happy knack of getting goals in bigger games and against better teams.

But he is a man whom I am very pleased to see wearing our shirt.

Ian Jones
14 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:31:17
Whilst it is always good to see Everton players on TV having a stint as pundits and giving an insight into the club, let us be fair to Leighton Baines with his comments on TV at half time and after.

He is in a difficult position to comment on team mates and the manager and how the team is organised and set up, especially as he is still part of the squad.

He did appear vague on certain issues such as how to defend corners and taking them which didn't come over too well. He could have expressed that better.

Perhaps clubs should think twice about putting players in that position.

Gerrard was similarly put on the spot recently with the way he suggested Balotelli did not respect Henderson and Liverpool as a club for pinching the ball and scoring the penalty. I assumed from that Balotelli may not be the best loved player.

Anyway, whoever wants to take the credit for Everton turning it around yesterday, be it the crowd, the team or the management, it was a great achievement to get back into the game and take a lead into Kiev. If we can score over there, and I think we can, it will make it an interesting game. A nil-nil going into injury time would be hard to watch.

I might like to see Gibson in the starting line-up to perhaps provide some forward impetus. Also perhaps Kone and Lukaku up front. I would take Mirallas out and possibly Barkley to accommodate the above changes. But then we need width so it's hard to pick a starting line up.

Ian Jones
15 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:55:35
Also forgot to add that I have been a critic of Lukaku on many occasions but credit where it's due. He was a lot better than usual. First touch and control was much better.
Ray Roche
16 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:44:17

John, you comment on how we tired in the second half, well, that's been one of my biggest complaints against Martinez this season. As a team, we are nowhere near as fit as we should be, or have been in recent seasons.

And when Osman came out a month or so back and said that a hard, fitness, Martinez training session on a Tuesday was the equivalent of the easy Friday sessions with the ball under Moyes regime it's not difficult to see why we are knackered after 65-70 mins.

This season we have conceded half the goals against in the last 30 minutes of matches, 21, as we have in the first 60 minutes, 20. That, to my mind, is down to lack of fitness which leads to tiredness and a lack of concentration.

Trevor Peers
17 Posted 13/03/2015 at 08:47:08
Great to get back to winning ways I agree with most of the posts the victory had little to do with the manager's tactics. It's important we keep the momentum going into the Newcastle game with the players taking the initiative and, with the crowd behind them, we can secure the victories we need to get us to safety.

Surely when we're safe, the manager must be replaced: his failed tactics are bankrupt... he's become an embarrassment.

Patrick Murphy
18 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:14:04
Ian #14 - I think the whole current first-team player on the panel is a recipe for disaster, one slip of the tongue or misguided utterance by the player could cause ruptures in the squad. I could just about understand Gerrard being a guest of ITV as he is nearing the end of his career and won’t be part of LFC next year.

But having a player such as Baines who will hopefully be part of Everton’s squad for a few more seasons is in my opinion inappropriate, but I don’t suppose the clubs have much power to stop the broadcasters from this type of access, after all this is one of the many reasons why the TV companies spend so much money on the sport.

Brent Stephens
19 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:11:05
What a rich vein is ToffeeWeb – several great reports of the match, every match. Kenrick and Lloyd as experienced holding reporters, giving Traill free licence to roam the keyboard match after match (inexperienced but developing nicely).

Some significant, specific footballing talking points (Rom's muscling for the first goal, Jags passion etc), but the big talking points for me are about what was going on around that. Did we really see the players take the initiative instead of being hidebound by sterile tactics? Did we really hear Baines "say" those things "between the lines"? Did we really see the crowd dictate tactics?

Am I naive, again, in coming out of a match thinking that this might just be a turning point? After a miserable start, the passion and pace were tangible. Newcastle next – come on, everybody.

Sam Hoare
20 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:24:03
Last night was surely the most compelling evidence yet that the manager's system (retaining posession to draw out the opposition and wait for gaps) does not suit us as much as what the players chose to do (get the ball forward quickly and directly to Lukaku with runners in support).

And yet Roberto has made it clear that he will stick to his beliefs despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

The good news is that last night showed we have some great players. The bad news is that it's only when they decide to play more directly that they are able to showcase their talents.

Phil Walling
21 Posted 13/03/2015 at 09:24:28
As Eugene points out, Nais works his heart out in the cause and every team needs such a player. We've certainly had a few over the years that we've only valued when they are no longer around.

Have to agree also with Colin. Except for his last word!

Iain Love
22 Posted 13/03/2015 at 10:05:18
30 mins in, I thought Rebrov had done his homework and we were going out, but – galvanised by their goal – all of a sudden, we started to play the ball forward. Whose decision that was, I don't know. But it worked.

Lukaku was immense: pace and power to set up Naismith, who I think can be a headless chicken at times but took his goal well. I thought Coleman started doing what he does again and looked a threat. Alcaraz...? Haven't we got anyone else?

Good (not great) win and something to take away with us next week. I just hope we don't revert to type against Newcastle on Sunday...

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 13/03/2015 at 10:18:13
The most worrying thought for me is that, as bad as Howard has been, how many games has Robles played since he was disgracefully discarded by Martinez? Not many... if any, because Russell Griffiths has played a lot of the U21 games.

If Howard is injured (he won't be dropped), this means Robles will come into the team without hardly any game time.

Mohammed Horoub
24 Posted 13/03/2015 at 10:22:55
Adam@7 from day 1 Martinez has made it clear that he believes in a system and philosophy that if applied correctly can beat any team. That system was showcased by Barcelona over a period of 3-4 years where they crushed all teams in their path. The reason it worked for them is because they had Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. While Messi is a great player the system only works because they were lucky enough to have 2 players like Xavi and Iniesta come along. Spain also won 3 tournaments because of this. Once those 2 players started to fade so did the system and Barcelona is now playing to the strengths of the players they have. (Which is very direct)
Had the tempo yesterday changed after we conceded the goal I would agree with you that the message could have come from RM to change the tactics. I was sitting thousands of miles away watching the game on TV and even I could feel Goodison reaching boiling point with the way the team continued to try and play RM's way until Jags and Barry started to play more direct and with a higher tempo. This was purely because of the tension they felt coming from the stands and no one can convince me otherwise.
My main problem with Martinez is that we never hear him after a game talking about how he catered our tactics to neutralize the strengths of our opponents. I would love for Everton to show up and not have to worry about the opposition and play RM's tactics and win but 6 wins in the prem (same as QPR) tells me we need to have a more practical approach.
For example next Thursday if Baines is fit I would play Baines and Garbutt down the left because their main threat came from their right winger(Yarmalenko?)
But RM will go into the game setting the team up to play to what he perceives to be our strengths. (Apparently Tim Howard is one of them)
I have lost faith in him and any success/ premier league survival will be down to the player's pride and supporter's passion more than his outdated system.
John Keating
25 Posted 13/03/2015 at 11:53:42
spot on.
People on here moan about the crowd getting on the players backs when we see this shite square and backward passing. That’s their opinion and they are entitled to it.
However, if we had just sat there quietly last night politely clapping at every shite pass we would have lost that game for sure.
The crowds frustration got to the players and they, not that clown Martinez, changed the pattern of play !
The crowd won that match last night and if it takes us moaning and bloody groaning on Sunday to change things well so be it.
Phil Walling
26 Posted 13/03/2015 at 12:21:38
John, you are correct. No one sitting near me ever boos. They are much to polite for that. But recently their comments have been uttered in much louder voice and, it seems, timed so that players (and manager) can hear them clearly.

Last night I felt that people all over the ground adopted a similar policy. And the players took note.

Odd that the manager so easily took responsibility for the change in approach but, perhaps, that sums him up. An opportunist.

Mike Childs
27 Posted 13/03/2015 at 13:01:04
Like Phil I agree with Colin except for the last word. Why wouldn't I? After all I was the crazy pushing for Et'o to be player/manager. Call me naive.
Bill Gall
28 Posted 13/03/2015 at 13:00:03
Who was responsible for the turn-around, players or manager?
Watching the game on TV, it is sometimes hard to gauge the atmosphere at the ground but after watching the first 10 min the silence as they say was deafening. I was already starting to worry at the way Kyiv was pressing and Everton were doing their usual passing around at the back and was not surprised when Kyiv scored and thought, here we go, we are in for a long night.

After the goal, although the crowd became more vocal it became obvious that they were more critical of the typical slow passing game and let their feelings be known that came over loud and clear, and started to encourage the players when ever they started to move the ball quickly. This to me was the turning point in the game, and as over the last few months never seeing a Plan B, all the credits and praise should go to (a) the crowd for letting their feelings be known emphatically, and (b) the players for standing up and showing what they are capable off once the manager realizes, that sometimes slow build up from the back is not the only way to play.

Regardless who made the decision, congratulations to the team on their effort and desire to get a result. It was a lot better than what has been seen for a couple of months.

Eugene Ruane
29 Posted 13/03/2015 at 13:56:50
Think the players have felt supporter frustration on many occasions this season and it hasn't made much difference.

Last night (to me) felt very different - last night there was real anger and it looked like fear was the motivation - basically scared into action.

Joe Foster
30 Posted 13/03/2015 at 14:26:30
I think the turnaround had something to do with the fans reaction to the first 25 mins of our usual pass pass go nowhere style. So maybe the correlation between what we as fans do does have an affect on the pitch. When we started playing like we all know we can, the support was there for all to see and hear.
Colin Grierson
31 Posted 13/03/2015 at 14:18:26
Mohamed #4
Eugene #8

You are both spot on with regard to Naismith. There was a moment last night that highlighted his importance to us and it wasn't the goal. In the 85th minute he was closing down their right back and urging Kone (who should have had a lot more left in the tank than Nessie) to close down their centre half. It is that kind of desire and selfless work for the team that ,for me, allows him the odd technical hitch. He's a superb professional and Im' glad he's a blue.

The crowd certainly played their part last night. I don't think there is any debate as to whether the urging of the crowd made the players increase the tempo and look to get if forward with more urgency. It was mentioned in commentary by Peter Reid.

I used to live in Bangkok and watched a fair bit of Thai boxing. I was never sure whether the tempo of the drum beat that accompanied the fights was set by the fighters or the drummer. Last night it was the drummer controlling the fight, of that I am sure.

Mike Price
32 Posted 13/03/2015 at 15:30:10
Don't get this Naismith love in. You're admitting he has terrible touch, vision and passing but tries hard and plods around a lot shouting at the referee and others. Effort and attitude should be bare minimum, it's just that most of the others are lacklustre and passive which makes him stand out a bit.

He scores the odd goal which is something but he's clearly bottom feeder Premier League or Championship at best.

John Keating
33 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:42:20
Well Mike
"Bottom feeder Premier League or Championship at best"
He’s obviously at the right Club then !
Clive Mitchell
34 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:23:08
Mike, 32 - you serious? How would you compare Naismith's overall impact on last night's match with that of, say, Mirallas or Barkley? Naismith's qualities make it more possible for us to have a Rolls Royce like Barkley in the team. That in itself is a massive contribution.
Jay Harris
35 Posted 13/03/2015 at 16:45:01
every team needs a grafter and some passion.

Naismith supplies that in spades.

So did Phil Neville and he was not technically gifted.

If only the cardboard cutout (Thanks for that Colin it sums RM up perfectly) had the same intensity instead of being so laid back we would have a higher tempo of play every game.

Max Wilson
36 Posted 13/03/2015 at 17:03:07
I'm sorry to say I agree with Mike Price but still relieved he scored that goal. There are too many deficits in his game to make up for the "enthusiasm". Rangers didn't stop him going.

But lots of my Toffee mates are saying something worrying, that the Goodison crowd changed the tactics, not the manager! Doesn't that frighten you if it's true? It does me.

We'll see if three points can be gained on Sunday. Personally I'd rather see us safe in the PL than anything.

Mike Childs
37 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:12:05
Dam it to Hatties and I have been on Naisy too but he does still score goals. A game changers that some with higher talent don't do. at least he gives his heart all the time. My only criticism is he sometimes goes down to quickly but at his size & speed any advantage we can get I guess......
Steve Cotton
38 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:49:44
Like him or loathe him he is one of only 3 scorers we have in the team, and if Mirallas is having an off day then we need him.
Mike Price
39 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:44:55
We're all happy when he scores or does something decent in a blue shirt obviously, and he does win a decent amount of headers for his size.

He tries hard but isn't very good at it. He shuffles around, has no pace, not a very good tackler, he's not aggressive and he is incredibly limited technically.

Maybe it's because he plays out of position, but he's clearly not a good enough striker at this level. Seriously, he would struggle to get in any of the upper Championship teams. Not to worry, we've just extended him until 2019!!

Andy Meighan
40 Posted 13/03/2015 at 18:59:07
As much as I admire Naismiths workrate, selfless running and attitude, we could have done with more of the same ilk this season. The truth is he’s limited. The amount of times he misplaces passes is criminal. Yes in the last few games he’s hit a bit of form but for months before he was poor... but there seems to be a train of thought on here that, if you criticise certain posters’ favourites, your automatically categorised as a moron who knows nothing. Well there’s thousands of us who attend.... and the game is all about opinions. I actually think Naismith is an average player – nothing more, nothing less. Does that make me a bad judge of player? It probably does to the Naismith apologists...
Callum McNab
41 Posted 13/03/2015 at 19:16:21
Mike, he has scored 7 in the Premier League, a couple in the Europa and even one against Poland (who ain't no slouch). Not bad for a not so good player. He is often played out of position but he gives his all for the Blue shirt. I would take Naismith any day over the likes of Mirallas who does sod all until he gets his 60-min substitution. I agree the man isn't the most gifted,but without some of his goals this season we would be in an even worse mess than we are in.
Ross Edwards
43 Posted 13/03/2015 at 20:15:33
The booing sparked them into life. Because that first half an hour was as piss poor as we've seen all season. But, after that we were excellent.
Andy Crooks
44 Posted 13/03/2015 at 21:21:45
Eugene, you make a couple of very pertinent points. The first is about Steven Naismith. I defended him on here against dog's abuse. In fact one poster suggested that opposing fans were laughing at him. Well, I'll be the first to admit that he lacks a little guile but, in in my view, he can read the Alan Ball thread on this site and say, hand on heart, "I haven't got the talent but by fuck I've got the heart of the great Evertonian."

Second point, we started frightened of the supporters and played the worst in ten years. Then, the team got fucking terrified of the supporters and played to save their lives. You were spot on, we are where we are; let's get to fuck out of it together. Every Evertonian at that game last night should feel proud.

Harold Matthews
45 Posted 14/03/2015 at 00:05:09
Pleased with the win against a side that were happy to sit on an early away goal but I didn't see a lot to get excited about. Martinez is still blaming everyone but himself and I'll believe we've turned the corner when it happens.

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