Everton 1 - 0 Burnley

In the wake of the infamous Kevin Mirallas penalty incident against West Bromwich Albion back in January, Roberto Martinez was emphatic in his declaration that such a situation would not be repeated. "Leighton Baines is on penalties," the manager insisted after the Belgian had elected to take a first-half spot kick and the missed, most likely costing the Blues victory in that game.

Mirallas scored at Goodison Park from open play this afternoon to secure a victory over relegation-threatened Burnley that was a good deal more comfortable than the narrow scoreline suggests but not before another penalty farce had raised more questions about the level of leadership in a team that has had its share of problems this season.

Aaron Lennon, the torch-bearer during Everton's early charge with a series of purposeful and pacey runs, had barrelled through the visitors' defence in the 10th minute and been chopped down by David Jones with a challenge that referee Mike Jones deemed to have continued into the box. With Romelu Lukaku on the substitutes' bench, all eyes turned to Baines to assume responsibilities for the penalty but it was Ross Barkley who took ownership of the ball and whose poor kick was foiled by Tom Heaton in the Clarets' goal.

The 21 year-old's failure from 12 yards proved academic in the end, both in terms of the result and Barkley's own performance which was, on the whole, much improved on the tenatative, unproductive displays that have characterised much of his season. It was his strong run and shot in only the second minute that signalled the home side's early intent, and while Everton's overall performance didn't deliver the kind of entertainment for which a sell-out crowd was no doubt pining, there were promising signs that the current unbeaten run is reviving some of the Blues' attacking belief.

They should have won by more, though, particularly after Ashley Barnes was sent off in first-half stoppage time for the second of two ill-advised late challenges which condemned Sean Dyche's side to playing the entire second period with only 10 men. Everton racked up 21 shots in all over the 90 minutes but carved out few clear-cut chances and provided no ammunition for Lukaku in his bid to reach 20 goals for the season after he was introduced for the last half an hour.

Continuing a theme established early on in the season, Martinez's men often let themselves down with the final ball or allowed promising counter-attack opportunities to fizzle out with poor decision-making at the crucial moment. Arouna Kone, starting his fifth League game in a row but again struggling to justify his inclusion, wasted one such chance by planting the ball into the goalkeeper's arms while Mirallas wrecked an even better situation with an over-elaborate heel flick when simply moving the ball on to his better-placed team-mate would have put him in on goal. Just two examples where smarter decisions could have yielded a better chances and, perhaps, the further goals that Everton's dominance merited.

Even so, Martinez's decision to finally field two wide players and allow Barkley to roam in his preferred role off the striker, coupled with his apparent directive to James McCarthy to get further forward, demonstrated some welcome flexibility from the manager, even if the ruthelessness and desire to really put consistently put teams to the sword still hasn't yet returned.

The better balance to the line-up didn't quite translate into a mirrored raids down the respective flanks by Baines and Seamus Coleman – the former appeared to be holding back, perhaps because of a shortage of cover from Mirallas while Lennon's ceaseless industry gave the Irishman greater license to bomb forward.

It was Coleman's cross that Heaton could only palm into the path of Baines with a quarter of an hour gone but the keeper recovered to parry the left back's powerful shot. Lennon, meanwhile, was finding joy drifting off the wing into a central position and when Barkley picked him out with a smart pass, he stepped inside his marker and drove a shot just wide from 20 yards.

The Toffees were exhibiting a pleasing quickness and determination in their play and it was rewarded just before the half-hour mark with a fine move that ended with Mirallas rifling home at the second attempt. Lennon cut inside once more and found Kone who in turn laid it off to James McCarthy and it was his centre that Mirallas initially mis-kicked before he buried it past Heaton to make it 1-0.

Everton's propensity to throw away a lead almost reared its head a minute later as Danny Ings' clipped ball carved the home defence open but David Jones lashed his shot from the angle an inch over the crossbar. It was something of a let-off but it would be as close as Burnley would come to scoring. Gareth Barry, who had a decent game apart from a few poor passes in his own half that went unpunished, snuffed out a chance for Barnes with a last-ditch tackle and the referee waved away penalty claims for a handball by John Stones but the Clarets were surprisingly meek for a team fighting for their Premier League lives.

Their prospects of getting anything of the game looked to have evaporated when Barnes received his marching orders for catching Coleman with a late tackle; as it turned out, they would remain in with a shout to the final whistle because Everton weren't able to kill the game off in the second half.

It wasn't for want of trying, at least in the early stages after half time. Capitalising on the extra man, Baines popped up on the overlap in the 48th minute and centred for Kone who prodded goalwards and forced a good save from Heaton at his near post. The England international then showed terrific awareness six minutes later when he intercepted George Boyd's pass and picked out Kone but the Ivorian went for glory despite McCarthy being better placed and he skied his shot into the stands.

After Mirallas had somewhat fortunately escaped a red card of his own for an ugly high tackle on Boyd, it was Baines again in the 56th minute with a lovely pass inside to Lennon to move it on to McCarthy who tried to pick his spot with a side-foot shot but he put it the wrong side of the post. And Baines forced another save from the 'keeper with a stinging shot 25 yards out, Heaton pushing it away to safety with both hands before Coleman hammered an effort just wide from a similar distance.

Lukaku's arrival offered the potential for greater firepower up front but he would get just one sniff at adding to his tally for the season off Phil Jagielka's long ball forward, a chance that disappeared when he slipped slightly as he tried to bring the ball down and Heaton was able to steal it off him. Instead, it was Barry and McCarthy who almost doubled the lead in the closing stages, the former popping up unmarked at the back post to meet a Baines free kick but his somewhat rushed shot was saved while the latter fizzed an effort of his own half a wide from Barkley's lay-off.

Burnley's late rally was short lived but Ings was left kicking himself for despatching a free header high over Howard's bar and Everton safely saw out stoppage time with Barkley's final effort, a selfish shot that prompted one last save from Heaton with Lukaku unmarked and calling to be played in to his right.

A goal for the Belgian striker would have provided a little more value for money but it proved to be a routine win that brings the Blues' points haul from the last 15 available to 13. It drags Martinez's side to within a couple of points of the top half and keeps alive the more remote hope they could sneak into eighth if they can keep this winning run going.

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Reader Comments (18)

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Darren Hind
1 Posted 19/04/2015 at 12:11:50
Yep. Not a million miles away from the way I saw it.

Good to see McCarthy getting forward and going close a couple of times – especially after me complaining he doesn’t do it enough. Some of those near-misses will start going in if he keeps doing it.

On the down side: MirallasÂ’s tackle... Why? A few winced around me when he did it; I thought heÂ’d just dangled a foot but, having seen it again today, I think it's really, really nasty.

There’s not many Everton players who I’ve disliked down the years, but I will shed no tears if he – and his Bentley – drive off into the sunset at the end of this season. Clearly talented, but I cant take to him. He could very easily have been given his marching orders yesterday, or worse still, broke the guys leg.

I want our players to be hard, but there is nothing hard about shithouse tackles like that. Having defended McCarthy against claims of cowardice recently, I offer no defence whatso-fucking-ever for Mirallas.

Harold Matthews
2 Posted 19/04/2015 at 13:05:13
Darren. With you all the way on the Mirallis tackle. The guy is a yellow-bellied, money-grabbing slimeball. I donÂ’t care if he scores a hat-trick every week. HeÂ’s not fit to wear our badge.
Michael Winstanley
3 Posted 19/04/2015 at 13:06:33
We were wasteful in front of goal yesterday, McCarthy should have seen his name on the score sheet which in itself shows promise.

We won and kept a clean sheet, itÂ’s all that matters given the form this season. I donÂ’t expect us to play champagne football and sweep all before us although it would be nice.

I expect another win next week, not too bothered about performances, we need to start winning on a consistent basis first.

Mike Childs
4 Posted 19/04/2015 at 13:09:41
Great report Lyndon. I saw the same game as you.
Colin Glassar
5 Posted 19/04/2015 at 13:32:30
Darren, you are quickly becoming my TW hero. I agree wholeheartedly with you about Mirallas.

Hopefully, next season we can find ourselves agreeing more than disagreeing. If thatÂ’s the case, then it will mean we (as a team) are doing well.

Sean Patton
6 Posted 19/04/2015 at 13:30:18
I know it's a win and that is all that matters but the penalty debacle had me fuming. We have missed 3 this season now; we have one of the best in the league who, after missing for the first time, seems to not want to take them. Is Baines that much of a shrinking violet???
Mick Wrende
9 Posted 19/04/2015 at 17:50:51
There are two views from Evertonians – the first being that we won and that's all that matters; and the second is that we try to win by playing entertaining football and if we occasionally come unstuck then so be it. Personally I am in the latter camp because I have no real interest in whether we finish just in the top half or just below as long as the match is enjoyable.

Of course if we were pressing for the title or the Champions League or fighting relegation my views would veer the other way but yesterday was a nothing game and we could have bloodied a couple of youngsters and tried to play a more expansive game. 1-0 against the bottom team with 10 men is hardly satisfactory.

The other thing is, apart from Lennon we have no entertaining players, no-one to get your pulse racing. And he of course isn't even one of ours.

Richard Lyons
10 Posted 19/04/2015 at 20:07:45
Exactly as described, some attractive football played, but there seems to be a force-field just inside the edge of the penalty area, where everything breaks down. Barkley had the ball in that space several times, got immediately crowded out and was never able to thread a pass through to anyone.

For me, this was the Lennon & McCarthy show: great to see McCarthy getting forward, and Lennon clearly has just one thing on his mind: get the ball and attack – I love it. We really should have scored a second goal, and one of them surely deserved it.

I expect a completely different set of tactics next Sunday, probably McCarthy wonÂ’t be getting forward as much, otherwise I think Mata may terrorise Barry and Jagielka...

Also, I think Baines looked worn out in the second half – I really wanted to see Garbutt. And we should sell Mirallas – nasty piece of work.

Patrick Murphy
11 Posted 19/04/2015 at 20:20:20
Richard,

IÂ’ll be surprised if we see Macca next week; he didnÂ’t look too clever when he went off injured.

Patrick Murphy
12 Posted 19/04/2015 at 20:22:15
Mick (#9)

IÂ’m firmly in your camp if we canÂ’t get in the top 4 or win a trophy then we at least deserve to be entertained with a decent level of football.

Some of the stuff that gets played in the PL is an embarrassment. Perhaps every fan of every club have made unrealistic demands on their teams and this has led managers to be too pragmatic and less adventurous.

Peter Mills
13 Posted 19/04/2015 at 19:53:49
Mick (#9), IÂ’m with you regarding the lack of entertainment, but I do enjoy watching Stones who is excellent already and, all being well, will develop into a world class player.
Peter Barry
15 Posted 20/04/2015 at 01:24:59
It not just winning its how you win that matters and turgid boring crap is still turgid boring crap if you win 1 - 0 or 3 - 0.
Harold Matthews
16 Posted 20/04/2015 at 01:38:38
Depends on what we mean by "entertaining." Against both Swansea and Burnley there were many moments of good possession football in the final third when Naismith and Lukaku were not on the pitch. Indeed, the quick, intricate movement which led to the Lennon and Mirallis goals was outstanding entertainment.

When Naismith and Lukaku enter the fray we tend to give the ball away but their constant goal threat has us on the edge of our seats. A different scenario but still entertaining. The Jagielka pass to the big fella was Pirlo-like. Only last week the gifted Italian hit an identical pass which led to a goal and everyone raved about it. Shame Lukaku lost his footing but it was his presence which caused Jags to hit the pass. The lad thrives on goals and he gives us that extra something. LetÂ’s hope he stays injury free.

Also, as Peter points out, we are entertained by seeing our favourite players in action.

ItÂ’s a difficult one. The Chelsea crowd seemed to enjoy Mourinho parking the bus in a home game and winning 1-0.

As for Everton. WeÂ’ve had a season of slow give-the-ball-away stuff which has been hard to endure but IÂ’m optimistic about the future. Lennon has upped the pace, McCarthy is getting forward and Coleman is hitting first time crosses. Long may it continue.

Darren Hind
17 Posted 20/04/2015 at 07:19:33
Got to disagree Harold.

JagielkaÂ’s pass was indeed Pirloesque, but this is an old broken clock scenario. Jagielka will knock 4-5 passes a game "somewhere in the vicinity of" one or two are bound to come off during the course of a season.

37,000 Evertonians regularly fork out around 40 quid a time to follow their team, Blues around the world who are not fortunate enough to able to get there set their alarms for the craziest times in order to get up and watch. Those who cant afford it, will try to get a semi decent link on their PCs or have to wait for MotD. They all have one thing in common. They are desperate to see somebody in a blue shirt do something with a ball that they cant/couldÂ’nt have done themselves.

Our players earn 㿞/60/70k a week and for nearly all of this season, nearly all of them have failed to deliver. The manager has been less than useless too. I cant accept that the broken clock level of success we have been restricted to constitutes entertainment.

Btw Harrold: Lyndon and Michael make the rules around here. Nobody else has earned that right.
You talk more sense than most of the rest of us and If you want to change your opinion, have a strop, or simply decide to take a Sabbatical. That's your right. You don't have to explain yourself to anybody.

Nigel Gregson
18 Posted 22/04/2015 at 20:36:59
Darren, it is rare that you, Colin, Harold and I are in total agreement. However we are, about Mirallas. I was over him during the original penalty-gate and now IÂ’m twice as much over him.

He crosses the line way too much – there’s passion, and then there’s just pure malice and selfishness (the sort we used to see from Suarez regularly). I wouldn’t want any such players to play for us.


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