Lukaku's class caps gritty Everton display and sends Chelsea packing

The Belgian produced a moment of brilliance and followed it up with a second well-taken goal fire the Blues to a semi-final date at Wembley.

Lyndon Lloyd 12/03/2016 36comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2 - 0 Chelsea

Cometh the hour, cometh Evertons main man.

Perhaps the only way Romelu Lukaku could have timed his first goal against his old club better would have been if hed added a fourth in the League game at Stamford Bridge in January after Ramiro Funes Mori had made it 3-2 , and even then there wasnt an FA Cup semi-final riding on the result.

Certainly, the Toffees top scorer would have been hard-pressed to score a better one than the opener at Goodison Park this afternoon that lifted the roof off the Grand Old Lady in front of new investor Farhad Moshiri. The 60-year-old billionaire seems to have a permanent knowing look in his eyes, a cat-that-got-the-cream smile, and he must have been purring inside having savoured a raucous FA Cup Sixth Round win from his new team.

Lukakus piece of magic, a bustling charge in from the touchline followed by a slaloming move towards goal and an unerring finish inside his compatriot, Thibault Courtois, far post, was a perfectly-timed intervention that broke open a tie that had been a feisty tussle played out by two evenly-matched outfits for the preceding 78 minutes.

Less a chess match between two clubs playing to keep their respective seasons alive than an almost literal sparring session at times, it was a contest where clear-cut chances were at an acute premium and which just needed someone to stamp their authority and class on it. Cometh the hour, indeed...

It wasn't destined to be but it could have been Diego Costa had Chelseas scowling and abrasive marksman been able to take his mind off kicking, pulling and play-acting his way through the game. As it was, the only time he would wriggle free of the attentions of Evertons attentive back line, he could only roll a shot across the face of Joel Robles goal.

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The rest of the time he walked a tightrope of his own making after a retaliatory hand across Gareth Barrys face earned him the first of two yellow cards and it was no surprise when his frustrations got the better of him and he received his marching orders for thrusting his head into the same players face once the match was effectively beyond Guus Hiddinks men.Barry would follow him down the tunnel three minutes later for a silly trip on Cesc Fabregas but his job had been done by then.

Reeling from his teams latest collapse last weekend, Roberto Martinez needed a big performance from his Everton players and a game-plan to match this afternoon. He got the former and effectively implemented the latter, with his record signing delivering the payoff with two goals in four minutes to settle the tie and send the Blues to what they hope will be the first of two dates at Wembley this season.

Barry, returning to the side after the bout of illness that kept him on the bench for all but a couple of minutes of last Saturdays game, was his usual disruptive best in front of the back four; James McCarthy was perhaps found wanting with the ball but was a continual pest in hunting it down; while the pairing of Phil Jagielka and Funes Mori, ably assisted by the fullbacks, formed a defiant barrier in central defence.

WithWillians ample threat nullified, Costa wound up and starved of shooting opportunities, Fabregas vision largely contained, and Pedro stifled by the impressive Seamus Coleman, Everton mostly had Chelsea where they wanted them with the kind of defensive shape that was wholly missing in the later stages of last weekends defeat to West Ham. Throw in the cynical and gritty streak that has often been missing from Martinezs team and you had the recipe for a great day on the Blue of Merseyside.

That they restricted a team that was, Champions League aside, on a 15-game unbeaten run since Hiddink took over to a single shot on target in 90 minutes – a driven Willian free-kick pushed over well by Robles – was a clear illustration of just how well Everton went about their business this afternoon. It came at the expense of genuine attacking enterprise on their part for long periods, particularly in the first half where three Tom Cleverley efforts two comfortably saved, the other well wide were their only attempts at breaking the deadlock before the interval, but it built the platform from which Lukaku could win the match late on.

With neither side really able to penetrate the others penalty area, it looked for long stretches of the first hour as though a set-piece might prove to be the difference and Funes Mori came close with a towering header off Cleverleys in-sinwger five minutes into the second period but couldnt keep his effort down.

Everton began to increase the pressure as an equally tight second half progressed, though, withthe excellent Aaron Lennon, a player enjoying a wonderful renaissance at Goodison since his man-of-the-match display at Carlisle in the Fourth Round, and Coleman becoming increasing threats down the right and Ross Barkley starting to emerge from his shell.Barkley would blaze one effort well over from the angle with Lukaku better placed in the middle, his only real sight of goal all afternoon.

The best from Lukaku was to come, however. Ploughing the lone furrow up front, the bulk of the Belgian's involvement in the first 75 minutes had come with his back to goal; his first touch, much-maligned at times, was routinely effective as he held off defenders and played the link man to help build Everton attacks. His clearest moment with the ball in front of him came in the 72nd minute as he raced to catch a through-ball from from Barkley but was just foiled by the goalkeeper who had raced off his line.

Courtois was powerless six minutes later, though, as Lukaku exploded off the left flank, stayed on his feet as Azpilicueta grappled at his shoulder, tied Gary Cahill up in knots and picked his spot on the other side of the goal. It was the encapsulation of how devastating Evertons treasured striker can be; a beautiful and rare combination of raw power, pace, determination, twinkle-toed finesse and clinical finishing.

His second, just four minutes later might not have been quite as spectacular but, in effectively killing the game, it was just as important. Played onside by Azpilicueta on the far side, Lukaku collected Barkleys knock forward and advanced before burying a right-foot shot under the keeper.

From then on, it was just a case of closing the game out and ensuring that the visitors had no route back into the game. Three substitutions, opportunities for Goodison to applaud the likes of Lennon and Lukaku off the pitch as well as to disrupt the flow, followed before referee Oliver whistled to confirm the Blues place in the last four.

If this game and two of the three against Manchester City in January have demonstrated anything its that this Everton side, when it has a clear mission and mandate to defend as determinedly and effectively as they can attack smoothly and efficiently against supposedly inferior opposition, they look like the complete team. One capable of occupying a place in the upper echelons in the Premier League to which they have been pretenders all season.

What Martinez has been unable to manage so far, however, is to get his team to pivot from one posture to the other within the same game, particularly in games they have controlled and in which they have established a lead. Had the Blues displayed the samecommitment to retaining shape, to diligent pressing and to closing down avenues for the opposition against the likes of West Ham, Bournemouth, Stoke, Chelsea (A), etc as they did this afternoon, its likely they would have been able to avoid most or perhaps all of those psychologically damaging results.

Therein lies the key determination as to whether this FA Cup run will be the swallow that doesnt quite make a summer or whether it can help this Everton side find itself for the wider and more important context of the Premier League. Can the manager demonstrate that he has learned from those past mistakes; that he can instil in his side the versatility and natural ability to pivot their emphasis according to the changing demands with a given game?

Many questions regarding the Blues longer-term prospects under Martinez will be asked over the remaining 10 League games but for the next week at least,Evertonian hopes and dreams will be on successive trips to play under the Wembley Arch over the next couple of months and the possibility of an end to an achingly long trophy drought.

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Reader Comments (36)

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Allan Hough
1 Posted 13/03/2016 at 07:26:25
A week is a long time in football.
Bob Parrington
2 Posted 13/03/2016 at 07:43:04
Thanks for the report Lyndon. Over from Australia and driving through Europe on business, I'm looking forward to being at The Old Lady for the Arsenal game. Omens are good for a win. It must have been great being at yesterday's game!
Charles Brewer
3 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:05:17
A small point, perhaps, but I thought the referee was excellent. He didn't get everything, and I'd have been unsurprised if the unpleasant Kenedy had gone off, but Oliver got most of the more explosive calls correct, played advantage intelligently and kept a possibly explosive game on course.

He also didn't appear to want to be the centre of attention, unlike the inept poseurs Atkinson and Clattenberg, and dished out what I thought was a fair series of yellow cards.

Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:08:37
OK, you TW historians... do you remember a more spectacular individual Everton goal, and of such significance, than Rom's? Crashing through two defenders, leaving the third flatfooted and then screwing Cahill 360 degrees into the ground before tucking the ball inside the far post... and punching a ticket to Wembley in the process.

I can't remember a better one, but I've only been a Blue for 30 years. Only Rooney against Arsenal ever caused me to explode out of the chair and jump up and down like this one, and much of that was astonishment because he was 16.

So what do you say, boys and girls?

Matt Traynor
5 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:23:05
Charles #3 - good point about the referee. He was one we've had a mixed history with, but it was noticeable to me that he was looking to play the advantage wherever he could.

Mike #4 - on the TV feed I was watching they made reference to Ricky Villa - and then on the radio afterwards, the same parallels were drawn.

Martin Mason
6 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:25:31
I can't remember seeing a better goal for Everton and perhaps overall not since George best dribbled through the Arsenal team. Lukaku is magnificent, so lucky to see him in the Blue of Everton but he's destined for higher things I think and good luck to him.
David Greenwood
7 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:28:21
Very professional performance. Excellent win and hopefully two trips to Wembley to come.

Fantastic goal by Rom.

What a great start for Mr Moshiri.

And excellent point about the ref Charles.

Anthony Hawkins
8 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:28:33
Trying to recall goals from the likes of Kanchelskis, Beardsley, Lampar or even Gascoigne in his fading years.

I don't recall a goal with such an impressive mazey run. Nor do I recall an Everton player making so many international opponents look so stupid.

Hopefully Lukaku can repeat these performances!

Mike Green
9 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:33:44
Chris Regan
10 Posted 13/03/2016 at 08:52:50
Everyone seems to have forgotten Beckford's goal against Chelsea a few seasons back. That was a fine solo effort.
Christopher Timmins
11 Posted 13/03/2016 at 10:09:20
Lyndon, the next twelve games will determine the manager’s fate. That’s 10 league games and two trips to Wembley.

Yesterday was one moment where Martinez deserves huge credit, not for any game management plan, but for paying such a high fee for Rom two season ago. It looked over the top back then and Chelsea were deemed to have have been the cleaver one’s at the time. After all how could Jose get it wrong?

There are not two many times during the course of one’s lifetime where one sees a goal as incredible as Rom’s first yesterday. It was a moment for all Blues to cherish in a game of such significance.

How can a team be so good away from home and so prone to throwing away winning positions at home? Maybe, just maybe we turned the corner between 5:30 pm and 7:20 pm yesterday evening. As I have already stated above the next 12 games will determine the manager’s fate.


Ernie Baywood
12 Posted 13/03/2016 at 10:33:52
A spectacular goal of huge significance. Maybe Barry Horne? But that was nowhere near this goal in terms of technique. Arteta against Fiorentina. Gosling's had some nice twists and turns. Steven against Bayern was a thing of beauty.

We've had great goals. We've had significant goals. Struggling to think of any that tick both boxes as well as Rom's.

Sue Brown
13 Posted 13/03/2016 at 11:08:47
I agree with everything said about THAT goal, especially the fact that Rom used not only his skill but his body bulk and determination to get the ball in the back of the net, it’s what we’ve been willing him to do on many occasions.

Surprised Robles hasn’t had a mention for that great save from Willian’s free kick. He’s had a lot of stick on here, rightly so at times, but had little to do yesterday, apart from that save, so credit where it’s due I think.

Graham Mockford
14 Posted 13/03/2016 at 11:31:18
I think the biggest parallel is Sharpy's screamer at Anfield. Big game against the reigning champions. The same feeling of sheer joy and jubilation and thinking fucking hell, did he just do that.

On that occasion we then went onto a winning run and eventually silverware. Here's hoping.

Dominic Tonge
16 Posted 13/03/2016 at 13:53:53
A young Rooney receiving the adulation of Goodison after nonchalantly controlling Tommy Grav’s pass, the touch to leave Lauren flat-footed, then contemptuously curling a vicious shot over the leg of a desperate Sol Campbell into the top corner of the Park End goal past a despairing David Seamen.

Rooney.... "Remember the name" scores to stop the Arsenal unbeaten run and also to become the youngest player to score in the Premier League. A record that had until that point been held by certain Micheal Owen. That’s got to be up there in terms of big goals?

Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 13/03/2016 at 15:12:24
Chris #10, good shout... although Beck's goal didn't have the same significance.

Martin #6, for skill and significance I'd compare it to Giggs in the FA Cup semis.

Sue #13, it was a decent save but nothing special... he just tipped it over the bar.

Anto Byrne
18 Posted 13/03/2016 at 15:49:06
Watford, I'm sure they will get Palace. Epic Norf v Sowf no doubt.
Alan Thompson
19 Posted 13/03/2016 at 15:57:30
Mike Gaynes (#4);

Best I’ve seen and I think a touch better, was Colin Harvey on the night we beat West Brom 2-1 to clinch the title. From memory, he beat about 5 or 6 men from the halfway line as he went into the corner then beat 2 or 3 coming back and while standing sideways to the penalty box and just outside the corner of the penalty area, bent one round past the keeper into the bottom far corner. I remember the WBA keeper, Osbourne, standing there with his arms outstretched asking what he could have done about it.

What a way to win it!

Brian Denton
20 Posted 13/03/2016 at 16:06:12
Alan (19) a cracking goal from West Brom too......

Sarky emoticon. It was 2-0.

Steve Boardman
21 Posted 13/03/2016 at 16:08:33
Alan (#19),

That was the only home game I missed that season - never forgiven myself but here is a link to a the Harvey goal. I just wish I had been there:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPT3hVUvLWA

Alan Thompson
22 Posted 13/03/2016 at 16:12:01
If we both remember it, Brian, then we must both be getting on and you are probably right about the score but it was about an hour after the game that we left the ground after players came out of the showers to say farewell to the crowd which, again from a faulty/old memory, was from the Director’s Box.
Alan McGuffog
23 Posted 13/03/2016 at 16:16:50
Alan... you may be confusing your seasons. That Harvey goal, into the street end was I think a season or two earlier in a four-nil win.

In the 1970 game it was a 25-yard cracker into the Park End.... pissing down. What a night!

Ian Burns
24 Posted 13/03/2016 at 16:50:17
Great report, Lyndon – your last paragraph sums up the situation perfectly. Let’s rejoice this week; wallow in yesterday’s result and let the rest of the season take its course as far as the manager is concerned.

As I said on another thread, I never wanted RM; have posted many times how much I want him replaced; but credit where it is due, he got it absolutely right yesterday and deserves a huge pat on the back – not as big as the pat Rom deserves though!

Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 13/03/2016 at 16:51:30
Alan and Steve... wish I could have seen that one!
Brian Denton
26 Posted 13/03/2016 at 17:04:23
Alan, I'm a mere strip of a lad.......

I was 11 (almost 12) at that game. Started going regularly in 1966 at age of 8. I think I was somewhat spoiled watching Everton in my formative years!

Just want to see us win the Title once more before I pop my clogs.

Dean Edwards
27 Posted 13/03/2016 at 17:18:19
Mike #4. Boxhead Radzinski's last minute winner against Southampton on a sunny Saturday lunchtime. Kept us on course to finish 4th. The stadium exploded in sheer joy.
Chris Corn
28 Posted 13/03/2016 at 19:07:56
Andy Gray's first against Sunderland in 1985 in the 4-1 win at Goodison is my personal favourite but for individuality you will have to go a long way to beat that last night.
Graham Mockford
29 Posted 13/03/2016 at 19:19:19
Dean (#27),

Great goal but different season. It was Moyes's first full season. We finished 7th

Dave Abrahams
30 Posted 13/03/2016 at 19:40:34
Alan McGuffog, thanks for that Alan Thompson had me thinking over Colin Harvey’s goal, couldn’t place it in the game versus WBA but certainly remember the one you described. was Alan Ball captain that night? Brian Labone never played. i remember him coming on at the end in a black overcoat.

There have been many great goals scored in different games: Harvey’s terrific goal versus Man Utd in the semi final at Bolton; Sharpe’s humdinger from the edge of the penalty area v Spurs; Young’s header v Spurs; Davie Hickson with his goal v Man Utd in a cup game; his goal v Aston Villa in another cup game the same season when he ran from just over the half line through the Villa defence...

But I think Lukaku’s is at least the equal,of most of those, the shear power, strength, no mean skill and the finish takes some beating.

Paul Hewitt
31 Posted 13/03/2016 at 19:45:43
Excellent performance and result. Just makes you wonder if only we could do it more often. Season could have been some much better.
Martin Mason
34 Posted 13/03/2016 at 20:03:24
Alan@23, was that the game when we won the league and Harvey dribbled in, back out, back in and whacked in a great shot? Alan Whittle scored the other? It didn't rain in this game though.
Kevin Johnson
36 Posted 13/03/2016 at 20:23:20
I've seen Latchfords 30th goal, Sharpy's screamer against the shite, Steven's stunner against Sunderland, King's rocket against the shite but I would have to say Big Rom's riverdance into the box left me with tears of joy celebrating.

Best goal I’ve seen at the Old Lady .
Mike Gaynes
37 Posted 13/03/2016 at 21:08:48
"Riverdance"... perfect, Kevin.

It had me in tears too.

Ivan Varghese
43 Posted 13/03/2016 at 23:04:50
Defense was incredible, man to man and zonal. Jags and Barry marshalled it well and the cover was seamless. Amazing work rate. Good game, good goals. Aaron Lennon is a dynamo.
Alan Thompson
44 Posted 14/03/2016 at 04:58:47
Martin (#34); That’s how I remember it but I could be wrong. I’m fairly sure it was a Tuesday night game, it didn’t rain and the only film of it at the time was a short clip on Granada TV, Harry Catterick didn’t like the telly giving all our secrets away.

Can’t remember the other goal and would have thought I would have done as Alan Whittle, despite never having met him, is a second cousin. Last time I saw him play was for Melbourne Macedonia against a Tommy Docherty trained Sydney Olympic (Greek) team.

I don’t expect any argument about the greatest of all time; Derek Temple 1966. In the interview after he was asked what he was thinking at the time and (subject to being corrected) he said; "I didn’t know whether to take it up and go round him (Springett) or draw him out and chip him, so I just hit it."

Anthony Garvey
45 Posted 16/03/2016 at 16:01:10
Lyndon, I sat in the upper Bullens, or what was left of our stand. We were separated from the Chelsea fans by a gap of about ten yards. They refused to sit down for the whole of the game and we couldn’t see the near touch line.

Anyway, every time Lukaku got the ball, they chanted "Chelsea reject" and other things... I am convinced this wound him up and boy didn’t he respond. COYB


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