Everton's Achilles heel exposed again

12/12/2015  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Norwich City 1 - 1 Everton

Romelu Lukaku matched Bob Latchford's record of scoring in seven successive games but it wasn't enough to earn the points

Everton threw away another lead and with it two more points as their defensive vulnerability at set-pieces was punished by Norwich City at Carrow Road.

The Toffees went into the half-time interval a goal to the good but, having dominated the first period, were left ruing a number of missed chances and the form of goalkeeper Declan Rudd that prevented them racking up an unassailable lead.

Romelu Lukaku had put Everton ahead after a quarter of an hour when he and Gerard Deulofeu combined for this 12th Premier League goal of the season. The Spaniard's wicked delivery from the right flank picked the Belgian out brilliantly and Lukaku made no mistake with a clse-range header at the far post.

That precipiated a surge of attacking football from the visitors and a slew of chances but Rudd's anticipation twice allowed him to foil Arouna Kone after the Ivorian had been put into the clear, Leighton Baines almost marked his first start of the campaign with a goal but fired a right-foot shot off the upright and Lukaku missed by inches with the last shot of the first half.

With Everton in irresistable form going forward, the stage seemed to be set for more chances in the second period but a Norwich equaliser within two minutes of the restart changed the dynamic of the contest completely. A corner from the Canaries' right was floated to the back post where an unchallenged header was blocked on the line by Ross Barkley and Wes Hoolahan pounced to force it over the line.

The Blues' control of the game had been lost and it became a more open encounter, with Norwich's Robbie Brady seeing a shot deflected over the bar and Baines rolling a teasing ball across the face of Rudd's goal but no blue jerseys were on hand to tap home.

Roberto Martinez attempted to reclaim the initiative by replacing Deulofeu with Kevin Mirallas with 21 minutes to and then withdrawing Barkley in favour of Darron Gibson but it was Norwich who should have scored next when Hoolahan's backheel presented Cameron Jerome with a gilt-edged chance in front of goal but he somehow blasted it over the crossbar.

Everton did carve out one more clear-cut opportunity when Gareth Barry popped up on the edge of the six-yard box but once more Rudd was off his line smartly to make the save and Martinez's men had to be content with a third successive draw and another chance to gain ground on the top six spurned.

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