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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
League Cup
 Wednesday 23 January 2008; 8:00pm
Half Time: 0-0
 J Cole (69') 
Attendance: 37,086
SF 2nd Leg
Referee: Steve Bennett

Match Summary

Manuel Fernandes returns to Goodison for his second debut, part of a five-man midfield that does not include Phil Neville! Hibbert is on the bench (not quite fit enough to start)... No Ballack or Lampard for Chelsea but Shawn Wright-Phillips is declared fit, and Sidwell plays in front of a massive and boisterous crowd filling Goodison Park ... except for away area where Chelsea failed to fill their allocation.  Everton's nemesis, Anelka, as the focus of fear...

Chelsea is the only Premier League team never to have succumbed to Everton under David Moyes, and the loss of that own-goal at the very end of the first leg are only two of the many crucial factors riding on this game, all contributing to the absolutely fantastic build-up atmosphere and at Goodison. 

Everton started in determined fashion, getting right in Chelsea's faces, AJ already running down balls in the first minute.  But Chelsea responded and Jagielka made a vital block on an early SWP shot.  Everton probed in turn, Fernandes playing superbly, but Chelsea advanced again and Bellitti had a shot that curved around the angle.

Everton's first corner came on 9 mins and Lescott's header was parried off the line by Cech.  Both Carsley and Osman were keen to shoot from distance but their shots were easily blocked as the Chelsea defence solidified to counter Everton's threats, the aerial route into the Chelsea area not really paying off. Meanwhile, Chelsea's rare attacks were more direct, Anelka fortunately offside on a superb through-ball from Malouda. And Anelka continued to be caught offside...

Johnson was the next to have a pop, but too far out, too weak, and off target. Arteta was caught late by Makelele but there was a surprising lack of attack on the incoming bomb from Arteta. But first in the book was Lee Carsley for going in rather robustly on SWP.

By the second quarter of the game. Chelsea had successfully taken the bite out of the Blues's early play, and were taking an increasing control of midfield.  And when Everton did gain possession, their build-up play from the back was far too laboured, the ball now being lost before Everton could get it close to the Chelsea area.  Some change in approach was required but could Everton do that so early in the game?

At the Gwladys Street End, Malouda threatened again after Chelsea advanced on the break. Andy Johnson finally got more of a sniff, turning well onto a ball in from Arteta but he went wide and drove into the side netting. Everton's second corner, won well by Neville, was easily claimed by Cech.

Just the a couple of sniffs of goal for Everton in the first half, before most of their standard attacking options were successfully neutralised by a disciplined and all-too-effective defensive machine that effectively thwarted seemingly every avenue of attack.  It was a poor strategy really to rely on aerial delivery with only AJ up front, Cahill effectively constrained in midfield, and Lescott only available on set-pieces. How about Vaughan and Vic in the second half, Davey? Give them something to think about!!!!

In the first minute of the second half. Anelka was gifted a plumb shot by a dreadful Valente block but he hit the bar with Howard stranded.  Arrrgh!!!  That let-off seemed to brighten Everton and their attacks carried a little bit more intent, but still penetration of the Chelsea area was virtually non-existent. and they came back at the home side with a vengeance in the next 5 minutes, sensing Everton weakness that was there to be exploited.

But Everton somehow held firm, as Darling Davey dithered over what change he could make that would enable his side to tip the balance.  One goal down still on aggregate, Everton simply MUST go for it at some point. Another corner on 57 mins finally got the crowd behind the team again, with Belletti and Johnson clashing.

It was a fantastic ball back form Arteta that set up Neville for a superb strike on goal but it was blocked away. Everton maintained the pressure as Arteta won a free-kick on the right and after an amazing pinball sequence that say Jagielka's deft flick blocked away by on the line again by Cech.

Johnson was crowded out and could not get his shot in, while Lescott dispossessed Anelka brilliantly in the Everton area as the pace of the game attained fever pitch. At the other end, Osman did superbly to dispossess Anelka. Petr Cech dropped an Arteta free-kick and somehow conned the ref to give a foul as Everton were poised to score.

The stream of Everton free kicks continued, with each one thankfully showing something different in terms of invention, with the possibility of a goal looking that bit more likely. True to type, though, it was not until the 69th minute that Moyes finally thought about making his move to bring on Anichebe ... just as a great long ball to Joe Cole is hammered into the Park End goal.  Game Over!

Carsley was sacrificed for Anichebe and the mountain-climbing expedition began in earnest.  Why try to come back from one down when you can do it the hard way from two down?

Johnson got in with an excellent shot that Cech parried just over the bar.  Osman got a shot on that was deflected and Cech saved. Fernandes was booked for frustration more than anything.  Vaughan came on for Manuel Fernandes who had played well on his second debut, with just 12 mins remaining. 

Ref Bennett started booking more Everton players as the prize visibly shrank into the Goodison night. It became clear this really was something more than simply a mountain to climb.  With five minutes left and two goals still needed, it was Everton who were looking tired while the Chelsea players were diving in for every 50/50 ball.

Everton tried everything they could think of for the final 10 mins (+4 added) but came closer to conceding than scoring.  In the end, the whistle came as something of a relief, with Everton comprehensively out-classed.

On a night when Moyes needed to break the mould and come up with some determined attacking tactics to produce a famous victory in a magical atmosphere at Goodison, he played the game exactly to type, relying on the tried, tested and true, rather than taking the risks this one-off game required.

Many will be happy we got this far, satisfied that Everton played well and put in a spirited display, but for me, like so many times under Moyes, it is another case of so near and yet so far. I suppose we could be generous and put it down as "another learning experience" ... Sad really. There was a real opportunity missed here.

Michael Kenrick

Everton fall short in Wembley quest

The pre-match hype, the momentum built up since October, the hopes, the dreams, the determination to end 13 barren years without a trophy — or even a visit to a major cup final — all fizzled out for the time being on an evening of heart-breaking frustration at Goodison Park as Everton came up against a brick wall and a stark reality check to their aspirations of cracking the dominance of the big three.

The deficit from the first leg was a single goal and one goal over 120 minutes for a team that had failed to score in only four games all season would have been enough for the Blues tonight if it had come to that. But for long periods of this game the breakthrough felt agonisingly out of reach as their attempts to pick a way through Chelsea's luminous yellow wall were constantly repelled. And when they were picked apart by a moment of quality from a team that looked a cut above throughout, it was clear that the game was up even though there still 21 minutes to go.

The rousing Goodison atmosphere greeted the players as they emerged from the tunnel for the Old Lady's biggest game in a decade and with Tottenham having led the way with their 5-1 demolition of an admittedly under-strength Arsenal 24 hours earlier, hopes were high that the Blues could cause an upset of their own and beat Chelsea for the first time in seven years.

David Moyes was, of course, shorn of his Africa Cup of Nations trio of Yakubu, Yobo and Pieneer but Avram Grant's side were depleted themselves with Essien, Kalou, Drogba, Obi Mikel, Lampard, and Terry all missing but Everton were soon to realise the kind of srtength in depth that Russian billions can buy.

There was to be no repeat of Spurs' explosive start to their home leg, though, and despite a positive start by the Blues, the pattern for the match was established fairly early on. Shaun Wright-Phillips — who wasn't even expected to play after limping out of Chelsea's Premier League win at Birmingham on Saturday — had a 3rd-minute shot deflected wide from 12 yards out and with Lee Carsley backing off, Juliano Belletti curled one narrowly over.

While at the other end, Joleon Lescott was picked out by Mikel Arteta's corner and the defender's header was blocked on the line by Petr Cech with Tim Cahill inches away with a lunging attempt to nod it in. Chelsea were comfortable despite Everton's attempts to exert some pressure and although Manuel Fernandes, a somewhat surprising starter in a five-man midfield, was exhibiting some nice touches and Arteta was clearly in the mood, there was little end product.

Andy Johnson, ploughing the lone furrow in attack, finished a patient build-up — and the home side's early storm — by firing a couple of yards wide from just outside the box. Chelsea then started to exert some disconcerting control on proceedings and the Blues started to lose their way a little. Nicolas Anelka tested Tim Howard with a low effort, Carsley was booked for clattering through Wright-Phillips and Claude Makalele nearly punished Nuno Valente for a horrendous pass by firing over. Meanwhile, back down the Park End, Johnson executed a text-book striker's turn onto Arterta' smart through-ball but his shot was deflected wide.

All in all, though, Everton had had their early fire efficiently extinguished by a highly organised, experienced and resilient Chelsea who had clearly identified Moyes's chief weapons and set out to nullify them. Cahill was double marked for Phil Neville's long throws, likewise Arteta any time he threatened to get going down the right flank. Time and again, he was boxed in by two players and prevented from acting as the Blues' crucial playmaker and as Fernandes betrayed his lack of match sharpness with a series of mis-placed passes it seemed that the necessary quality to break the Londoners down was missing.

Chelsea when they attacked did so quickly and in numbers, thanks to the speed of Anelka, Joe Cole and Wright-Phillips. Everton, on the other hand, couldn't seem to make the ball stick going forward, with Johnson doing plenty of running but getting short shrift from Alex and Ricardo Carvalho. Neither Leon Osman nor Cahill really ever got into the game so the 4-1-4-1 formation was more or less dead in the water in terms of attacking effectivenes.

On that basis and hindsight having perfect vision, half-time would have been the time to mix it up and change things but Moyes no doubt still harboured hopes of his starting XI being able to nick one and transform the tie while also being wary of conceding early in the second half and steepening the mountain his side had to climb.

The manager kept things as they were for the restart but his side came within an inch or two of going 3-1 down on aggregate when Anelka cracked a shot off the face of the crossbar after good work by Cole. But, slowly but surely, Everton started to mount some pressure on the visitors and when Areta slid a short corner into the path of Neville, he drove goalwards and forced Cech into a parrying save. The loose ball eluded the closest blue shirts but eventually fell to Fernandes but his effort was also blocked.

A minute later, Arteta won a free kick in a dangerous area on the right flank and when Osman scuffed his shot having been met the Spaniard's fizzed ball across goal, Jagielka reacted quickly to flick it on with his heel only to see Cech make save with his foot.

Again Chelsea had weathered the storm and 10 minutes later had put the game out of Everton's reach by hitting them with the kind of long-ball sucker-punch that proved so effective for Arsenal here last month. Florent Malouda had time near the halfway line to pick out Cole in acres of space with an angled ball into the box and the England man took one touch before burying it past Howard.

Moyes had been contemplating a change in personnel for a while and the goal was the catalyst to immediately bring on Victor Anichebe for Carsley. But it was Johnson to whom the next chance fell when he latched onto Neville's excellent pass but Cech was again equal to it, pushing his shot over the bar.

Fernandes was withdrawn with 11 minutes left in favour of Vaughan but while he did add an extra dimension, he wasn't given any more change from the visiting defence than anybody else. Time ticked on and the Blues just looked out of ideas and increasingly unlikely to pick their way past Chelsea's rearguard. Four minutes of added time petered out to a heart-breaking confirmation that as far as the Blues have come since the dark days of the 1990s, the monied elite on the other side of that glass ceiling are sickeningly out of our league.

It would have been fantastic to have proved the doubters wrong, to have rammed the words of Giles Smith, the Times journalist who belittled Everton on the Official Chelsea site after the first leg,m back down his throat, to have backed up Martin Samuel's assertion in the same paper than, pound for pound, Moyes has built the best side in the top flight. After Spurs' accomplishments in the other semi, it all seemed possible but for the Blues to progress, it needed them to be at their best, to pull off a top-drawer performance despite not having their best XI at their disposal.

Sadly, they fell quite a distance short of their best moments this season and, in truth, with Arteta pretty much shackled, Fernandes and Osman off-key, and Cahill barely involved in the parts of the pitch that matter, they never showed they had the imagination, the guile or the craft to make the breakthrough. Quite simply, they weren't good enough and the warning signs for the remainder of their Uefa Cup campaign have now come with three consecutive cup defeats in the space of three weeks.

Focus will, of course, turn to the Premier League where, having moved into fourth place, the Blues are still very well placed to break into the Champions League places again. The next fixture is against a rejuvenated Spurs, though, a team that does have talent in abundance, though they're no Chelsea. Moyes has 10 days to refocus the minds of his players and ensure that there is no fallout from this disappointment... and there's a week left to bolster his squad, something that might have become a bit more urgent on this evidence.

Lyndon Lloyd

Match Preview

While Everton have been efficiently extending their 100% record in the Premier League since the turn of the year to three games and moving into the top four of the table with solid if unspectacular victories over Manchester City and Wigan Athletic, one fixture has been at the back of everyone's minds and that's the Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea.

The Blues may be 2-1 down following the gut-wrenching finale to the first game at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago but they and their fans know that they're one terrific performance away from Wembley and a shot at a first Everton trophy for 13 years. And few places can be as daunting for opposition teams as Goodison Park under the floodlights when something big as at stake.

In order to make history, though, Everton need to overcome some of their own recent history against Chelsea — not to mention to keep fending off their hoodoo in this competition — and beat the West Londoners for the first time in seven seasons.

And, of course, they set about their task without three first-choice players in the form of Joseph Yobo, Steven Pienaar and Yakubu, the goalscorer from the first leg, who are all on African Cup of Nations duty. Thankfully, though, the return of Leon Osman and Manuel Fernandes and the scoring form of Andy Johnson will give David Moyes options as he mulls his starting line-up.

Few would envy Moyes the task of picking that first XI; the five-man midfield with Tim Cahill supporting the lone striker has worked wonders with Yakubu up front but hasn't been quite so effective with Johnson, the weekend win at Wigan excepted perhaps. And Victor Anichebe nor James Vaughan haven't always excelled on the occasions this season where they have been handed starting berths, having their most explosive impact coming off the bench.

Nevertheless, the manager no doubt expects a tussle given the cut-and-thrust nature of the second 45 minutes of the first leg and may opt, therefore, for Anichebe's physical presence to supplement the pace of AJ and use Vaughan in the second period once Chelsea have been worn down a bit.

Not having yet seen him in first-team action since arriving back on loan, it's unlikely that Moyes will choose this game to give Manuel Fernandes his first start. Then again, the temptation to fight flair with flair may lead him to the Portuguese midfielder after all. It's a hard one to predict.

Mikel Areta: Suspended for the first leg, his artistry was sorely missed

What is not hard to predict is that the Goodison crowd will be up for this one. The yearning for a Wembley date — having by-passed the Millennium Stadium years altogether! — among Evertonians is palpable and they will be aware of some people's sentiment that now is the ideal time to be facing Chelsea.

Avram Grant will be missing eight first-team regulars, either to injury or the Africa Cup of Nations. Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Michael Essien and John Obi Mikel are all on duty in Ghana, while the likes of John Terry, Andriy Shevchenko and Frank Lampard remain sidelined with medium to long-term injuries... along with Shaun Wright-Phillips, the Blue's tormentor from the first leg, who is ruled out with bruised ankle ligaments. Nevertheless, they've won six on the bounce in all competitions, which merely underscores the tremendous strength in depth that a Russian oil billionaire can buy you!

It promises to be a thunderous atmosphere and a cracking game which offers Everton the perfect occasion on which to finally beat one of the so-called "big four" this season. A 1-0 lead after extra-time would be enough to send the Blues through on the away goals rule but it would be great not to have to wait that long and win it decisively in normal time by a couple of clear goals. Come on, you Blues!

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Stats

May appear here later

Steve Flanagan

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EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Neville (c) :82'
  Valente :80'
  Carsley :25' (68'Anichebe)
  Fernandes :65'  (78' Vaughan)
  Subs not used
  Baines (injured)
  Turner (injured)
  Yakubu (AFCoN)
  Yobo (AFCoN)
  Pienaar (AFCoN)
  Boyle (loan)
  Jutkiewicz (loan)
  Vidarsson (loan)

CHELSEA (4-4-2)
  J Cole (82' Pizzarro)
  Malouda (90' A Cole)
  Anelka (93' Beh-Haim)
  Subs not used

Carling Cup Scores
Tuesday 22 January 2008
Tottenham (1) 5-1 (1) Arsenal
Wednesday 23 January 2008
Everton (1) 0-1 (2) Chelsea


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