Everton were out to supposedly reinstate pride after collapsing to a
sad and sorry 5-0 defeat in the Stadium of Light.
But if pride was the objective, that's just about thee only thing they
achieved in the first half, because there was certainly no
superiority established as both sides went in goalless at the break.
EVen if Everton edged it, they did not really put any pressure on
the Benfica goal.
Benfcia began to push Everton a bit harder in the second half,
and they looked increasingly menacing with each successive attack.
Di Maria forced Howard to ti the ball over and finally the goal that
was always on the cards came after a poor, poor free-kick from
Bilyaletdinov gave the ball away.
Aimar came on for
and he linked up well in a move finished by Saviola, hammering it past Howard with consummate ease.
Everton were stunned and could not respond, heads dropping
perceptively... what happened to that pride, eh?
The injection of life was to be Jo coming on for Gosling, who had
poor all night. But it had little effect as it wasn't long
before Cardozo doubled the disadvantage, firing home at the far
Kieran Agard came on and had two good chances in the last 5 mins,
one forcing the keeper to save, wand then from a great following
corner he headed over. The best chances of the game coming
from an untried reserve.
A very, very disappointing
performance and result. Everton given a footballing lesson in the
second half by a far superior attack-minded team. Everton cling on
to second place in the Group L, and are by no means guaranteed
Everton get a crack at immediate revenge over Benfica for the 5-0 mauling they suffered in the Estadio da Luz a fortnight ago as the Portuguese giants come to Goodison Park for the fourth game in Group I.
Benfica assumed pole position in the group on goal difference following that handsome win in Lisbon over a severely depleted Everton side but the Blues can retake command with victory under the Goodison lights for what will be the biggest European fixture at the Grand Old Lady since the ill-fated second leg against Fiorentina two seasons ago.
Still without Mikel Arteta for the foreseeable future and with no sign that Steven Pienaar's return is imminent, David Moyes will again be scratching around for some midfield inspiration to get the job done against a team that looked every inch a Champions League side last time out.
The manager's only new injury concern is striker Louis Saha who has niggling calf complaint sustained in the Carling Cup match at Tottenham which restricted him to a substitute's appearance against Aston Villa a the weekend.
John Heitinga and Lucas Neill are ineligible again, while Leon Osman continues to be sidelined by an anlke injury but Tony Hibbert is back in contention after sitting out against Villa because of a flu virus.
Yakubu is likely to start as the lone striker and Dan Gosling could come in on the right of midfield in Heitinga's absence, leaving the rest of the midfield unchanged. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov will play once more before his three-game domestic suspension starts this weekend and Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell will probably round out the rest of that middle quintet.
The Blues have plenty of incentive for this one and wounded pride will surely fuel a raucous atmosphere among the Goodison faithful as well. If they can benefit from Joseph Yobo and Leighton Baines' presence in defence, keep it tight at the back and play with some patience going forward, then the odds are in their favour.
A Benfica performance like the one they put on in Athens last month would be a nice bonus, too! The Portuguese lost 1-0 to AEK Athens and a similar win for Everton would be fantastic.
May appear here later
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