The Everton side showed two changes, from Blackburn, with Magaye Gueye chosen ahead of Victor Anichebe and Stracqualursi replacing an out of sorts Louis Saha. Everton old boy Andy Johnson started for the visitors and former Toffees Philippe Senderos and Simon Davies made the Fulham bench.
The in-form Clint Dempsey had an attempt for Fulham within the 100 seconds. Thankfully, for Everton, his effort cleared the bar. The opening 10 minutes were low-key with neither side fashioning a chance. Fulham took the lead, around the 15-minute mark, via a penalty. John Heitinga made a good block as Fulham got in behind. The ball struck his arm; the penalty was a harsh decision, as there was no intent. Murphy sent Howard the wrong way with ease to put the visitors ahead.
Everton responded well, as Fulham survived a series of corners. A Shane Duffy header went wide when he ought to have scored. Gueye had a shot blocked, Cahill forced a save from David Stockdale and Duffy had a goal bound effort cleared, as Everton cranked up the pressure
Everton began turning the screw and levelled just before the half hour mark. After creating space on the right, Landon Donovan fired in a left footed cross. Stracqualursi was on hand to nod the ball into the far corner. The goal meant a lot to the Argentine; he seemed very emotional during his celebration. The goal was just reward for his tireless display that should earn him a run in the team. Marouane Fellaini fired narrowly over, after a driving run, as he started to dominate in midfield.
Fulham were surrendering possession easily under Everton pressure. Tim Cahill and Stracqualursi lead from the front, as the team worked together closing Fulham down. The Toffees are at their best pressuring the ball and closing the opposition down. Too often, this season, those traits have been missing from Everton?s play. A tame Bryan Ruiz effort was all the visitors mustered after Everton?s equaliser. Stracqualursi fired wide as the first half ended.
Everton had responded well to going behind. Duffy was again impressing, especially in the air. John Heitinga is helping the youngster and the pairing has developed into good partnership. The use of Magaye Gueye in front of him was stifling Leighton Baines' attacking threat. The young Frenchman has potential but it is clearly not in a left midfield role. David Moyes needs to learn his lessons from the Bilyaletdinov saga.
Fulham started the second half brightly with Ruiz proving adept at finding space behind the Everton midfield. Ruiz was Fulham's best player and created their next opening. Dempsey wastefully headed Ruiz?s driven cross into the Park End. Johnson forced a low save from Tim Howard and at the other end; Stracqualursi had an effort from distance after out-muscling Murphy.
Good build up saw Darron Gibson in space on the edge of the box. His cross-shot evaded everyone as the statuesque blue shirts watched the ball flash across the six-yard box. Gueye made way for Royston Drenthe. Drenthe's introduction gave Everton a threat down both flanks.
Donovan tried his look from distance but the ball drifted wide. The American was involved as Everton took the lead. Fellaini met his cross and the header was too good for Stockdale, as it landed in the far corner. Goodison erupted and the fans found their voices - an all too rare occasion at Goodison Park, in recent months.
Cahill almost added to the lead, his header forcing a very good stop from Stockdale. Chris Baird, under pressure, nearly put the rebound in his own net with the ball landing on the roof of the net. With 10 minutes left, Stracqualursi received a deserved standing ovation as Anichebe took his place. Everton saw the game out quite well in the end. Ruiz had an effort off target as Fulham struggled to find a response.
The final whistle sounded and Everton had booked their place in the next round with a positive display. It was noticeable how Stracqualursi's work rate allowed Cahill to be more involved. The pair shared the workload in terms of closing down. Alongside a willing runner, Cahill was much improved.
Heitinga produced another composed display. The Dutchman warrants a permanent place at centre back. Duffy is ungainly in possession but defensively, it was another accomplished display. The most refreshing aspect was that Baines had a quiet game and, for once, it did not matter. Phil Neville got forward well despite his crossing letting him down.
Donovan was a threat and set up both goals. The only criticism is that he does not beat his man enough. Gibson was again resourceful in possession. He tired late on but kept chasing and closing down; something that will endear him to Moyes. Fellaini was a class above all else on the pitch. At times, the Belgian appears to be running the midfield singlehandedly.
A much more committed and improved display that should set the tone for the forthcoming games. A tricky fixture list awaits and Everton will need more displays like this, if they are to climb up that league table.
Manchester City are the visitors on Tuesday with a City win a formality for many but, with the players and crowd fired up, you never know.
Howard 6; Neville 6, Duffy 7, Heitinga 8, Baines 6; Donovan 7, Gibson 7, Fellaini 9, Gueye 6; Cahill 7, Stracqualursi 8.
Subs: Drenthe 7, Anichebe 6.
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565 Posted 28/01/2012 at 20:54:43
Neville can't cross, he can't tackle and is very limited. When Coleman is fit, he should be put at right back so we can attack down both sides of the pitch.
568 Posted 28/01/2012 at 21:25:17
I saw Neville giving heaps to a section of the crowd, were they ours or visitors? What was that all about?
571 Posted 28/01/2012 at 22:06:32
575 Posted 28/01/2012 at 23:09:55
587 Posted 29/01/2012 at 00:11:58
I coached an amateur team to a regional cup final. My best player was having a nightmare and through his carelessness we went two down. Because his replacement had little to offer but enthusiasm, I resisted the temptation to sub my star man...
With ten minutes remaining, another of his mistakes put us three down and I finally did what I should have done much earlier. His replacement's guts and determination lifted his team mates and they fought back with 2 goals. Only the clock beat us yet I blame my indecision for letting the lads down.
Although being worlds apart, I see Moyes as having the same dilemma but he must shake himself out of it. Moral of this little true story is: if something is not working, change it before it is too late.
591 Posted 29/01/2012 at 01:50:58
And if Pip don't like it he can lump it, or improve, or fuck off whatever is easiest and stop being so precious.
At 35 his best on field days are behind him. As players, especially footballers ( and boxers ), we all think we've got one good one ( game, fight, season ) left in us. We all tell ourselves lies, we think we can still do it, use the head to save the legs, it's all about experience, nouse etc.
Yes we know there is slow decline, but that's for others, I'm fit, it doesn't apply to me. But it does Pip, especially if you didn't have that much skill to compensate with in the first place. There's no discrace in being the worst player in a very good team, been there done that.
22yrs 26, 26-30, why do yo think SAF let you go? 30-35, each of these are the slow decline years ( nods from Cahill and Gravesen ) and at the end of each slow decline plateau the is a drop off down to the next level... you've just had yours, admit it, move on, concentrate on the badges, you've done your dash and been very well paid for it out of our pockets, so if you are shite we will let you know, after all we help pay the piper and we don't like your tune.
Thanks for the efforts, especially the pen Vs Chelsea, you are ( one of the ) weakest link, goodbye.
606 Posted 29/01/2012 at 09:08:54
I suppose that's part of the problem. I've mixed feelings because I like the professionalism he has brought with him and the organisational skills he brings but if it is instead of quality( rather than in addition to) then it's time to move the qualities he retains and apply them off the pitch, im sure he will still add value to the club by coaching.
613 Posted 29/01/2012 at 10:49:10
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