"If you could sum up Everton in two games, it would be those two"
What a difference a week makes. From what was easily their nadir this season, Everton dug deep and rose to one of their best displays of 2012-13 to once more sink Manchester City at Goodison Park. With a rousing, determined, tireless performance, they snuffed out the Champions' threat, barely batting an eyelid when Steven Pienaar was sent off for a second bookable offence with half an hour of the contest still to go, and sealed the victory with one of the most welcome goals the Grand Old Lady has seen in years.
Evertonians were rightly fearful of just how much damage had been done to the team's psyche by their unfathomable collapse against Wigan. The sense of frustration and despair, coupled with the soul-searching and recriminations about the future of Everton and who is at fault for the club coming up short once again, had been palpable all week but, just as they did after last season's FA Cup disaster with an amazing 4-4 draw at Old Trafford, the players regrouped and delivered the stunning riposte. That day they effectively ended Manchester United's title hopes; today they crushed City's.
It was clear from the very first whistle that the Blues were up for the challenge of this one. To a man, their every move radiated commitment and determination, purpose and energy — again, the contrast with last Saturday could not have been starker — with Marouane Fellaini, in particular, embodying redemption. Indeed, it was that passion to atone for a dreadful personal showing against the Latics that saw him end up — harshly as it turned out — in referee Lee Probert's book after just seven minutes for a crunching, ball-first, sliding tackle on James Milner. It was the first of a number of abysmal decisions by an official showing few signs of improving and it meant a two-match ban for Fellaini for reaching 10 cards for the season.
Probert's incompetence was matched five minutes later by his assistant when Kevin Mirallas latched onto Leon Osman's header and lashed a fantastic, first-time shot into the roof of the net, only to have the goal disallowed for offside. Television replays would show that the Belgian was clearly level with the last defender and, once more at Goodison, the benefit of the doubt was not given to the attacking team.
Whatever Moyes had said to his team in the days and hours leading up to the game had clearly had its effect because Everton utterly dominated the first quarter of the game. Less a case of the opposition playing badly, City just weren't given a moment to compose themselves as Blue shirts chased, swarmed and harried them over every blade of grass. Save for a brief flurry after the 23rd minute when Carlos Tevez and then Edin Dzeko, twice, tried to test Jan Mucha with fairly tame efforts, Roberto Mancini's side just weren't able to make any inroads into the Blues defence in the first half.
Instead, it was the home side doing almost all the attacking and they went ahead just past the half-hour mark through a sublime strike by Osman. Not for the first or last time — the little Irishman absolutely owned the Serb all afternoon — Seamus Coleman tormented Alexander Kolorov down the Blues' right before laying the ball back to Osman who found the top corner from 25-plus yards with a stunning, bending shot off the outside of his left boot. Joe Hart could do nothing but admire it as it arced away from him and nestled in the back of the net; a beautiful way to notch your 50th goal for Everton.
Victor Anichebe, starting in place of Nikica Jelavic and rewarding his manager's faith in him with a beast of a display running the line up front, ended another excellent Everton move by smashing wide from the angle after Darron Gibson had collected a one-two pass from Coleman. And Mirallas came very close to doubling the lead just before half time when Coleman — who else? — floated a cross to the back post but the Belgian forward's header bounced off Kolo Toure's head and over the crossbar after Hart had flapped the ball into his path.
As they had to, Mancini's men emerged the from the interval with a bit more purpose but it was Everton who had the first chance of the second period, Anichebe just failing to get purchase on a good Leighton Baines' cross. Still, City sounded a couple of warning bells soon afterwards when Milner got goalside of Baines at the back post and set up Javi Garcia in front of goal but he couldn't convert and Gareth Barry flicked the resulting corner across the six-yard box and the ball just eluded Nastasic.
If the match needed a turning point from City's point of view, it arrived with just shy of an hour played. Pienaar, who had already been booked for an over-exuberant challenge in the first half, went in high to a 50-50 challenge with Garcia and caught the Spaniard on the shin with his studs. Referee Probert initially seemed unperturbed by the midfielder's three-roll histrionics but after being surrounded by claret shirts and being remonstrated with by Tevez, he reached for his pocket and flashed the South African a red card.
There can't have been many Evertonians who felt that all the team's hard work to that point — including that of Pienaar who had been excellent up to that point, particularly in breaking up opposition play (not normally his strong suit) — was in danger of being undone. Surely a resurgent City, even without the likes of Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure, would have enough to break down the Blues' resistance with a man advantage?
That they didn't was down to Everton's simple willingness not to fold — or even retreat into an entirely defensive posture — and some inspired goalkeeping by Mucha who pulled off a double save in the 67th minute to deny Milner from close range after he's only been able to palm Tevez's effort into the Englishman's path.
And he did even better in the 79th minute when Pablo Zabaleta popped on the right side of the area and bore down on goal but the Slovak 'keeper came haring off his line to close down the angle and blocked the shot behind with his arm.
In between, in what was arguably the only questionable move he made all game, Moyes had withdrawn Mirallas in favour of Steven Naismith with 20 minutes to go. Granted, though he had been his usual enterprising and effervescent self, not much had come off for the Belgian (apart, of course, from his superb "goal"), he was, nevertheless providing an outlet for the 10-man Blues that was keeping the City defence on their toes. With Naismith, on paper, offering only marginally better protection defensively, it seemed an odd move but it would prove significant deep in stoppage time.
Having benefited from that offside decision in the first half, escaped a penalty for a blatant hold on Fellaini in the area, and Pienaar's dismissal in the second, City couldn't argue that they'd been given a raw deal but any bleating they would do after the final whistle would ultimately concern Probert's mystifying decision in the 86th minute. A Tevez shot from distance stuck the raised arms of Fellaini a yard inside the area and Goodison's collective heart stopped when the referee blew his whistle. Instead of pointing to the spot, however, the official placed the ball for a free kick a yard outside the box! Kolorov fired the ensuing shot into the wall.
With the clock running down, that appeared to be that but there would be one more twist in the tale in stoppage time, and a wonderful one it would be, too, for Jelavic who had replaced the ceaselessly industrious Anichebe with a minute of normal time to go. Naismith's sliding tackle on Gael Clichy diverted the ball into the path of Fellaini and he set off on a giraffine gallop with Jelavic streaking forward to his right in support.
The Belgian laid the ball to the side at the ideal moment and with the defender in front of him back-pedalling, the Croatian jinked to his left and swept the ball into the top corner with the help of a slight deflection off his marker's shin before tearing his shirt off in unbridled joy as he ran towards the Gwladys Street end. He was mobbed by his teammates in a clear illustration of what the end of his four-month League goal drought means to all concerned and the points were sealed.
Fans will rightly question where on earth the team and spirit they witnessed today was against Wigan and while this handsome 2-0 win won't erase the pain or all of the anger at last weekend's capitulation, it does make a huge statement about the players' attitude and it demonstrates that Everton's Premier League season is by no means over.
Because if they can maintain this level of performance — or something close to it — for the remainder of the campaign and, crucially, break their duck under Moyes at one or two of Stamford Bridge, Anfield or the Emirates, then European football is not out of the question for next season. Still plenty to be decided even if they are to achieve what seemed impossible just seven days ago and finish fifth — not least the manager's future and the size of the squad — but being a Blue feels so much better tonight and that's down to an immense display by Everton's players.
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967 Posted 16/03/2013 at 20:53:12
968 Posted 16/03/2013 at 20:55:39
I don't want to hear anymore about tired legs, it's about having the right mental attitude. They didn't have it last week and they did today. Only downside was the substitution of Mirallas: another Moyes puzzler. Still at least it wasn't Neville.:-)
969 Posted 16/03/2013 at 21:02:44
975 Posted 16/03/2013 at 21:24:47
Aptly composed post as always Lyndon.
I personally thought Gibson was MOTM as he covered every blade of grass on the pitch but any of the starting 11 could have been considered it was that sort of game where the team, the supoorters and the manager came as one.
Tonight the brandy is for enjoyment unlike last week where it was for medicinal purposes.
977 Posted 16/03/2013 at 21:29:41
Whatever our ability, or lack of it, that attitude EVERY week would do me.
Victor for example, he didn't score today but I'd have him every week if I could be sure he'd put that effort in EVERY week.
It is the inconsistency that so often frustrates.
984 Posted 16/03/2013 at 21:33:06
As for today, well, what can you say? I never seen that coming before kick-off. But only 10 mins in, I said to the lads "We'll win this!" Even when we went down to 10 men, I still felt confident and I'm the eternal pessimist — and let's face it, we played 12 men today.
Some of that moron's decisions were scandalous. I don't know how many times that dog Toure went through the back of Anichebe. But he kept letting it go. I'll hold judgement on Pienaar's red until I've seen it on MotD.
As for Milner, what a animal. What possessed them to pay £26 mil for him? He's shite. Anichebe was brilliant today and bullied Toure all game; his all-round game deserved a goal there.
Coleman absolutely brilliant. Mucha magnificent. Tim who? Gibson superb. Pienaar before the red: best game since the turn of the year. Everyone played their part in a great team performance.
City could argue they might have had a penalty... yeah right, but Mirallas had a good goal disallowed according to the texts I got (off Reds by the way) while I was at the game.
A great day made all the better by THEM getting fucked at Soton. My oh my, the wine tastes good tonight. Well down on the 2nd bottle waiting for MotD and starting to feel it looks like the 3rd could get cracked.
It'll be the spare room for me, so fucking what. Sorry for the language but the Vin de Pays is playing havoc. Only disappointment today – my son had a double: Osman 1st goal and 2-1. I told him to do - 0 but he won't listen. Still, what a day.... And night!
985 Posted 16/03/2013 at 21:54:20
988 Posted 16/03/2013 at 22:03:31
As per the twitter quote just about sums us up!
A perfect game, although blatant penalty against Fellaini.
Our record against the champions is outstanding.
991 Posted 16/03/2013 at 22:20:47
Stops an advantage to us with Kev one on one with Joe Hart, to give us a foul, yet later, gives them the advantage, nothing happens, and then gives them the fould as well. Unreal.
Perfectly good goal disallowed, Milner with three bookable fouls, doesnt get a single booking.
Anyway, awesome performance, nine more of them please.
994 Posted 16/03/2013 at 22:45:44
006 Posted 16/03/2013 at 23:26:12
016 Posted 16/03/2013 at 23:40:01
051 Posted 17/03/2013 at 02:42:02
Must be something about Moyes intimidates Mancini. Must be. What else explains a manager who has way more talent available having so poor a record against one Club while kicking the shit out of all others. For years.
Moyes is going. Too bad, but he is. All the speculation on his next job. Me, I think he'l take a year off, having been at it all these years, year-round, trying to make something happen with this pathetic lot owns the Club.
But if a moneybags club comes in for him, it has to be ManCity, no?
Anyway, COYB. 3rd place is up for grabs.
Must add, Coleman this time next season will be in any conversation about best RB in the EPL. 2 years from now, he'll be the measuring stick.
083 Posted 17/03/2013 at 08:27:28
Only complaint from yesterday was the referees performance, shocking. City can point to the Fellaini handball but when you consider the Fellaini challenge that was fair that resulted in the yellow, a blatant hold on Fellaini in there penalty area, the disallowed goal and the fact Milner left the pitch without so much as a yellow despite his persistent fouling throughout the game, then they have little to complain about. MOTM was Coleman in my opinion but like above, special mention Mucha ( surely got to keep his place for the run in? ) Gibson and Heitinga.
Hopefully the spark for Jelavic to have a decent run in with big Vic just off him. Oviedo in place of Peinnar and hopefully not to big a loss. 4 points off thenext two games and who knows? As for Moyes, I agree James I think he is off. There is very little chance of CL and the board would have informed him what is available otherwise. Moyes agrees with what he has got or he hasn't, end of. Presuming the additional revenues from Sky will go to the banks, I would presume he will have to sell to buy.
124 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:17:17
Naismith was a big part of the second goal, great tackle to set things moving!
125 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:21:32
128 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:26:24
130 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:28:41
133 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:31:54
I'm sorry City fans, but we're a club with huge passion, money can't buy that, and every game means so much to everyone, whether we lose, draw or win.
What a response by the players though, just magnificent, only 4 points off 4th, and 2 points off 5th. We've still got a lot to play for this season.
139 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:41:37
140 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:35:47
142 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:42:07
I am biased, but I doubt you get a more intimidating ground than when Goodison is bouncing. An early goal for city and a wimper then the players would have coped it. A spirited performance, and every tackle would be cheered as if it was a World Cup winner.
144 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:43:30
Platt was about as gracious in defeat as a spolt brat and Mancini couldn't even bring himself to talk to the media, so no doubt they take their lead from their own management.
145 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:47:09
But we are more successful than them.
Most of their fans have become very bitter just after they were took over, they think they are the best in the world yet they were pretty average before then, and were as low as the 3rd division in this generation.
It's amazing how a bit of money can make some of the most ardent fans jealous of our passion.
146 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:51:50
I thought they were always the 'peoples club in Manchester' but now I don't think they even deserve that as their whole attitude stinks of bitterness. And the hilariousness of them swerving their poor performance onto us 'celebrating our cup final with gollum' is just truly pathetic beyond words.
147 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:55:42
149 Posted 17/03/2013 at 11:55:45
I like Jagielka as a defender, but his distribution infuriates me. As long as Heitinga is on form, he gives us far more composure when starting any forward moves.
You have to put in the hard work before you can play, and we did both yesterday.
172 Posted 17/03/2013 at 13:07:00
The officiating was atrocious; inconsistent decisions for fouls, the offside goal not allowed and, it has to be said, a farcical response to Fellaini's hand ball (although this balances the one he should have got in the first half).
We got the result that we deserved. Platt's post match interview is quality, the man’s face has never looked more like a smacked arse. You'd think nothing went their way all afternoon!
261 Posted 17/03/2013 at 18:05:27
I just wished to god we'd have beat Wigan, walloped Millwall in the semi, then played them in the final, the pretentious pricks would have been shitting themselves. As it is, I hope Man Utd beat Chelsea then go on to give them a good hiding in the semi.
The league is already won and let me tell them now: We're not arsed about Lescott. He was never that good. I've seen pantomine horses turn quicker. They're rapidly turning into another Chelsea because, once this season, is over, Mankini (yes, Mankini) will be gone. Then the next one the season after, and so on. Shabby little bastards. Give me the proper Manchester club any day.
265 Posted 17/03/2013 at 18:32:05
The only glitch was some of Everton's poor tackling which leaves us without Fella and Peanuts for 2 games along with Jags.
I would like to see Velios in for the Stoke game as we know Stoke rely heavily on the set piece,
arial game and we only have Distin who is good in the air who can't be expected to cope on his own against Stokes big boys particularly from corners.
306 Posted 17/03/2013 at 19:09:44
Despair a week ago, elation yesterday. "... those who know ..."
Just a few points.
1] "Big Vic", try as I might I could NEVER explain just how much "The Full Shift On Overdrive" which you put in yesterday vindicated the feeling that I've always had that there is a TERRIFIC footballer bearing your name. (I have previously seen this powerful young lad with the same name, stand sulking on the half-way line with a "they won't let me play" expression on his face.) Mr Anichebe, thanks.
2] Seamus Coleman, ya dun good. Ya dun REAL good. The Toffs want MORE! LOTS MORE!
And You, YOU have it! So dish it up Sea! EVERY WEEK!
"Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!"
3] "The Old Lady" — The first foundations of ALL Football Grounds are here. William Ralph Dean departed "Gods Acre" for "The Heavenly Gates". Harry Catterick followed suit almost 5 years to the day. No other Football Ground was purpose built before Goodison Park. EVERTONIANS do not need a new ground, we NEED to remember just why Goodison is "God's Acre", when "The Grand Old Lady" rocks like yesterday that's very easy.
Doing it "the easy way" isn't the EVERTON way, but, doing it "The Right Way" is: "... those who understand ..."
316 Posted 17/03/2013 at 20:13:26
354 Posted 17/03/2013 at 21:22:46
What a fantastic all round team performance. Up there with the very best.
Felli would have been even better without a very very harsh early booking. It was a proper talismanic tackle, ball first then anything else in the way. Just lovely and just what we all needed to see
Ridiculous that he misses two games as a result but hey ho onwards and upwards we go!
379 Posted 17/03/2013 at 23:50:13
Coleman came of age yesterday, he's clearly worked incredibly hard on his dribbling and crossing.
Gibson was an architect, best I've seen from him.
Don't know if anyone noticed but Felli had a momentary strop and threw his hands in the air, but just as quick he snapped out of it straightaway and got his head down and back into the game.
And a big well done to Mucha, 3 years on the sidelines yet he comes in and shows real class.
387 Posted 18/03/2013 at 04:23:36
When Beckham used to make the ball move about this was hailed as genius (which in its way it was), Osman's strike was with the middle to outside of his foot, just where you hit it if you want it to swerve. It moved at a perfect moment near enough to the keeper to beat his reactions, neither too far out, which would have caused it to miss, not too close in which case an instinctive "make yourself big" would have stopped it.
Had it been Bale, Torres or Rooney, it would have been hailed as the technical goal of the season. But it's Ossie, he plays for Everton so it must be a fluke, mustn't it?
Me? I'll put that one along side Beckham vs Greece, except the ball was moving, so it was more difficult.
401 Posted 18/03/2013 at 09:28:15
Because it's Osman he won't get the same acclaim (not even on Toffeeweb!) as other more 'accepted' technical strikers of the ball.
403 Posted 18/03/2013 at 09:45:58
407 Posted 18/03/2013 at 09:58:32
414 Posted 18/03/2013 at 10:51:04
Usual crock of shit from the Osman haters. Despite his 'powder puff strikes' he now has eight goals this season, more goals from open play than Gerrard, Carrick, Lennon, Milner and Young. In fact only Lampard and Walcott have more goals from midfield this season in the England squad which he has been,surprise surprise, selected for.
But don't let that get in the way of criticising a homegrown player who has represented the club with distinction throughout his entire career, who some time next season will have the most Everton PL appearances and is now an international player. But hey we know he's shit really don't we?
416 Posted 18/03/2013 at 11:28:31
492 Posted 18/03/2013 at 19:05:29
I must admit it was great to see all the team celebrating and the reaction by Moyes was priceless!
504 Posted 18/03/2013 at 19:42:50
Man City have a small, quick-footed, skillful set of forwards who don't really support their defence. We are much more comfortable against them and Chelsea for that matter. BUT... we do not play well against the Kone's, Kamara, Lukaku types who have bullied Heitinga in the past.
We need a fit Jags and Distin against those teams in central defence. I was optimistic against City but the test will come with the absence of Fellaini, Pienaar, Jags and Hibbert against Stoke and Spurs.
505 Posted 18/03/2013 at 19:55:36
Great midfielders can control any game, Osman controls games if he has enough time to do so, hasn’t got the pace or power to impose himself.
He is well worth his place in the England squad/team, the PL is just too fast for him at times. Had he been born and bred Italian we would see him in a very different light I think.
511 Posted 18/03/2013 at 20:04:42
I think, though, that some have been poisoned by the money spent. When we got thumped by Wigan there was nothing on here that attacked the people and city of Wigan the way a few City supporters did with us. The editors her wouldn't allow it.
Money can by trophies but it can't buy class.
517 Posted 18/03/2013 at 20:51:34
He spoke about how he's always welcomed at Goodison Park by players, management, staff and the board and how they always have time for him and his men. This coming 2 weeks after he bemoaned the lack of such civilities at the tin mine and expressed his dismay how they had lost their character and sense of history.
I'd rather we had dubbed them but it made me proud of our club.
540 Posted 18/03/2013 at 23:14:03
Dave Whelan is a chairman who invests in his club with his own money and he is their Sir John Moores. Unfortunately he has blotted his copybook by publicly defending one of his players over a horrendous tackle against Newcastle. He should have remained quiet as the tackle was disgraceful.
633 Posted 19/03/2013 at 14:14:00
That would have given me more pleasure
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