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Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Premier League
 Saturday 22 September 2012; 12:45pm
0 3
Half Time: 0-2
Anichebe (21'), Mirallas (43'), Fellaini (82')
Attendance: 20,464
Fixture 5
Referee: Taylor

Match Report

Having earned just one point from six available in the previous two games, smarting from refereeing injustice, and their prospects seemingly dented already by injuries to two key players, Everton could have been forgiven if anxiety had started to creep into the squad as they prepared for this trip to Swansea.

If they did harbour any self doubt, though, there was no sign of it as David Moyes's men established a vice grip on the game from the first whistle and refused to let go, sweeping to a superb 3-0 victory. Frankly, had the Blues scored six it wouldn't have flattered them and with better finishing, from Marouane Fellaini and Victor Anichebe, in particular, they would indeed have put that many past the hapless Michele Vorm.

Both of Moyes's forwards did get on the scoresheet though, and there was a first Premier League goal for Kevin Mirallas, so no one will be quibbling over missed chances after a 3-0 win away from home against a team who hadn't lost on their own patch since March.

That Everton so dominated this encounter, particularly during the first half hour where the Swans were penned into their own half and under almost ceaseless pressure, will have come as a shock to Michael Laudrup. Starting the day on the same number of points as Everton, there was genuine buzz starting to build around the Dane's fledgeling Premier League career but his depleted defence was torn apart at will at times on what was a superb day for Moyes.

It owed less to the second-half dismissal of Nathan Dyer for a second bookable offence the score was already 2-0 by that stage and more to an irrepressible attacking display from Everton that yielded over 30 attempts on goal and was underpinned by excellent performances all over the pitch. Anichebe deputised impressively for the injured Nikica Jelavic and scored in successive games for the first time while Tim Howard atoned for his suspect goalkeeping on Monday night with some absolutely key saves to snuff out any hope the hosts had of staging a comeback.

The match wasn't even five minutes old by the time the visitors had registered four efforts on goal, Vorm spilling Anichebe's header in the second minute, Mirallas testing the goalkeeper twice with a side-foot shot and a header, and Fellaini seeing a chest-and-shot blocked.

Illustrating his impact on proceedings, Steven Pienaar was constantly being fouled as he pulled the strings down the left with Leighton Baines but the South African was again wayward when going for goal himself, shooting tamely wide after a neat 1-2 exchange with Anichebe on the edge of the area.

The key for the Blues was, of course, to make all that attacking pay off which it did half-way through the first half shortly after Anichebe's turn and shot had been saved by Vorm. A raking diagonal ball from Baines picked out Fellaini in the box to bring the ball down in familiar fashion with his chest and nod the resulting unfavourable bounce on for Anichebe. The striker duly buried the chance with a left-footed shot into the corner and Everton were 1-0 up.

The goal had an element of fortune about it: with Adam Tate's high boot about to connect with his face, the Belgian had sensibly pulled his head in and knocked the ball forward with his arm but neither official spotted it, a foot to the head might have yielded a penalty anyway, and after Monday's "floodlight robbery" against Newcastle, the Blues were due a break.

It was the least Moyes's men deserved for an energetic and dynamic first 30 minutes during which they harried, pressed, pressured and attacked Swansea, tenaciously winning the vast majority of 50-50 challenges and a good deal of the 25-75 situations as well. Fellaini with his height and determination and Anichebe with his physique and running were unplayable at times and Mirallas was keen to attack with speed an invention drifting in from the right flank.

But while the lead was just one, the hosts were never out of it and having really only had one prior opening when Pablo Hernandez volleyed wide following John Heitinga's poor defensive header, they finally managed to break free of Everton's stranglehold in the last quarter of an hour before half time.

Phil Jagielka was forced into emergency action in the 34th minute when he headed Hernandez' attempted lob off his own line. Howard had been stranded well off his line as he went to close the ball down on the far left side of his area, and Phil Neville threw himself in front of the rebound to charge the subsequent shot down from eight yards out and complete the defensive stand.

Jagielka was on hand again three minutes later to deflect Wayne Routledge's shot behind and, thankfully, Michu powered the resulting corner narrowly over the crossbar, and Ki later curled a superb shot inches wide of the upright.

Crucially, though, Everton landed a devastating blow on the counter-attack two minutes from the break. Fellaini released Pienaar down the right flank with a perfectly-weighted ball and the midfielder swept an early pass behind the retreating back line to Mirallas who had artfully checked his run to stay onside. Vorm looked to have made an excellent stop when his contact diverted Mirallas' shot into the underside of the crossbar but the Belgian had continued his run and beat the 'keeper to head the rebound into the empty net.

The Blues were still not home and dry into the interval, though. Angel Rangel flashed a cross/shot across the face of goal, with Danny Graham an inch away from toeing it in. Then, Ki's slide-rule pass put the Spanish full-back in behind the flat-footed Pienaar but Howard got enough on it to deflect his shot over the bar. And, finally, Routledge returned Heitinga's clearance with interest, again to Rangel on the far side, but the defender's cushioned ball back across goal found no white shirts anywhere in the vicinity.

So, half time and Everton were sitting pretty in terms of the scoreline but more sloppiness at the back in the early minutes of the second half threatened to spoil the clean sheet. Neville's decision to be too cute and bounce a poor pass out to Seamus Coleman at right back rather than belt it clear conceded a 49th-minute corner that came to nothing. And when Howard cleared the ball straight to a white shirt and Jonathan de Guzman had put Michu into the clear in a one-on-one situation, the American had to parry the forward's effort away smartly for another corner.

Everton were a constant threat on the breakaway throughout the game, though, and Moyes will have neen wondering how 2-0 didn't become 3-0 with 52 minutes gone. Anichebe had charged forward on a quick counter and sent Fellaini into the clear but the Belgian's lack of pace meant he had to check inside and lay it off awkwardly to his compatriot Mirallas in the box. With quick feet, Mirallas engineered a shot, though, one that cannoned off the bar and back to Anichebe who eventually found space for his own effort but Vorm beat it away.

A minute later at the other end, Rangel was at it again, teeing up Ki in too much space in front of the Everton defence but Howard made a terrific save with his arm, once more sending the ball flying over the bar with a crucial touch.

Though the Swans had tried to rally with 11 men, once they lost Dyer for flying in on Baines, the game was effectively up and it was a matter of time before the Blues scored again. Fellaini could have done when Anichebe's teed him with a great center from the left but he sliced his effort high and wide of goal; Anichebe should have done 11 minutes later when Baines raced into the box on the overlap to collect Pienaar's pass and put his cross right on the money on the six-yard line but the burly striker glanced his volley wide when a surer contact would almost certainly have yielded his second goal.

After Anichebe's volley had been parried by Vorm, the third did arrive, though, with seven minutes to go. A Baines free kick from the left found Fellaini all too easily in the area and when his header deflected off Ashley Williams, it gave the 'keeper no chance and the net bulged again.

As if to confirm that it wasn't the home side's day, De Guzman rattled a stoppage-time free kick off the bar and excellent defending by Jagielka prevented the follow-up shot from being turned in, preserving a clean sheet for Howard and ensuring that the Blues would take pride of second place in the overnight Premier League standings.

Given how frustrating Everton were to watch for much of the first half of last season, it's an absolute pleasure to watch them when they're firing on all cylinders going forward as they were today. Right now, they're proving that last season's nine-game run-in was not a flash in the pan and that they really are capable of cracking the top six this season if they can avoid a serious pile-up of injuries and suspensions.

That they so comprehensively put Swansea to the sword on their ground with Jelavic and Gibson sidelined, an unfulfilled talent leading the line, and the controversial Neville-Osman partnership in the midfield retained speaks volumes for the confidence and the assuredness coursing through the team at the moment.

Yes, there a few sloppy moments at the back and they had Howard to thank for keeping the Swansea side of scoreline blank, but the victor was never really in doubt and this was a performance and result to savour. Onward to Elland Road and then back to Goodison for the visit of Southampton next weekend.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

David Moyes made some key selection decisions that saw Distin benched in favour of Heitinga, Coleman replacing the injured Hibbert, while both Mirallas and Anichebe got to start up front, with Fellaini in support for a very attacking 4-3-3 formation from the off.

Everton made a tremendous start to the game and should have had three goals inside the first five minutes but the guilt-edged chances created would not go in:

Anichebe shot, fumbled save, Fellaini following up. Mirallas shot off a brilliant Anichebe cut-back; Fellaini follow up amazingly saved; Mirallas header also saved; Attack down right, Osman fouled, Coleman, Fellaini chest down blocked.... It was 5 mins before Swans could get out of their own half but it was more Everton pressure after a foul on Pienaar. Another FK swung in by Baines, defended out as Everton totally dominated but failed to capitalize in another trademark blitzkrieg.

Anichebe scampered toward a dreadful Swans backpass and a 50-50 ball that Williams got to fractionally before the big man crumpled pathetically over his outstrecthced leg,enough to win an unjusst free-kick with the Everton fans screaming for a red car, denying a goalscoring opportinity. But Anichebe did not have possession of the ball when 'fouled'!

Swanseas tried the long ball that had been sucessful for Newcastle and

Mirallas played a great ball through but Anichebe offside. In defence, a poor Heitinga header almost gave Swans a worrying chance

Fellaini again released Anichebe when went to the byeline again but stumbled under a weak challenge and allowed the ball to cross the line.

More good work , P & A down the right, Anichebe turned and shot but straight at Vorm. So many chances, so few goals... But it finally came, Fellaini doing brilliantly to chest down a very difficult ball, that he then cleverly powered forward not with his head but with his right arm, to Anichebe who finally found the net with a scuffed shot that went in off the turf to finally give them the lead: 0 - 1.

Anichebe, still with no confidence, ran all the way into the are and then scooped his shot horribly over the bar as the defender backed off. Then he totally fluffed a promising one-two with Baines. Anichebe then collapsed in the area under the heavy breath of a defender on the back of his neck when Everton had a great chance to make more of it.

Yellow card for a poor tackle by Ki on Pienaar, and another superb Baines kick defended away. Swansea just could not cope with Everton's fizz, but Everton were doing their best not to make it a massacre, Pienaar putting a headed clearance back in to Fellaini for a stooping header that was blocked away.

Swansea finally mounted an attack that required a clearing header by Jagielka with Howard beaten by the lob. Swansea finally got the wind behind them, and it needed some desperate defending to give them their first corner that Michu should have powered in with a free header but it was thankfully over.

Ki came very close with a curling shot that was enhanced Howard's swan dive.

Another fantastic Baines free-kick was spurned but the next attack, started by Nevilleat the corner flag, say Jagielka play a good ball forward to Fellaini who then set up a great inviting pass for Pienaar to chase, his first-time cross to Mirallas taking a slight deflection but the Beligian hit it well only to see Vorm glance it onto the underside of the bar and perhapos over the line but Mirallas had follwoed through and was there behind Vormto nod it in.

Swansea came very close to grabbing one at the death, Angel Rngel through on Howard, who resisted the star-jumpo to catch his shot with his foot and make a vital save. Then Angel Rangel was all alone to meet Alan Tate's dipping cross at the back post but only succeeded in knocking the ball away from goal, rather than towards it.

And Swansea continued to press Everton after the break, the Blues defence not exactly stepping up, Michu getting into a good position to shoot past Howard but the Everton keeper had narrowed the angle and deflected it wide of the goal.

It was lively stuff at both ends, Ki bundling over Coleman but a little too easily for it to be a penalty. Meanwhile, Swansea pressed with a couple of dangerous corners. Fellaini got free and should have striven for goal but somehow got waylaid and eventually pulled it back to Mirallas who's brilliant shot hit the bar with Anichebe unable to convert the follow-up and at the other end, Howard pulled off another miraculous save to keep Everton noses in front, What a ding-dong game. As Swansea made their first change, substitute Dyer got yellow for talking back to the ref.

Angel Rangel was the next to see a card for a foul on Anichebe. Dyer then put in a ridiculous challenge that saw him get a second yellow in the space of 2 mins, red and off. Mirallas could not get enough dip on the free-kick. Everton don't seem to do too well against 10 men, but a two goal lead should be enough... surely?

Swansea felt hard-done-by (they weren't) and came at Everton with the crowd behind them, but the Blues... 60 mins gone and Everton had notched up 20 valid attempts to score...

Everton looked to calm things down and take possession again but some nice build-up play was ruined by a horribly over-hit pass out wide from Osman. In the response, Michu bizarrely grabbed and floored Osman well after passing the ball forward, The ref saw it and gave yellow but surely it should have been red?

Another glorious chance then came for Everton, Baines through to Anichebe who crossed to Fellaini but it was too difficult for the big fella who screwed his shot over. Another Swansea attack ensued and the Blues really looked stretched for no good reason, but survived. Osman became teh first Everton player booked, as Naismith was switched in for the tiring Mirallas.

Naismith made an immediate impact, revitalizing the Everton attack, perhaps with something to prove after not starting. A superb corner by Baines picked out Fellaini whose header was cleared off the line.

A great break with pieanaar down the kleft, a brilliant reverse ball in to Baines whose powerful run and pinpoint cross to Anichebe could only end up in one place... but no, somehow Anichebe misjudged his contact and could only contrive to clip it wide with the goal gapping!!!. If Swansea score here, 1 -2 and it would be a very nervous 10 mins. Thankfully a good header from Swansea was saved by Howard.

At the other end, it was nonsense target practice stuff, Anichebe and Fellaini unable to convert, now 28 attempts, 16 on target, only 2 scored! Finally, a simple free-kick clipped forward, a stooping header form Fellaini... GOAL! the vital third goal should surely ensure three points and second on goal difference behind Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

Pienaar and Fellaini then departed to a tremendous ovation from the traveling Blues, to be replaced by Gueye and Oviedo, the Costa Rican getting a 5-minute cameo at the end.

But more Desperate Dan defending was required to keep the clean sheet, ____ rattling the bar wiyth Howard beaten, but the whistle finally came.

Everton's performances had shown much promise this season, and this was another excellent performance with plenty of good play and some goals to show for it, despite the avalanche of missed chances.

Michael Kenrick

Match Preview

David Moyes may have effected what was almost the perfect summer transfer window for the financial resources at his disposal but the harsh realities at Goodison Park dictate that he still began the new season with one of the smallest — if not the smallest — senior squads in the Premier League.

With that, of course, comes the threat to the season posed by injuries, particularly to key personnel, and they don't come much more key than unsung midfield linchpin — and lucky charm! — Darron Gibson and goalscorer Nikica Jelavic.

Just four games into the new League season and both have already picked up injuries that will keep them out of action until early to mid-October.

Thankfully, as long as the numbers of walking wounded don't start piling up, the manager has cover in both positions, although, the defeat at West Brom, many fans were calling for Marouane Fellaini to drop back into the defensive-midfield role in which he made his name at Goodison and were disappointed on Monday against Newcastle United.

Deploying Phil Neville in central midfield alongside Leon Osman again seemed to backfire once the opposition started to get a grip on the game but it's injury to Tony Hibbert that might force Moyes into a reshuffle at Swansea City this weekend.

Seamus Coleman was handed a start at right back in the Capital One Cup against Leyton Orient last month but it's more likely that Moyes will opt for Neville's experience and leadership in that position this time and that would leave him with little option other than pulling Fellaini back from his more attacking role, most likely to partner Osman.

Up front, Victor Anichebe could get the nod to replace Jelavic after his goalscoring exploits against the Magpies, partnering either Kevin Mirallas or Steven Naismith.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup has selection problems of his own, with Chico Flores serving a suspension, Kyle Bartley, Garry Monk and Neil Taylor all out injured and Ashley Williams also rated doubtful. Given the Blues' success in creating chances in most of their games so far, Moyes might see plenty of opportunity for his mobile forwards, particuarly if they can grab an early goal or start the second half even.

Victory, a third successive win over Swansea since they returned to the top flight last season, would provide a massive boost for Everton and go a long way to erasing some of the bad memories from Monday's controversial 2-2 draw in which they were robbed of two perfectly good goals and three points by poor officiating.

A win would also put the Blues joing top, for a couple of hours at least, and would keep the challenge for Europe ticking along while the injured due recuperate.

Lyndon Lloyd

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SWANSEA (4-4-2)
  Rangel booked:57'
  Tate (55' Britton)
  Williams booked:12'
  Ki booked:31'
  De Guzman
  Michu booked:65'
  Hernandez (46' Dyer booked:55' sent off:58' )
  Graham (71' Shechter)
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-3-3)
  Osman booked:71'
  Pienaar (85' Gueye)
  Fellaini (85' Oviedo)
  Mirallas (71' Naismith)
  Subs not used
  Barkley (loan)
  Bidwell (loan)
  Gibson (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Jelavic (injured)

Premier League Scores
Chelsea 1 - 0 Stoke City
So'hampton 4 - 1 Aston Villa
Swansea 0 - 3 Everton
West Brom 1 - 0 Reading
West Ham 1 - 1 Sunderland
Wigan 1 - 2 Fulham
Liverpool 1 - 2 Man United
Man City 1 - 0 Arsenal
Newcastle 1 - 0 Norwich
Tottenham 0 - 1 QPR


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