Still no Phil Jagielka for Everton but Gerard Deulofeu was given a starting place, with Aiden McGeady, Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley starting the game against Sunderland on the bench, where Tony Hibbert and Antolin Alcaraz have also featured for a number of matches now, but have not been called upon. We should not forget either, that five other first-team players are still out injured...

Sunderland kicked off and it was scrappy for a few minutes, Coleman getting fouled, plenty of turnovers as the contest developed a little slowly, Coleman overlapping and Lukaku deemed to have headed wide. McCarthy pushed Ki, allowing Borini to turn and shoot following a free-kick.

Sunderland won the first corner, from which Deulofeu broke but decided to do it all himself and ran into a cul-de-sac. Lukaku then had a shot at Mannone. Everton created a trendous chance, Baines playing in Naismiith well, the Scot turning superbly to create space and them hammering the ball past Manonne and over the Sunderland goal, when it looked easier to burst the net!

Osman won Everton's first corner with a deflected shot, then Baines was blocked by Johnson, who became the first booking of the match, Baines's free-kick outswinging a little too much. Deulofeu was the next to be fouled, his low free-kick unimpressive.

Everton were passing the ball well and getting it forward but it wasn't really rolling for them, as moves kept breaking down. Baines was penalised wide on the Everton left, but Johnson's free-kick passed through harmlessly. At the other end, Lukaku won a corner off O'Shea but again Deulofeu's delivery was poor, his second was better... then he won a free-kick wide left that Baines curled in but Deulofeu's touch returning the clearance was poor.

With Everton caught a little in defence, Borini got around Howard and looked to finish but there was John Stones, perfectly positioned to block the certain goal behind, for a worrying escape. At the other end, Lukaku scuffed a shot that was deflected wide but Baines's corner at least caused some concern.

Everton's play was impressive at times, with Barry playing masterfully in midfield, and some good interplay won Osman a free-kick off Colback but Baines played the set-piece poorly into the wall. Everton were showing some rare vulnerabilities at the back, requiring some last-ditch defending, especially a superb block by McCarthy to deny Johnson.

A nice move down the Everton right saw a great cross delivered in by McCarthy but Naismith didn't get enough behind his glanced header that took the ball away from Osman, following up. Not a great first half for the Blues.

Sunderland put some decent effort in after the break, forcing Everton onto the back foot a little until a good move gave Deulofeu the chance for a few stepovers and a low cross that Mannone pounced on. At the other end, Coleman was nutmegged and then booked as Everton survived the threat, Bardsley getting booked after a bad challenge on Naismith. That led to another lively move involving Deulofeu that came to nought.

A Sunderland corner caused absolute havoc and Baines did very well to clear a ball that had Everton at sixes and sevens as Osman was replaced by Barkley. Another superb Johnson corner was headed away by McCarthy and another viscous ball in to the far post almost caught Everton out again.

Another fantastic piece of work by Deulofeu, his low shot skidding past the far post when a pullback to Naismith would have been a certain goal as the pace of the game became electric. Naismith anticipated a mistake by Mannone who headed the ball into his path but the finish was poor as Naismith hooked the ball wide of the gaping goal.

Some better football from Everton saw Lukaku cross and Barkley had a lot to do just to reach the fast high cross, forcing Mannone to save at the near post as neither side was controling the play in a game that had signs of going either way, with a Baines corner headed wide. Everton tried the slow and measured build-up, Barkley firing one just wide to end the move.

Deulofeu again went on his trade-mark stepover run and this time it produced a result, the most fortuitous of own-goal, the ball clipping off Wes Brown and past Mannone into the Sunderland net,. The breakthrough Everton so desired, the cruelest luck for Sunderland.

McGeady replaced Deulofeu as Sunderland pushed hard, Ki forcing a save off Howard, then blasting a difficult one over the Everton bar as the Blues chorus resounded around the Stadium of Light. Wickham was next to put Howard to the test with a low bobbling shot. Then Borini flashed one wide across Howard's far post as the Blues struggled to hold on to the ball or deny the home side a final desperate flourish.

Larsson. bizarrely booked for taking a free-kick too soon, and Distin was booked for a barge as the Stadium of Light, bathed in sunshine, emptied out, Johnson's set-piece effort straight into Howard's arms.

A vital if somewhat unconvincing win for the Blues... seven in a row for Martinez, in his first season... Everton up into the Champions League places, in his first season. Fantastic stuff from Roberto Martinez!

Scorer: Brown (og:75')

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley Y:54', Alonso, O'Shea, Brown, Cattermole, Ki, Colback (70' Larsson Y:87'), Johnson Y:17', Wickham, Borini.
Subs not Used: Gardner, Giaccherini, Cuéllar, Vergini, Scocco, Ustari.

Everton: Howard; Coleman Y:51', Stones, Distin Y:90', Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Deulofeu (78' McGeady), Naismith, Osman (58' Barkley); Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Robles, Hibbert, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Mirallas.

Referee: Lee Probert

Attendance: 38,445

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Frank Duffy
545 Posted 12/04/2014 at 14:40:18
Surprised with the line-up but the bench is strong. And who am I to question the Manager. I think we will win three-nil.
James Byrne
549 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:03:34
Get in, many thanks Wes Brown.

I'm in Africa so not seen anything of the game today - how did the team play; did Stones play well again??

Bit of paybacks for the Mackems for the defeat at Goodison — we look great sitting in fourth spot.........COYB's

Mark Frere
550 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:02:02
Get in there! It doesn't matter how we get the wins this stage of the season.... It doesn't make for a comfortable watch but we got the all important 3 points!

We really should have wrapped the game up with two excellent counter-attacking opportunities near the end. I'm not complaining. COYB.

Brent Stephens
551 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:10:30
James, another good game from Stones.
Steve Brown
552 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:09:26
That was a tense one. Deulofeu had two very contrasting halves, while Stones and McCarthy were boss.
Peter Warren
553 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:10:37
Another 3 points, no booking for Barry... now get the ice baths and get ready for a massive game against Palace. COYB
Andy Osborne
555 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:14:05
Didn't see the game because I am working, sounded like a scrappy win,but don't care, 3 points. COYB.
Dennis Ng
557 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:22:02
I thought the ref gave Sunderland too many good decisions. Guess it worked out for us still. Scrappy win but good 3 points nonetheless. COYB!
Dan Parker
558 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:24:29
Rode our luck at the end after giving away a couple of silly free kicks. At this stage I'll take 3 points no matter how ugly we make it! Still on-track with the hardest games to come.
Kevin Tully
559 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:23:56
Never underestimate a team fighting to stay up - especially at home. They knew this was their last chance to give themselves any hope and fought well. How many times have we groaned at the likes of Liverpool or Utd who always seem to get a bit of luck when they need it most? I’ll take these lucky wins all day thank you very much. We certainly had another gear to call upon if required in that last 10 min’s.

66 points is now a PL record for us with 5 to play, and we have matched the record of 19 wins in a PL season.

The bookies don’t think there’s much in it now - after today we are 11/10 with Arsenal just odds-on at 5/6.

Can’t wait for the next two games.

Jason Heng
560 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:39:00
Surely if Sunderland go down, we've got to sign their keeper. Miles ahead of Robles...
Bill Griffiths
561 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:23:57
Let’s get real guys, we won and we are in 4th place. I know lots on here cite Southampton as our most difficult away game remaining but, as far as I an concerned, this was the hardest. The Saints and Hull are safe and in no mans land, Sunderland though bottom have games in hand and had everything to play for.

Though I think The Arse are still favourites, we still have everything to play for. If we get 4th... Great! If not, I’m sure we will finish in the top 4 next season.

I’m 63 yearrs old and supported Everton all my life and am lucky in that I have seen us win League titles and trophies but as far as I am concerned that is not the be all and end all. I love Everton and will do until I die. I have lots of memories about the Blues and it’s impossible to compare teams of different generations. My idols are Ball, Kendall and Harvey, but I am really exited about what we can achieve under Roberto.

Tommy Coleman
562 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:40:37
Scrappy game at times but a great result. Keep it going Toffees!!
Steve Cotton
564 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:39:12
I thought the ref was trying his best to level up the game in the end, nevertheless we come away with the points.

Lukaku and Naismith nowhere near as effective as last week. I thought Gerard looked terrible first half and needed taking off, but just goes to show what can be achieved with perseverance.

Looking forward to the season decider tomorrow between the RS and Man City, just thinking it could go either way when I saw the name of the ref: Clattenberg

Does Brian Barwick (red neck) still have a say in such matters at the FA???

Darryl Ritchie
565 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:40:47
Had a feeling this match would be tough.

Said to myself "I'd take a 1-0 win with an own goal off a Sunderland backside." Who knew?

Kevin Rowlands
566 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:43:49
Reminded me of the Swansea game at home, I always thought it was going to be tough and very happy with the three points. Another big plus is the Palace win as they look safe now so hopefully makes for an easier game for us this week.
Eugene Ruane
568 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:43:24
They were fighting for their lives and (as RM pointed out before the game) it was always going to be tough.

He was spot on.

Had Nais buried his chance in the first half, we might have opened them up a bit in the second, but while it was 0-0, it was never easy (that's no criticism of Nais, yes he should have buried it, but again he put in a shift and never let their backs settle).

Loved that Deulofeu kept 'trying to win the lottery' and eventually did.

By the way, Stones's Jags-style save was fantastic and showed great thinking.

Other than that, hope City win 6-0 and... Up the Toffees!

Peter Murray
569 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:54:51
Had to grind it out. However, another clean sheet and 4th position.

Only 6 points off Chelsea.

Amit Vithlani
570 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:54:47
Well done to the manager and lads. Special mention to Johnny Stones for his goal line challenge. Deulofeu showed you don't need to play well for 90 minutes to be a match winner.

Games are coming thick and fast. Rest and recovery are crucial.

Jeff Gwilliams
571 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:59:53
Kevin Tully 559

That was exactly my thoughts, how long have we watched the other crowds (by this I mean Man Utd, Chelsea etc, not just the kopites) win spawnily in the last five minutes?

If we can do this, then we are in there

Kevin Tully
572 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:01:26
Wigan 0 Arsenal 0 at half-time in their semi at Wembley. Hopefully the Arse will run themselves into the ground this second half, then they face a tough game on Tuesday against West ham.
Bill Griffiths
573 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:02:19
Well said Amit, Delboy is frustrating to say the least. he can be crap for 99.99% of the time but he has it in him to produce then unexpected/moment of brilliance to change the course of or win a game.
Paul Mackie
574 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:51:59
We won ugly but we won. At this point in the season I don't really care how we get the points!
Dean Adams
575 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:05:03
We have learnt to win the games that we have drawn so often in the past. A great lesson to have taken and it is wonderful to see us getting top marks for our resolve.
Graham Mockford
576 Posted 12/04/2014 at 17:59:32
It was all a bit after The Lord Mayor's show and Sunderland certainly huffed and puffed.

But what is increasingly impressive is our ability to win matches even when not at our best. I think it says a lot about the character of the side, and the addition of Barry and McCarthy to provide that solid defensive and ball winning base is the absolute foundation of the style that Martinez is creating.

I'd be certainly worried to lose Barry and I would expect him to be our number one priority on a two year deal. Gibson gives you different options but I don't really see him in that ball winning role.

Great news he didn't pick a card up today as there is now an amnesty on previously acquired yellows. However he will need replacing for the City game. Hopefully Pienaar is fit and one of Ross or Ossie can play a little deeper.

Oliver Molloy
577 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:18:43
Payback complete!
Mike Keating
578 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:05:44
We were poor, they were marginally better but three points is three points and Liverpool won League titles doing that so let's continue to eek out spawny wins and bring on Real Madrid.
COYB
Kevin Hudson
580 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:18:29
Both a record points total and 7th successive win in the Premier League era, brilliant from Martinez's Everton.

Now if the national media would even temporarily suspend their collective gushing/ cynical obsession with the top-four/ Spurs-Man.Utd, for just a moment, that would be just great..

Serious question: Does an unfit, out of practice Jagielka actually get into this side when he comes back? I'm genuinely concerned that he might fuck-up in a key game.

Matt Traynor
581 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:19:06
Graham #576, spot on about Barry. Obviously he can't talk publicly about his plans now, but I read an interview with him just after he signed, and he seemed clear he was looking at it beyond a one season loan. He's earned it, even if there was pessimism on these pages about him last summer. Gibson as you say is different, but for me he's just too unreliable, sadly for him.

We've had our disappointing spells this season, like at the start before the deadline day (understandable) and Dec/Jan, but ultimately we have, with FIVE to play secured Everton's highest points total in the Premier League era, and winning seven on the bounce (so far).

A good season of transition for Martinez I'd say!

Jeff Gwilliams
582 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:20:45
Watching Lukaku tonight was a bit like watching Latchford. Needed a kick in the arse but guaranteed a goal.
Paul Thompson
589 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:42:18
Credit to Sunderland - they through everything at us. I thought we played well in the first half, Plenty of movement and if Naismith had taken his gilt-edged chance we'd have strolled it. But the second half was one of the worst performances with the ball - all very nervy and hurried. Other than one mistakes, Stones was excellent and McCarthy was everywhere. I was surprised that RM didn't bring Mirallas on for Nais or Lukaku in the final 15.
Tony J Williams
591 Posted 12/04/2014 at 18:56:53
God that was horrible to watch.

That last 10 minutes was like watching amateurs. Couldn’t keep hold of the ball.

Del Boy was atrocious the first half, not much better the second but he can take a man on.

I thought it would have been easy after Naismith scored...... what do you mean he missed? Absolutely brilliant turn, piss poor finish. I was already celebrating and telling him how good a goal it was...then BALLOON!!

Winning ugly gets as many points as the Arsenal walk over, so that’ll do for me!

Shane Corcoran
593 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:02:40
I only saw the first half but will watch Football First later.

Is the headline apt? I though Del was poor in the first half.

Mark Tanton
595 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:04:31
70% Earth is covered by water -the rest is covered by James McCarthy and Gareth Barry.
Peter Bell
597 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:03:48
I watched the game with my son, and Del boy was so erratic I kept saying keep him on, I just knew he would be the influence, the hero or the villan, every cross went across the six yard box, the first time he cut one back look what happened
Patrick Murphy
599 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:05:28
Like you Shane - I only managed to see the first-half and if the second half was as poor from Everton then we are lucky to have the three points. When Nais missed that chance in the first-half I thought the best we would get was a point But at this stage it’s all about results. Those criticising the performance should have watched our rivals Arsenal struggle to get to extra-time it’s that time of the season when tired limbs and minds are prevalent. Just have to hope Roberto can get an extra something out of the players in the remaining games.

COYB - keep it going lads.

James Morgan
603 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:19:18
A win is a win in the hunt for fourth.
Arsenal playing extra time in the semi does us a favour too, their energy levels will be sapped. Come on Wigan, smash their confidence even more!
Sam Hoare
604 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:25:43
Mark Tanton, very good.

I'm beginning to get excited. Getting 3 points when you're not playing well at desperate relegation battlers is a great sign. Perhaps an element of luck is involved but who cares.

Congrats to Martinez and his team. Onto the next one.

David Greenwood
605 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:30:29
Great three points, results are all that matter now.

Fingers crossed Arse go out on penalties shortly, and are shattered for West Ham on Tuesday.

Speaking of penalties, any one up for a guess at what time in the game our lovable neighbours will get the first of their penalties from Clattenburg tomorrow? I’ll go for around the 40th minute.

Keep it going Blue boys.

Tony Cheek
607 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:32:45
7 IN A ROW!!!......What the fuck is going on. Martinez, this is all your fault!!
What a season! Keep it going Blues!!!
Dean Adams
611 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:53:48
This form won us the league in 87. Lets hope we do it all again next season.
Colin Glassar
612 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:58:35
We could end up with 70+ points and still miss out on CL football. How cruel would that be?
Chris Corn
613 Posted 12/04/2014 at 19:58:25
I think Deloufeu kept them busy all day. Not everything went his way but in the first half he was getting fouled all over the pitch. Johnson was lucky not to get a second yellow and the full back just clothes lined him when he ran past him.
He looked dangerous all game despite sometimes being frustrating and he won us the game. Well done lad !
I think RM needs to shuffle the pack again on Wednesday as pace is the key against Palace. If we have a slow build up , which was often the case today, it will suit them down to the ground.
However, the result is all that matters so COYB !!!
Jamie Barlow
614 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:03:59
For anyone interested, Martinez and Peter Reid on Goals on Sunday tomorrow. Should be good.
Kevin Tully
615 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:08:40
Chris # 613, Martinez has rotated his attacking players all season where possible, resting key players who can win us games. I expect Mirallas & Barkley will start against Palace, and that’s a sign of a manager who has a longer term strategy than just concentrating on the next game.

Naismith said only this morning that Martinez has a different game-plan for each match and players expect to be dropped depending upon the opposition.

It’s easy to just name your best 11 every game, but that’s where fatigue will set in, exactly when we need a fresh squad. I don’t think there are many managers who would have dropped Barkley and Mirallas today after their displays against Arsenal - but that was precisely the right call.

As an aside, Barry cannot be suspended now for any yellow cards, today was the cut off point.

Patrick Murphy
616 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:19:41
I agree with your thinking Kevin, I'm of the old school where you play your best eleven players available so I wasn't that happy to see Ossie and Del Boy start, but as usual Roberto knows best - with three games in a week, and one of them an emotional game against Man Utd, Roberto was probably correct in selecting that particular line-up.

But we looked so lethargic at times and, whether that is that old mentality coming in to play where against the big-hitters we raise our game, I don't know... but we'll have to be at full throttle on Wednesday as Pulis's team will be relaxed and we will have to play our best to get the desired result.

Andy Meighan
620 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:37:05
Bill 561 loved that post. Absolutely superb! I’m 9 years younger and I’ve seen us win trophies but, like you said, it’s not the be-all and end-all.

This manager is a breath of fresh air and, regardless of where we finish, he’s done wonders! What a feeling he’s give us... I can’t believe it.

I honestly thought we’d have to take a couple of steps back this season but the way he’s brought us on is nothing short of miraculous. I even had the bitterest of reds in the pub last night waxing lyrical about him. I love Everton!

Robert Workman
622 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:46:25
Lets celebrate the fact that Everton will be playing in Europe next season!

Both Spurs and Utd can reach a maximum of 72 points. Everton only need 7 more points (out of possible 15) to reach 73 points (in the case of Spurs, 72 points would be enough because of vastly superior goal difference).

There is no way that we will finish lower than 6th. 5th is highly likely and 4th is now a realistic possibility as Arsenal, unlike Everton, are not in a good run of form - and may be saving something for the Cup Final.

Colin Glassar
623 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:55:47
Reidy and Roberto on the box tomorrow? Legends both of them.
James Martin
627 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:58:16
Did anyone else other than me think we actually played quite well in the first half? I thought we were far worse in the second half but got the goal then.

Perfect result to deflate Arsenal and put the pressure on them. Stones is just boss and there’s no way he can be dropped after seven in a row, no way.

Dennis Ng
631 Posted 12/04/2014 at 21:06:06
Steve 564, I guess I’m just annoyed Coleman got his yellow and then the tackle from Bardsley on Naismith is only a yellow. That looked everything like a red to me. When the goal came I felt it was karma! Not sure about the ManC game but Kompany seems out for the game so unfortunately advantage rs for now.

Robert 622, the FA Cup Semi went better than I thought. Arsenal through with penalties, I think the thought of cup final glory will keep them distracted. Schedule wise, it’s probably not going to matter much but the distraction should keep their poor form running. Who knows, maybe Hull will roll over to save some in the tank against them in the Final too!

Dennis Ng
633 Posted 12/04/2014 at 21:35:09
Kevin 615 and Patrick 616, I think the difference is about form being averaged out or not.

After reading both your comments I recall how dominant we are, say over the past few weeks and how meek we are during those tough matches in the late Jan to early March stretch.

There are pros and cons to both methods of team selection and results will always vary when players have bad games and matchups sometimes.

I trust RM to have learnt from that bad stretch in Feb though to have a more solid idea of how our players will matchup against our opponents and very excited for the ManU game. Not so much City especially if they lose tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll win out and improve upon the squad in before and after the WC.

Question though. Is Barry only going to miss ManC game after this? I read somewhere that if he avoids a yellow in the Sunderland game, his yellow cards count will be reset. Is that correct?

Colin Malone
635 Posted 12/04/2014 at 20:14:19
my nerves are shot.
I have seen a Roberto's Everton that are not so cavalier for the second week running. It shows NOW, in my opinion, we are the best side in the premier league.
We are not punching above our weight.
As Elvis sang, To dream the impossible dream.
Happy days.
Ally ally ally oooooo.
Kevin Tully
637 Posted 12/04/2014 at 21:57:52
Yes Dennis, he would have missed the next two with a yellow today, but they are wiped out now.

I feel the crunch games for Arsenal will be West Brom (h) and Norwich (a) which is their last game of the season.

Roberto said it would go down to the last day, and it seems he got that right as well! I love the fact we are only 8 points off the top of the League with 5 to play. Absolutely incredible.

Dennis Ng
644 Posted 12/04/2014 at 22:27:20
Kevin, that's awesome! I think their West Ham game could be the be-all-end-all game. Maybe the Hull game too if Hull goes to the FA Cup Final. If I'm Hull in that situation, I would want to dent their confidence further given their poor form, that's for sure. The Norwich game might just be as crucial as you mentioned but based on their form and direction, probably not. I'm consoling my friend from Norwich already...

I do enjoy the fact you mentioned that we're 8 points off summit. When was the last time we've been this close to the top at this stage of the season?!

Trevor Lynes
663 Posted 13/04/2014 at 00:04:09
Crystal Palace will be tough as they are on a good run. I’m glad Arsenal beat Wigan as they were totally dead on their feet at the end of the match and they will have both eyes on the Cup final. I just want to beat United and then I will really believe that we can get 4th.

Talk of dropping players is ludicrous, we are rotating players to conserve energy and reduce the risk of injury.
Jagielka needs to be fit to play for England is being nursed but he is still our first choice centre back along with Distin.
Stones is becoming really good but is still learning.

Derek Thomas
682 Posted 13/04/2014 at 03:08:56
Jags is set to play a full game behind closed doors soon, but the thing is there's no need to rush him back, that game and more training will do him no harm, He can sit on the bench instead of Alcaraz, ready if needed.

We pay his wages, Sod what's best for the England Team until the season is over

Jamie Sweet
050 Posted 14/04/2014 at 02:55:56
Isn't it great how Roberto is breaking these good records in his first season, while a certain other manager we used to know has broken so many records for all the wrong reasons in his first term.

So many reasons to be happy!

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