Off-key Blues hold off profligate Swansea

, 22 March, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
Everton 3 - 2 Swansea City
Everton registered their eighth successive home win in all competitions and prolonged their historical dominance over Swansea City but it was an uncomfortably narrow victory in the final reckoning.

Thanks to a superb striker's goal by Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley's first in the League since December, the Blues put enough goals on the board to earn the three points and held off a late rally by the visitors who missed a couple of gilt-edged chances in the second half.

Swansea started brightly, enjoying plenty of possession but it was Everton who carved out the first clear-cut opening, Barkley slicing off his shin from a good position at the end of a good move involving Lukaku and Seamus Coleman.

Roberto Martinez's men were handed the platform they needed to assert some control over the game in the 19th minute, though, when John Stones' well-placed ball forward released Barkley into space and he sold Chico Flores with a dummy, prompting the defender to clumsily bring him down just inside the box.

Leighton Baines stepped up to take the resulting penalty and buried it confidently past Michel Vorm to make it 1-0.

Swansea were level 12 minutes later, though, with their best move of the half, Wayne Routledge clipping the ball over the home defence to Angel Rangel on the far side of the area and he picked out Bony who converted from close range.

It was more or less all Swansea from then until half time, with the Blues restricted to just one shot on target in the first 45 minutes, and Pablo Hernandez came within a couple of feet of putting the visitors ahead when his free kick took a heavy deflection off James McCarthy and flew wide of the far post.

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Everton's best spell of the match came in the quarter of an hour after half time and, after Sylvain Distin had gone close to scoring a rare goal, they capitalised clinically by surging into a two-goal lead.

Their pressure told in the 53rd minute when Kevin Mirallas delivered a low cross into the perfect spot behind the Swansea defence and Lukaku was on hand to lunge forward and score his 12th of the season with his extended leg.

2-1 became 3-1 five minutes later when a corner whipped in from the Everton left eluded everyone but Barkley in front of goal and he stooped to head home.

Swansea responded purposefully, though, and Tim Howard was called into back-to-back saves to paw Bony's header away and then deny Pablo Hernandez's scuffed shot from the angle.

And when Bony put Rangel in the clear a few minutes later, the Catalan fullback wasted the opportunity and failed to punish similar profligacy by Mirallas at the other end by allowing Howard to close him down and make the save.

One more great save by Howard, leading by example with the Captain's armband, to stop shot Hernandez's effort and a block by Distin that sent Michu's shot over the crossbar preserved the two-goal cushion but Everton remained vulnerable and gave up a second goal two minutes into injury time. Ashley Williams got in front of Lukaku to head home a corner from the Swansea right but it would prove to be a mere consolation.

The win pushes the Blues into fifth place above Tottenham Hotspur who will once again have played a game more after their match tomorrow. The focus now moves to Tuesday's important trip to St James' Park to face erratic Newcastle United.

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