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Venue: Goodison Park, Liverpool
Premier League
 Saturday 18 April 2015; 3:00pm
1 0
 Mirallas (29')
Half Time: 1 - 0
Attendance: 39,496
Fixture 32
Referee: Mike Jones

Match Report

In the wake of the infamous Kevin Mirallas penalty incident against West Bromwich Albion back in January, Roberto Martinez was emphatic in his declaration that such a situation would not be repeated. "Leighton Baines is on penalties," the manager insisted after the Belgian had elected to take a first-half spot kick and the missed, most likely costing the Blues victory in that game.

Mirallas scored at Goodison Park from open play this afternoon to secure a victory over relegation-threatened Burnley that was a good deal more comfortable than the narrow scoreline suggests but not before another penalty farce had raised more questions about the level of leadership in a team that has had its share of problems this season.

Aaron Lennon, the torch-bearer during Everton's early charge with a series of purposeful and pacey runs, had barrelled through the visitors' defence in the 10th minute and been chopped down by David Jones with a challenge that referee Mike Jones deemed to have continued into the box. With Romelu Lukaku on the substitutes' bench, all eyes turned to Baines to assume responsibilities for the penalty but it was Ross Barkley who took ownership of the ball and whose poor kick was foiled by Tom Heaton in the Clarets' goal.

The 21 year-old's failure from 12 yards proved academic in the end, both in terms of the result and Barkley's own performance which was, on the whole, much improved on the tenatative, unproductive displays that have characterised much of his season. It was his strong run and shot in only the second minute that signalled the home side's early intent, and while Everton's overall performance didn't deliver the kind of entertainment for which a sell-out crowd was no doubt pining, there were promising signs that the current unbeaten run is reviving some of the Blues' attacking belief.

They should have won by more, though, particularly after Ashley Barnes was sent off in first-half stoppage time for the second of two ill-advised late challenges which condemned Sean Dyche's side to playing the entire second period with only 10 men. Everton racked up 21 shots in all over the 90 minutes but carved out few clear-cut chances and provided no ammunition for Lukaku in his bid to reach 20 goals for the season after he was introduced for the last half an hour.

Continuing a theme established early on in the season, Martinez's men often let themselves down with the final ball or allowed promising counter-attack opportunities to fizzle out with poor decision-making at the crucial moment. Arouna Kone, starting his fifth League game in a row but again struggling to justify his inclusion, wasted one such chance by planting the ball into the goalkeeper's arms while Mirallas wrecked an even better situation with an over-elaborate heel flick when simply moving the ball on to his better-placed team-mate would have put him in on goal. Just two examples where smarter decisions could have yielded a better chances and, perhaps, the further goals that Everton's dominance merited.

Even so, Martinez's decision to finally field two wide players and allow Barkley to roam in his preferred role off the striker, coupled with his apparent directive to James McCarthy to get further forward, demonstrated some welcome flexibility from the manager, even if the ruthelessness and desire to really put consistently put teams to the sword still hasn't yet returned.

The better balance to the line-up didn't quite translate into a mirrored raids down the respective flanks by Baines and Seamus Coleman the former appeared to be holding back, perhaps because of a shortage of cover from Mirallas while Lennon's ceaseless industry gave the Irishman greater license to bomb forward.

It was Coleman's cross that Heaton could only palm into the path of Baines with a quarter of an hour gone but the keeper recovered to parry the left back's powerful shot. Lennon, meanwhile, was finding joy drifting off the wing into a central position and when Barkley picked him out with a smart pass, he stepped inside his marker and drove a shot just wide from 20 yards.

The Toffees were exhibiting a pleasing quickness and determination in their play and it was rewarded just before the half-hour mark with a fine move that ended with Mirallas rifling home at the second attempt. Lennon cut inside once more and found Kone who in turn laid it off to James McCarthy and it was his centre that Mirallas initially mis-kicked before he buried it past Heaton to make it 1-0.

Everton's propensity to throw away a lead almost reared its head a minute later as Danny Ings' clipped ball carved the home defence open but David Jones lashed his shot from the angle an inch over the crossbar. It was something of a let-off but it would be as close as Burnley would come to scoring. Gareth Barry, who had a decent game apart from a few poor passes in his own half that went unpunished, snuffed out a chance for Barnes with a last-ditch tackle and the referee waved away penalty claims for a handball by John Stones but the Clarets were surprisingly meek for a team fighting for their Premier League lives.

Their prospects of getting anything of the game looked to have evaporated when Barnes received his marching orders for catching Coleman with a late tackle; as it turned out, they would remain in with a shout to the final whistle because Everton weren't able to kill the game off in the second half.

It wasn't for want of trying, at least in the early stages after half time. Capitalising on the extra man, Baines popped up on the overlap in the 48th minute and centred for Kone who prodded goalwards and forced a good save from Heaton at his near post. The England international then showed terrific awareness six minutes later when he intercepted George Boyd's pass and picked out Kone but the Ivorian went for glory despite McCarthy being better placed and he skied his shot into the stands.

After Mirallas had somewhat fortunately escaped a red card of his own for an ugly high tackle on Boyd, it was Baines again in the 56th minute with a lovely pass inside to Lennon to move it on to McCarthy who tried to pick his spot with a side-foot shot but he put it the wrong side of the post. And Baines forced another save from the 'keeper with a stinging shot 25 yards out, Heaton pushing it away to safety with both hands before Coleman hammered an effort just wide from a similar distance.

Lukaku's arrival offered the potential for greater firepower up front but he would get just one sniff at adding to his tally for the season off Phil Jagielka's long ball forward, a chance that disappeared when he slipped slightly as he tried to bring the ball down and Heaton was able to steal it off him. Instead, it was Barry and McCarthy who almost doubled the lead in the closing stages, the former popping up unmarked at the back post to meet a Baines free kick but his somewhat rushed shot was saved while the latter fizzed an effort of his own half a wide from Barkley's lay-off.

Burnley's late rally was short lived but Ings was left kicking himself for despatching a free header high over Howard's bar and Everton safely saw out stoppage time with Barkley's final effort, a selfish shot that prompted one last save from Heaton with Lukaku unmarked and calling to be played in to his right.

A goal for the Belgian striker would have provided a little more value for money but it proved to be a routine win that brings the Blues' points haul from the last 15 available to 13. It drags Martinez's side to within a couple of points of the top half and keeps alive the more remote hope they could sneak into eighth if they can keep this winning run going.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Romelu Lukaku was only fit enough to make the bench for the visit of Burnley while Mirallas started for the first time in seven weeks, with Arouna Kone leading the line as Osman and Pienaar were out injured.

Burnley kicked off but immediately gave the ball to the home side, and possession football took over for a while until Barkley gave away a foul that came to nothing for the visitors. Barkley them went on a nice run but drove well wide. At the other end, Trippier was getting some good crosses in.

Lennon was looking lively and drove forward, making a shot, but getting fouled in the process, albeit right on the 18-yard line... Penalty, said Mike Jones, a little fortuitously. For some unknown reason, Barkley put the ball on the spot but Heaton guessed the right way and saved his spot-kick, with questions being asked why Leighton Baines did not take it, but the miss will do Barkley's faltering confidence no good at all.

Coleman put in a decent cross that came out to Baines who struck it really well but it was too easy for Heaton to save from a narrow angle. A good move, Barkley forward to Lennon in acres of space, saw the Spurs loan player surge forward and lash his shot just wide, as Everton seemed to be more determined to get the ball forward with a lot more pace. McCarthy was next to gallop forward but his run became stalled.

While Lennon was the spark enlivening Everton, that could not be said for the other winger, Mirallas, who was struggling to get into the game. On the other side, Coleman got in a great cross that Kone went for but Heaton plucked the ball off his head. Barnes then saw yellow, fouling McCarthy from behind.

A determined attack developed after Barkley hounded Arfield and Mirallas got the ball forward through the middle again, but they could not fashion good shot at goal after Kone fired in and the ball pinged around the perimeter of the penalty area.

Another speedy break, involving Lennon again, finally brought a goal, and a nicely worked one it was, Coleman and Kone combining for the ball that went out wide to McCarthy before coming through the crowd to Mirallas who fluffed his first-time shot but had enough about him to drive his second into the corner of the goal.

Jones got free behind the Everton defence and had only Howard to beat but fired over, perhaps a slight touch from the Everton keeper helping it over the bar. Jagielka ran into Ings and the Burnley man went down injured.

Ings and Barnes looked to get in behind the Everton defence but Barry did well to stop Barnes shooting, at the expense of a corner that was headed over by Burnley.

An annoying sequence saw Barkley backtrack and make three backward passes when all the impetus should have been forward, and Howard was almost in trouble with the final backpass, Burnley then having a good spell of attacking as a result.

Kone broke down the left but could only shoot at Heaton as Everton played out added time before the break, but Barnes took down Coleman and got a rather harsh second yellow card.

Against ten men, Everton started the second half brightly, Baines getting down to the byeline and crossing for Kone to clip the ball onto the post, Heaton saving the follow-up. Mirllas got a card for a stupid challenge that caught Boyd's foot. Arfield was next booked after a cynical foul on Barkley.

Baines produced a lovely clip over the top for Mirallas to pull back for Kone, and then Baines set Kone up again but the striker lashed his shot over. Then an excellent move, Lennon around the area to Baines, Mirallas, Lennon cut back perfectly for McCarthy to sidefoot, surely a goal! No, driven inches wide!!

Everton were getting plenty of opportunity to get forward, Barkley playing a great ball to Mirallas but what he contrived to do with the ball at that point is a mystery to everyone watching. Lucas Jutkiewicz, back at Goodison, came on for Vokes, while Lukaku replaced Mirallas.

Everton got a good free-kick when Barkley was fouled but Baines drove the ball into the Burnley wall. Kone was giving the wall away at will, but Coleman won a corner that was cycled round before Baines himself lashed a fearsome shot at Heaton.

Lukaku tried to set up Kone but the ball went out to Lennon whose shot was partially blocked and Heaton saved once again. Coleman was next to shoot but his effort was always curling away.

A fantastic ball over the top but Lukaku's bizarre first touch saw a brilliant chance for the second goal evaporate instantly in the bright sunshine. Baines was then blocked by Duff and swung in the kick from wide left, to the far post where Barry was all alone and he calmly passed it back to Heaton rather than burst the roof of the net. It seemed as if no-one wanted to score that second goal...

Naismith replaced the hugely disappointing Kone, who had seen yet another game pass him by without producing the magic of two seasons ago. McCarthy lashed another shot inches wide of the far post with Heaton beaten.

Another good forward passing move down the middle ended abruptly when this time Nasmith spooned the ball to nowhere. Burnley went straight up the other end and Ings got in a free header but powered it well over as Everton looked to be doing their utmost to squander yet another winning position as the minutes ticked away.

Burnley kept pushing, forcing a corner, as McCarthy gave way for a brief cameo from Mo Besic. But Burnley continued to press. Everton finally moved the ball to the other end and won a corner into four minutes of added time but the ball just would not run for the Everton attackers, although Barkley did run and shoot, Heaton batting down another effort on target but just too close to his body.

Everton had huffed and puffed with no real end product in the second half, which saw a win secured that finally took them above the 40-point mark with another less-than impressive performance in a season that continues to frustrate long-suffering Blues fans.

Michael Kenrick


Match Preview

With six games left and 18 points still left to play for, Everton's quest to finish in the top half of the Premier League returns home for back-to-back home games against relegation-threatened Burnley and Champions League-chasing Manchester United.

Sean Dyche's side are up first as the Clarets bid for a victory that would move them out of an increasingly congested drop zone. They come into the weekend lying second from bottom but, with only one other team in the bottom six in League action this weekend because of the FA Cup, they can strike a psychological blow with a good result at Goodison Park.

Effectively safe from any threat from relegation themselves, Everton are looking upwards at the five-point gap to Stoke in 10th knowing that a continuation of their four-match unbeaten run will give them a chance to bridge it if results fall favourably elsewhere.

Roberto Martinez should be boosted by the return of Romelu Lukaku who has missed the last two matches with a hamstring injury. The Blues' leading scorer has trained well all week and should be passed fully fit to play. Arouna Kone, who has struggled to make an impact in his stead, is the likely man to give way.

Aiden McGeady is also in line again for a recall after recovering from knee and back problems in recent weeks but he will have to dislodge Aaron Lennon from the right wing slot and will also be competing with Kevin Mirallas for a place in the starting XI.

Lennon marked another decent display with his second Everton goal at Swansea last weekend while Mirallas was only given five minutes at the end of the 1-1 draw.

Leon Osman will undergo a late fitness test on the groin strain that forced him off after just half an hour at the Liberty Stadium but his replacement Steven Pienaar is a good bet to play from the start after coming through an hour without suffering any problems from his own various complaints that have sidelined him for much of the campaign.

Elsewhere in the side, while few changes are expected, there could be a recall for Steven Naismith, possibly in place of Ross Barkley. Tony Hibbert, Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo are definitely ruled out.

Burnley will be scrapping for their lives but while they held Champions-elect Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge two months ago and came away from the Etihad Stadium with a 2-2 draw in December, they haven't won away from home since beating Stoke 2-1 back in November.

Their last two fixtures on the road have ended in 2-0 defeats to Southampton and Liverpool and if Everton can click the way they did against Newcastle and the Saints in recent weeks, they should be able to overcome any opposition Dyche's men can provide, however spirited.

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2014-15 Reports Index
< Swansea (A) Man Utd (H) >
EVERTON (4-5-1)
  McCarthy (Besic 88')
  Mirallas (Lukaku 61')
  Kone (Naismith 80')
  Subs not used
  Gibson (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Pienaar (injured)
  Duffus (injured)
  Long (injured)
  Lundstram (loan)
  McAleny (loan)
  Pennington (loan)
  Grant (loan)
  Junior (loan)
BURNLEY (4-4-2)
  Boyd (Wallace 84')
  Jones (Taylor 84')
  Vokes (Jutkiewicz 59')
  Subs not used

Premier League Scores
Chelsea 1-0 Man United
C Palace 0-2 West Brom
Everton 1-0 Burnley
Leicester 2-0 Swansea
Stoke City 2-1 So'hampton
Man City 2-0 West Ham
Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham

Team Pts
1 Chelsea 76
2 Arsenal 66
3 Manchester United 65
4 Manchester City 64
5 Liverpool 57
6 Tottenham Hotspur 57
7 Southampton 56
8 Swansea City 47
9 Stoke City 46
10 West Ham United 43
11 Crystal Palace 42
12 Everton 41
13 West Bromwich Albion 36
14 Newcastle United 35
15 Aston Villa 32
16 Sunderland 29
17 Hull City 28
18 Leicester City 28
19 Queens Park Rangers 26
20 Burnley 26


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