Lukaku settles low-quality game

The team remained unchanged from the bore draw at Middlesbrough prior to the enforced break. The fun quiz in the pub prior to the game was to guess how many ex-Everton players would feature in the Sunderland line-up, the answer of which turned out to be the two most recently departed – Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo. Joleon Lescott suffered the boos from the substitutes bench for probably one last time.

Paul Traill 26/02/2017 13comments  |  Jump to last
Everton 2- 0 Sunderland

As we parked a bit further down the road than we usually do we snaked up a different street towards Goodison Park and stumbled upon a little pub called The Medlock Hotel. We weren't going to go in and were instead going to abide in our more familiar surroundings on County Road, however, we changed our minds last minute and headed in. It proved to be a stellar choice. It's nice and friendly in there and doesn't get as packed as the pubs on County Road. We settled in there for a while until the time came to move on to Goodison Park.

The team remained unchanged from the bore draw at Middlesbrough prior to the enforced break. The fun quiz in the pub prior to the game was to guess how many ex-Everton players would feature in the Sunderland line-up, the answer of which turned out to be the two most recently departed – Darron Gibson and Bryan Oviedo. Joleon Lescott suffered the boos from the substitutes bench for probably one last time. It was heart warming to see Jermaine Defoe carry Bradley Lowery onto the pitch before the game. You have to feel for the poor kid and his family.

Sunderland were well backed by a noisy support but began the game woefully, Everton forcing five corners in the first four minutes - all of which were wasted. Once they did settle however they became as you thought they might - well drilled defensively and tough to break down. The wind played a factor in what was largely dross in the first half. Idrissa Gana Gueye did very well to motor into the penalty area and almost nutmeg Jordan Pickford, but otherwise, it didn't seem as though a breakthrough was forthcoming before half time.

That was until Tom Davies, perhaps accidentally, released Seamus Coleman down the right a fraction too late. He bombed down the flank and pulled a good ball back for Idrissa Gana Gueye who took aim and smashed the ball powerfully past Jordan Pickford. Given his poor, or none existent, record in front of goal in his short Everton career you'd have been forgiven for ducking for cover as he shaped to shoot, but credit to him for such a good hit.

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Looking at the goal again and Darron Gibson may just rue not sliding to take the ball away from Gueye. He was just a fraction away from it with his outstretched boot and a slide definitely would have got to the ball. He had a good game did Darron. I hope Sunderland are able to get him fit on a consistent basis as he's a fine footballer and it would be a shame for that talent to go to waste. At 29 years old, it's not too late for him. Yet.

From what looked to be a stalemate we were ahead and Tom Davies was then unlucky not to double our lead with a speculative half volley which cannoned away off the outside of the post. A great effort from our exciting young gem.

At the break Tommy Wright received a standing ovation from the crowd as he was formally introduced into the Everton hall of fame. Elsewhere young Bradley Lowery stole the show with a series of high fives with supporters in the Family Enclosure and Park End. On the pitch it was nice to see Bryan Oviedo, Kevin Mirallas and Enner Valencia embrace as the players prepared to restart.

The blustery conditions continued to wreak havoc on the pitch and the game couldn't really settle. It was painful viewing at times. Romelu Lukaku forced Jordan Pickford into a decent save as he drove at goal with his right foot and we had survived a couple of handball shouts, one of which perhaps could have been given, but the real flashpoint came on around 78 minutes when Gibson, perhaps illegitimately, robbed Morgan Schneiderlin and Sunderland's break was one. Adnan Januzaj fed Jermaine Defoe who cut inside and thrashed the ball past Joel Robles, and was ever so unlucky to see the ball cannon down off the underside of the crossbar and away.

Rough luck on Sunderland and less than two minutes later things got a lot worse for them when Bryan Oviedo's botched pass was picked up by Kevin Mirrallas. Oviedo realised the gravity of his mistake instantly and sprinted back but it was too late. Mirallas played through his compatriot Romelu Lukaku, and once Romelu is away, he seldom gets caught. Fair play to Oviedo, he did his best to recover and was unlucky to see his attempted block bobble up and into the goal. Our ex-Costa Rican was flat out, gutted, on the floor for some time following the goal. Meanwhile, Romelu went to the substitutes bench to share his celebration with Duncan Ferguson – the significance being that the goal had equalled Duncan Ferguson's Everton record of 60 Premier League goals.

That was Sunderland spent. They couldn't lift themselves from this and substitute Enner Valencia almost flattered us with a third before the full-time whistle, but was denied by Jordan Pickford. Full time followed, off we trudged.

Nine games unbeaten in the Premier League then. We've quite the test to make that 10 games unbeaten next weekend.

Robles: He had little to do throughout, but six clean sheets in the nine league games during our unbeaten run tells its own story. 6

Baines: Did well. His usual consistent self. 7

Williams: He kept Jermaine Defoe in check in the main. One of his more impressive performances for us yet. 7

Funes Mori: There's always a question mark for me and I just can't let myself be convinced by him somehow. He was culpable prior to Jermaine Defoe hitting the underside of the crossbar, as he gave Morgan Schneiderlin a very loose pass but we got away with it. Conversely, six clean sheets out of nine would suggest our defence must be doing something right. 6

Coleman: Had a good game, complimented by a good assist. 7

Gueye: I thought he was a bit off colour at Middlesbrough and reckoned he might have been left out of this one. He wasn't, and it was just as well as he performed very well and will be delighted with his excellent first goal for the club. Well done Idrissa. 8

Schneiderlin: I can seldom recall too many players who have come in and hit the ground running so spectacularly. Maybe Nikica Jelavic did so but he didn't sustain it. Morgan impresses me eminently. He's a leader, a fighter, tough in the tackle and with quality on the ball. He seems to have been accepted pretty quickly by his teammates. Basically, he is the midfield general we haven't had for as long as I can remember. He's captain material. He's a star and he's going to be a big player for us for a good few years to come. My man of the match. 8

Davies: I thought he had a fairly quiet game, but when I caught up with a couple of mates who'd watch the match on TV they felt he had an excellent game so it shows what I know! 6

Barkley: Not his most effective game but he did okay. 6

Lookman: Not at the races today but you'll get this with young players. You have to let them learn. 4

Lukaku: Wasn't in sparkling form but he did a decent job of occupying the centre-backs and he scored another goal so you've got to be pleased with his contribution. 17 Premier League goals for Romelu now this season and he's joint top of the goal charts. It would be great to have the Premier League's top goalscorer wearing an Everton shirt. 7

Mirallas (for Lookman): Had a decent impact on the game and set up the second goal. 6

Valencia (for Davies): Did OK. Perhaps should have scored near the end. 6

McCarthy (for Barkley): Brought on to help see the game out. 6

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Reader Comments (13)

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Bobby Mallon
1 Posted 26/02/2017 at 19:59:20
Giving Funes Mori a 6 – what a disgrace. This boy plays for Argentina all the time, he was class yesterday. To me, he is miles better than Stones and he went for £47½ million.
Brian Porter
2 Posted 26/02/2017 at 20:31:40
I have to agree with you, Bobby. I get tired of people having a go at Funes Mori.

Six clean sheets in 9 games shows how much our defence has improved with Funes Mori and Williams featuring in every one. To me, that says we have made great strides defensively with those two building an effective partnership in the centre of our defence.

Quite right, he's a first choice for Argentina and they are ranked 2nd in the world. Like you, I thought he had a great game yesterday and a 6 is a laughable rating.

Peter Anthony
3 Posted 26/02/2017 at 20:51:07
I trust in Koeman's judgment of a player and his potential. In centre-back terms, Funes Mori is still young and improving. If Koeman believes in him, that is good enough for me.

Argentina national team regular, young, improving. He is surely more asset than liability to our team's present and future.

Colin Williams
4 Posted 26/02/2017 at 20:59:58
Agree with the lads above about Funes Mori. Also, strange scores for Ross and Tom – 6!!!... both at least minimum of 7, if not 7.5 performances.

Giving the three subs the same score as Tom and Ross for performances during the game is crazy. You're saying their game effectiveness during their time on the pitch was the same as the two lads... sure about that?

Sam Morrison
5 Posted 26/02/2017 at 22:56:29
Disagree by all means but you can't call Paul's opinion a "disgrace". It's an opinion, for God's sake. And an opinion put in terms that are hardly offensive.

Keep the reports coming, Paul! I didn't manage to catch this one at all so nice to get a taste of it.

Danny Broderick
6 Posted 26/02/2017 at 23:02:19
I thought Funes Mori did okay yesterday, but I do share some of Paul's concerns about him. He is a bit unorthodox as a centre-half. He has a tendency to jump in sometimes, and I still remember him doing the river dance while trying to stop a cross at Watford away. I can't quite get that out of my head when I think of him.

Credit where it's due, though. We are defending well, they only had one chance really, which was when Defoe hit the bar. Funes Mori is in the team on merit, a bit like Robles. There are a few with doubts about both of them, but both are doing well.

Charlie Lloyd
7 Posted 26/02/2017 at 23:47:13
Funes Mori certainly divides opinion.

For me, he's in on merit currently. Jags had a poor few months prior to losing his spot and Holgate is still developing. So he's the best choice really.

However, would I replace him with another centre-back in summer?

Yes, I would.

Paul Kossoff
8 Posted 27/02/2017 at 01:11:53
If it's not been mentioned, Defoe's shot was deflected on to the bar by a last ditch boot from Gaye.

Also, I'm a bit worried at the defenders still thinking they have cart blanche to play as attackers; Funes Mori losing the ball high up on the left wing (he's a centre-half) caused the Defoe chance.

Andy Meighan
10 Posted 27/02/2017 at 07:03:28
Love to know what game you were watching. Funes Mori a 5. He seems to be your whipping boy. But you've gone and contradicted yourself by saying 6 clean sheets in 9 games so the defence must be doing something right. He's developing a good relationship with Williams now so lay off him because it's getting a bit tiresome.

Big test next week but one we won't be scared of. I'd agree with your assessment of Schneiderlin though, who was excellent.

Paul Mackie
11 Posted 27/02/2017 at 09:10:18
It was interesting to see Lukaku's comments after the game about how much working with Big Dunc has improved his game. I certainly don't remember him saying that while Martinez was in charge, seems like Koeman is actually using him!
Roger Trenwith
12 Posted 27/02/2017 at 15:28:02
Yes, the defence must be doing "something right", but other than Man City, who have we faced in the current run? Spurs will be a real test for the defence; if they come through that with a point or better, then the misgivings I have about the CB pairing (one too slow, and the other too unpredictable, though he seems to be improving) may have to be revised.

If we are aiming for a Champions League place next season, the CB positions definitely need looking at imo.

Stephen Brown
13 Posted 27/02/2017 at 18:28:21
I love the fact Paul gives player ratings as it always creates a debate!

I love your reports, Paul – keep up the good work! Can't believe you only gave Davies a 6 mind!!

Tony Abrahams
14 Posted 27/02/2017 at 18:52:20
I think Ferguson, being a first-team coach, was more of a token gesture from Martinez with rumours that his nickname was The BBC Man (balls, bibs and cones) but he seems to be a lot more involved now, which must be good news for the forwards at the club.

Funes Mori must be doing something right but I've never saw a top level player, under-hit, the ball as much as this lad. Nothing wrong with his accuracy, but I just wish he would clear the last midfielder, more often, when he tries to knock a forward pass?

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