Entertaining clash between Swansea and Everton ends goalless
Published 19/09/2015 | 17:20
Everton extended their unbeaten league record against Swansea but failed to find the killer touch to take all three points at the Liberty Stadium.
The Toffees carried the greatest threat for much of an entertaining contest which somehow remained goalless despite the amount of clear-cut chances created.
But they were probably relieved to take a point when substitute Kevin Mirallas, who had only been on the pitch for 112 seconds, received a straight red card for a dangerous tackle on Modou Barrow.
Ross Barkley shone throughout but Everton could not take advantage of his excellent approach play, with Romelu Lukaku the biggest culprit in front of goal for the visitors.
Swansea also had their moments to bounce back from last weekend's shock defeat at Watford with Tim Howard saving smartly on a few occasions - but Everton might have had strong claims for a penalty when Ashley Williams appeared to trip Steven Naismith late on.
Everton's proud record of never having lost to Swansea in the league stood at 20 games but the Toffees suffered a blow before kick-off when Seamus Coleman failed to recover from a hamstring injury.
Tyias Browning was handed his first Premier League start at right-back and with Brendan Galloway, who was only making his seventh top-flight appearance, on the left there was an inexperienced look about Everton's full-backs.
It was an area Swansea were no doubt keen to exploit, particularly as Jefferson Montero had returned to the left side of their attack following a thigh problem, and Browning was given an indication of the task ahead of him inside five seconds when the Ecuadorian flier went past him.
Everton were desperate to protect Browning whenever they could, often ending up with three or four players around Montero, but it was the visitors who produced the first moments of real danger.
Williams got in the way of a Lukaku free-kick flying towards the Swansea goal and Phil Jagielka's headed over the resulting corner from Barkley.
Swansea's early momentum had been slowed by a head injury to Andre Ayew, the Ghanaian able to continue after treatment, but Bafetimbi Gomis went close twice in the space of 60 seconds.
A frantic first half came to a stop when Barry blocked Gomis' shot and the second period started in similar fashion when Barkley beat Ayew and Arouna Kone failed to prod home his inviting cross.
More teasing approach work from Barkley almost ended with Galloway's first Everton goal after he had turned smartly inside the area, while Lukaku failed to reward the visitors' growing dominance by firing wildly over with only Fabianski to beat.
Gylfi Sigurdsson sent a Swansea free-kick into the side netting but Everton almost took the lead when Barkley's deflected shot fell to Lukaku and Williams covered his goalkeeper well to hack off the line.
But Howard was also needed at the other end as he batted away firm drives from Montero and Gomis to ensure the Everton defence remains unbreached away from home in the league this season.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"@robbiemustoe: John Stones.... very, very impressive right now. Could play in any team. Any team." - Former Premier League veteran Robbie Mustoe stops short of naming a team, any team.
Lukasz Fabianski: 7 (out of 10)
Kyle Naughton: 6
Federico Fernandez: 7
Ashley Williams: 7
Neil Taylor: 7
Jack Cork: 8
Jonjo Shelvey: 6
Gylfi Sigurdsson: 5
Jefferson Montero: 6
Andre Ayew: 6
Bafetimbi Gomis: 6
Ki Sung-yueng: 6
Modou Barrow: 6
Tim Howard: 7
Tyias Browning: 7
John Stones: 7
Phil Jagielka: 7
Brendan Galloway: 7
Gareth Barry: 7
James McCarthy: 6
Arouna Kone: 6
Ross Barkley: 8
Steven Naismith: 6
Romelu Lukaku: 5
Gerard Deulofeu: 6
Kevin Mirallas: 3
ROSS BARKLEY: Good news for England as confidence is oozing from every pore of the Everton man. Excelling in the free role handed to him and pulled the strings again as the Toffees' went in search of a goal. Unfortunate not to claim the assist his approach play deserved but Swansea just could not get near to him at times and now looking like a real star in the making.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Neither goalkeeper looked in the mood to be beaten but Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was left helpless when Barkley's deflected shot fell kindly to Lukaku. The big Belgian got a toe to the ball to lift it over Fabianski but the Poland international was saved by his ever-alert skipper Williams, who had got back on the line to clear. Brilliant defending.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Case of the master against the apprentice as Swansea boss Garry Monk came up against his former manager Roberto Martinez at the Liberty Stadium. Monk was attempting to mastermind Swansea's first-ever victory over Everton in league combat but he came up against opponents who were well-organised and slick on the counter-attack. Excellent tactical exercise was halved.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
There was plenty of decent defending on show with two of the best centre-back partnerships in the Premier League on view. But some of the finishing was careless to say the least with both Gomis and Lukaku failing to find the target when well placed. A cooler head in such circumstances may well have unlocked the defensive door and found thw way to goal.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Hull v Swansea (Capital One Cup, Tuesday, 22 September)
Reading v Everton (Capital One Cup, Tuesday, 22 September)