Sunday 24 September 2017

Naismith buries Chelsea to get Goodison rocking

Everton’s Steven Naismith wheels away in delight after scoring what proved to be the only goal of the game against Chelsea
Everton’s Steven Naismith wheels away in delight after scoring what proved to be the only goal of the game against Chelsea

Everton gained their first win of the season at the expense of Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, unexpectedly inflicting a first league defeat of the coach's second spell with the London club.

Playing with pride and a sense of purpose that supporters were pleased to see has survived from the David Moyes era, Roberto Martinez's side refused to be overawed and simply made more of their chances. Chelsea created more chances, without managing to match the home side's attacking conviction which, by the end, was considerable.

With Ramires setting up the first chance of the game for Samuel Eto'o after just five minutes, Chelsea attacked confidently and looked to have too many tricky ball carriers for the Everton defence to deal with, never more so than when Juan Mata skipped elegantly away from attempted tackles by Leon Osman and Sylvain Distin and was only stopped by the solid presence of Gareth Barry.

Everton were almost being forced to play on the counter, though that suits them quite well, and Nikica Jelavic brought the first save of the game from Petr Cech with a header from a Steven Naismith cross.

Eto'o put his first serious shot into the top tier of the Gwladys Street stand, which takes some doing and amused the locals no end, before missing the best chance of the first half from much closer to goal.

When Tim Howard was put under pressure from a backpass and gave the ball straight to Andre Schurrle, it appeared all Eto'o had to do was tap the latter's square ball into empty net. Fortunately for Everton, Barry arrived just in time and one debutant was foiled by another, the Manchester City loanee just managing to get a foot in to block the shot.

In keeping with the pattern of the game Everton broke straight down the field and set up the next chance, Kevin Mirallas turning up on the right to pick out Naismith with an accurate low pass, only to see a snatched shot miss the target from a promising position.

Perhaps realising that Everton could actually have taken the lead despite being outplayed for most of the first half, Chelsea stepped up their efforts before the interval, creating chances for Ramires, Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic without making their evident superiority count.

They were left regretting that when Everton scored with virtually the last kick of the half. Chelsea switched off twice, their minds already on the interval, first to allow Ross Barkley and Osman to find some space on the right and then when the latter's cross was reached by Jelavic beyond the far post. It appeared Jelavic was too wide and too close to the goal line to present a direct threat, but what he could still do was reach the ball and keep it in play, and Chelsea could only stand and watch as his header back across goal was easily turned past Cech by Naismith.

Eto'o might have reacted more quickly at the beginning of the second half when Howard failed to hold an Eden Hazard shot and he could not quite fasten on to the rebound. The visitors were no longer playing as neatly and imaginatively as they had in the first half. They resorted to more crosses, which Distin and Phil Jagielka found fairly easy to deal with.

Mourinho introduced Frank Lampard and Oscar after an hour, at the expense of Mata and Schurrle, shuffling his midfield options and keeping Fernando Torres on the bench until 20 minutes from the end. Martinez responded by replacing his main striker with a midfielder, Jelavic making way to allow Ireland's James McCarthy a debut.

Chelsea subsided quite limply as the game neared its conclusion, and though Everton began rather tentatively, by the end they looked the team in charge, and almost had a second when Leighton Baines struck the bar with a late free-kick.

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