Osman has the final say to end Everton drought
Everton 1 Norwich 1
Published 18/12/2011 | 05:00
It took them 272 minutes. But finally Everton's long wait for a goal came to an end as impressive Leon Osman produced the touch that took Royston Drenthe's initial shot in, beyond goalkeeper John Ruddy, and earned a deserved equaliser for the home side.
The relief cannot disguise their finishing deficiencies though. Louis Saha missed his chances while Tim Cahill was virtually anonymous. It meant that until the late leveller, Norwich had looked on course for a smash-and-grab victory, as bullish and bustling Grant Holt produced a rare moment of fleet-footedness with a neat turn and finish to put his side into an early lead.
Ruddy, would have been particularly frustrated by the equaliser, having produced a solid display against his former club.
The introduction of Drenthe, back from injury, and Denis Stracqualursi, were the decisive factors in sharpening Everton's attack late on. Drenthe almost won the game at the death -- only to be denied by another Ruddy intervention.
"We deserved three points but we got one," said Everton manager David Moyes.
So Everton were again left frustrated by their lack of incisiveness in front of goal, but it is a touchy subject for their manager. "I keep being told that in the last couple of games we've had no shots on goal," he added. "Today we had 15 and they had one. We've done that quite often this season. We have been playing okay, but not scoring."
In fairness to Moyes, his side attacked spiritedly from the start despite their recent lack of goals. Marouane Fellaini had an effort smothered by Ruddy then Russell Martin was forced to clear a curling Osman strike off the line.
But Holt claimed a 28th-minute lead against the run of play. David Fox launched a deep free-kick into the Everton area and Steve Morison hooked the ball towards Holt, on the edge of the six-yard box. Holt, with his back to goal, swivelled round his marker, John Heitinga, and steered the ball into the far corner.
"It was a brilliant finish," said Norwich manager Paul Lambert, who was rewarded for starting with both Holt and Morison again. "I thought those two lads deserved a go," he added.
Saha had a shot scrambled away then sent an angled drive wide before Fellaini appeared to strike Holt while challenging for a high ball, with the Norwich striker responding similarly. Both escaped punishment.
Everton were finally rewarded when Drenthe produced a low, 18-yard shot that Osman diverted in. Curiously, Lambert said he was not present to see the goal -- but would not elaborate on the reasons why.
After the 81st minute equaliser, Drenthe nearly won it for Everton with an excellent long-range effort that Ruddy palmed away.
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