Sport Soccer

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Barry hits bullseye as dominant Everton coast

Everton 2 Norwich City 0

Norwich City's Javier Garrido tackles Everton's Seamus Coleman yesterday
Norwich City's Javier Garrido tackles Everton's Seamus Coleman yesterday

Si Hughes

The news that Ross Barkley is suffering from a suspected broken toe marred what was otherwise another encouraging afternoon for Everton.

Barkley, who has been making a strong case for a place in England manager Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad, was unable to play here after suffering the injury during the FA Cup third-round victory over Queens Park Rangers last weekend.

"We are going to assess him and it seems he is going to be out for a while. It could be broken," said Roberto Martinez, the Everton manager, after the game.

"We are going to assess it to see if there was displacement or not. It is a very similar incident to the one Leighton Baines had. Before we say exactly what it is, that is the fear, that there could be a fracture in his toe."

Before kick-off, Ireland's Aiden McGeady was unveiled to the Goodison Park crowd after Everton's board agreed to sanction an outlay of about £2m for a player out of contract at the end of the season.

Martinez reasoned McGeady's recruitment from Spartak Moscow was "a priority" after he decided to allow Nikica Jelavic to join Hull City for £5m. "Aiden is someone who enjoys the one v one situation and can play on both flanks," the Toffees boss said.

Martinez will take both Barkley and McGeady -- who has not completed 90 minutes since mid-November when the Russian season closed for the winter -- to a training camp in Tenerife, the Canary islands, this week.

"The trip will allow Ross to increase his Vitamin D intake," Martinez added.

"Being young, I'm confident he can heal quickly."

Versatility is something Martinez needs and he hopes McGeady can fill a number of positions, but he also wants to add another striker to his squad before the transfer window closes.

The absence of key players such as Barkley did not affect Everton in this encounter. The hosts were utterly dominant; the visitors utterly grim.

Everton attacked at will. Norwich let them.

The opening goal was spectacular. Gareth Barry emerged from deep in Everton's midfield. He struck a left-foot shot. It flew like a dart to bring up the 50th goal of his Premier League career.

Norwich contributed nothing in the first half. They did not press at all.

There were too many moments like the one where centre-back John Stones was allowed to bring down a miskicked Tim Howard clearance in two touches without being stopped, despite being on the edge of his own area. Yet for all of Everton's possession, it only became 2-0 via a free-kick.

This one was struck brilliantly by Kevin Mirallas into the top corner in front of the Gwladys Street end.

It was only when the game seemed lost that Norwich began to join in. They caused a few problems with crosses, one of which was headed on to a post by Robert Snodgrass.

"I thought it was going to be a very difficult game and it proved to be," added Martinez. "I thought Norwich were very brave, playing with two strikers to try to hit us on the counter, so I thought we balanced that really well.

"The amount of opportunities we had, the clinical touch in front of goal was probably missing. But when Norwich had a proper go in the second half, we defended well and we kept an important clean sheet.

"I thought we controlled the game really well and we got three important -- and well-deserved -- points. Some phases of our game were fantastic and some of the play we had was electrifying."

Norwich boss Chris Hughton denied he was feeling any extra pressure. "There is always pressure on managers at whatever stage of a season," he said. "We want to win football matches. There is no greater pressure on myself at this moment than there has always been."

But with his side slipping towards the relegation zone, Hughton accepts results need to improve.

"Yes, very quickly," he said. "That is something we are aware of. With how the league is, we need to start winning games and that means scoring goals.

"It was better than at City and Liverpool," Hughton claimed. "We finished in a good way and that showed character." It was too late by then, though.


Irish Independent

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