Wednesday 24 January 2018

Coleman on mark in rout

Everton 4 Fulham 1

Everton's Seamus Coleman celebrates his goal against Fulham
Everton's Seamus Coleman celebrates his goal against Fulham

Chris Bascombe

Goodison Park is the one venue where it is good to be a loan this Christmas.

Gareth Barry, technically still a Manchester City player, and Romelu Lukaku, of Chelsea, now find themselves scrapping with their parent clubs in the Champion League places.

Everton's 4-1 victory over Fulham, in which Barry claimed his second goal for the club, had the air of routine about it by full-time, but it wasn't so comfortable.

Fortunately for Roberto Martinez it is now an unwritten Premier League law. When Fulham play here, they lose. This was their 21st straight defeat in this stadium.

Rene Meulensteen will see minor shoots of recovery in this defeat, Everton, though, found extra gears when they needed to. Only when Seamus Coleman restored the host's lead 17 minutes from time was Fulham's revival ended. "If you look at the scoreline it looks like we are down on our knees, but that is not the case," said the Dutchman.

Martinez was courteous in victory. "The scoreline was flattering but we deserved to win," said Martinez. "It was difficult because Fulham are a different team to three weeks ago."

Leon Osman gave Everton a first-half lead, but Dimitar Berbatov struck a 66th-minute penalty for a deserved equaliser. Coleman, Barry and Kevin Mirallas responded to keep Fulham in the bottom three, while Everton shoved neighbours Liverpool out of the top four.

After a subdued start it was Osman, recalled in place of the suspended James McCarthy, who took his opportunity with a drop of the shoulder and side-footed finish from the edge of the box on 18 minutes.

He almost volleyed a second before half-time as the home confidence grew, with Deulofeu especially prominent on the right. Sadly, the tricky Spanish teenager had to be substituted in the second half with a hamstring pull.

Meulensteen had the same cause to fear as his predecessor Martin Jol at half-time, especially as Berbatov was running with all the speed of dough rising. The tempo changed in the second half. Fulham were unrecognisable.

Scott Parker could have equalised on 48 minutes after Phil Jagielka's poor header fell to the former England midfielder. Tim Howard pushed the resulting strike aside and had to be more alert to prevent a Steve Sidwell equaliser a minute later. The rebound dropped to Alex Kacaniklic who blasted over from six yards out.

The equaliser from the penalty spot was deserved, Barry clumsily tripping Kacaniklic to allow Berbatov to casually slot home.

Everton regained their composure and Coleman was free to tap in at the back post on 73 minutes following Steven Pienaar's cross. Barry scruffily nudged Everton's third before sub Mirallas fired the fourth in injury-time after poor goalkeeping from Maarten Stekelenburg.

Everton stride on. Fulham, encouraged though they were, remain in serious trouble.


Irish Independent

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