Thursday 22 February 2018

Steven Naismith hat-trick lifts Everton past champions Chelsea

Steven Naismith, left, was the hat-trick hero for Everton
Steven Naismith, left, was the hat-trick hero for Everton

Steven Naismith struck a brilliant hat-trick as stuttering Barclays Premier League champions Chelsea crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Everton.

Naismith, a ninth-minute replacement for the injured Muhamed Besic, scored twice within moments of coming on as Everton turned up the heat on Jose Mourinho's out-of-form side.

Nemanja Matic pulled one back with a fine strike before half-time at Goodison Park but Naismith rewarded the hard-working Toffees by completing his treble after 82 minutes.

It was the first time a Mourinho Chelsea side had conceded a hat-trick and the result left them with just four points from five games.

Further frustration for Mourinho was that John Stones, the England centre-half he tried so hard to buy over the summer, was outstanding in Everton's back four.

The hosts' afternoon actually began badly as Besic, making his first Premier League appearance of the season, was hurt in an early challenge by Kurt Zouma.

His misfortune proved a blessing in disguise for Everton, however, as his replacement Naismith ran the Londoners ragged.

There was an early warning for the visitors as Naismith went close to getting on the end of a dangerous Seamus Coleman cross.

That was not heeded as Naismith was allowed to turn after 17 minutes, feed Brendan Galloway on the left and then get in the box to head home a return cross.

It could have got considerably worse for Chelsea but goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, in for the injured Thibaut Courtois, brilliantly saved from an Arouna Kone header and a long-range James McCarthy strike.

But Everton kept attacking and gained further reward when Naismith found the target with a powerful effort from distance.

Chelsea were rocking and there were possible signs of frustration as Coleman caught a stray arm from Diego Costa in the face.

The champions did eventually start to settle and play some neat football up to the Everton box.

They hauled themselves back into the game with a stunning long-range strike from Matic after 36 minutes - his first Premier League goal since scoring in Chelsea's 6-3 win at the same venue last year.

Eden Hazard then had two chances blocked and John Terry, back from suspension, headed narrowly over as Chelsea finished the first half in the ascendancy.

Chelsea were a more forceful proposition after the break and controlled much more possession.

But Everton's back four, superbly led by Stones and Phil Jagielka, held firm and gave their side a platform to launch some counter-attacks.

Romelu Lukaku broke away from Branislav Ivanovic but shot at Begovic. Everton appealed for a back-pass as the ball rebounded off the keeper and back into his arms via Terry's feet but referee Andre Marriner did not see it as deliberate.

Kone also tested Begovic on another counter-attack, but principally their job became defending as Chelsea probed for an equaliser.

But they still struggled to create clear-cut chances and Tim Howard was well protected.

Nasimith applied the killer blow eight minutes from time as he latched on to a through-ball from the excellent Ross Barkley, took the ball wide of Begovic and then fired home from a tight angle.

Stones ended the game at right-back after Coleman went off injured but Everton held out.


"I still believe Chelsea will stay up!" - Former Everton striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker.



Tim Howard: 6 (out of 10)

Seamus Coleman: 8

John Stones: 9

Phil Jagielka: 7

Brendon Galloway: 7

James McCarthy: 7

Gareth Barry: 7

Arouna Kone: 7

Ross Barkley: 8

Muhamed Besic: 1

Romelu Lukaku: 7


Steven Naismith: 10

Aaron Lennon: 5

Ramiro Funes Mori: 6


Asmir Begovic: 8

Branislav Ivanovic: 5

John Terry: 7

Kurt Zouma: 7

Cesar Azpilicueta: 7

Nemanja Matic: 7

Jon Obi Mikel: 5

Pedro: 6

Cesc Fabregas: 6

Eden Hazard: 7

Diego Costa: 6


Kenedy: 5

Radamel Falcao: 5

Willian: 5


Steven Naismith. Sending Naismith on so early in the game was hardly planned, but it worked perfectly for Everton as he struck twice within moments of coming on. He did well to start the move that led to his first and his second was a brilliant strike. He completed the classic hat-trick of goals with header, left foot and right foot with a fine effort late on.


Nemanja Matic. Chelsea were overrun in the first 25 minutes and could easily have been 4-0 down. Matic's superb goal settled the visitors and got them back into the game, making for a different contest.


Branislav Ivanovic's poor recent form meant Everton boss Roberto Martinez might target the Chelsea right. Muhamed Besic was initially the man entrusted and Kevin Mirallas might have been a more obvious replacement when he went off, but Naismith proved the right man. Jose Mourinho's use of Nemanja Matic and Jon Obi Mikel in a more defensive-minded side did not work and even though they came back into the game, the frontmen failed to create enough chances.


Diego Costa. His ability is undoubted but, again, when the game was getting away from Chelsea he resorted to some more rugged tactics. Seamus Coleman caught his arm in his face. It was unnecessary.


Swansea v Everton (Premier League, September 19)

Chelsea v Maccabi Tel Aviv (Champions League, September 16)

Mourinho insists he is not happy with results, but will not blame his players.

He told BT Sport: "I am champion, the players are the champions, the way they are playing is not as bad as the results but in every single game things are going against us.

"We have to cope with it, football is about results. It's easy to say and I agree completely, but results are too bad.

"I don't blame my players and I don't blame myself. I don't accept the results, I am responsible for the team, I am not happy with the situation and I am not happy with myself.

"I am with the players, I cannot be against them, I cannot have a bad feeling with them, that's what makes me happy. I am happy that tomorrow I have to face them again and train with them and prepare them for the next game.

"I am sorry, until somebody wins the league we are the champions.

"I am not feeling any pressure. The results are the worst results ever in my career. I am not happy but I am coping well with the situation. The priority is to keep doing what we are doing, the players are feeling enough sadness."

Naismith's heroics represent a turnaround in fortune for the Scot at Goodison Park as he nearly left on deadline day.

"We've got a strong squad of players and unfortunately for me at the start of the season I have not played," he said. "You've got to be ready and today was my chance and I have been able to take it which was good.

"We have started well and building from the international break was important and I have done that.

"There was a bit of interest, it is hard when you're not playing but the manager wanted to keep me and hopefully I have shown him my worth today."

Press Association

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