Steven Pienaar scored the decisive goal within 10 seconds of coming onto the pitch to help Everton overcome Hull City 2-1 at Goodison Park.
The win for the Toffies maintained their impressive unbeaten home record and saw them climb into 6th position in the table. Elsewhere for Hull, the defeat put an end to their four game unbeaten streak in the Premier League, seeing them drop to 9th in the standings.
Both sides had to contend with the disruption of the international schedule with players departing to represent their countries ahead of the World Cup. In the league, Everton were looking to get back to winning ways following their 3-1 away defeat at the hands of Manchester City. Hull meanwhile, were looking to build upon their 0-0 home draw with Aston Villa but travelling to Goodison Park was never going to be an easy fixture.
Everton suffered a blow during the international break with the news that midfielder Darron Gibson had ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament during the Republic of Ireland’s 3-1 victory over Kazakhstan – leaving him out of action for a considerable amount of time. Roberto Martinez did have better news with the fitness of Steven Pienaar, who was now able to take his place on the substitutes bench replacing Gibson. Gareth Barry came back into the starting eleven for Everton with Steven Naismith dropped to the bench.
Steve Bruce saw none of his troops pick up injuries on international duty and had positive news on the fitness of Robbie Brady following his hernia operation. I was as surprised as many when Brady was able to start the game in place of Stephen Quinn who found a place on the bench in an otherwise unchanged team.
Everton: Howard – Coleman – Jagielka – Distin – Baines – Osman – McCarthy – Barkley – Barry – Miralles – Lukaku
Subs: Robles – Jelavic – Kone – Deulofeu – Naismith – Pienaar – Stones
Hull City: McGregor – Rosenior – Davies – Faye – Figueroa – Elmohamady – Huddlestone – Livermore – Brady – Aluko – Graham
Subs: Harper – Bruce – McShane – Quinn – Meyler – Boyd – Sagbo
The Tigers crafted the first half chance when Tom Huddlestone fed Danny Graham through however, with confidence low, the striker looked for the cut-back rather than fire a shot on goal.
The in-form Romelu Lukaku had the first chance of the game for the home side in the 5th minute when he shrugged off the challenge from Curtis Davies towards the right of the box before drilling a shot at the near post of McGregor, whom saved comfortably.
Three minutes later and Everton were ahead in somewhat strange circumstances, a corner was cleared out by Huddlestone which fell to Leon Osman who found Kevin Miralles advancing towards the box. The Belgium then struck a first-time low shot which managed to beat McGregor and find the net. The Scottish international goalkeeper seemed to be a bystander as he watched the ball roll past him. It may have been an error of judgement by the keeper who thought the shot was heading wide. Replays however, showed that Gareth Barry was in an offside position when the ball was stuck and there was a possible case for him slightly touching the ball, in which case it should have been disallowed.
To add insult to literal injury Barry then challenged Graham around the knee leaving the forward in agony. Stretched off to applause from the whole ground, Graham departed to be replaced with Yannick Sagbo in the 15th minute.
Abdoulaye Faye squandered two good chances when he was allowed space in the box from two corner kicks but his headers couldn’t find the target.
Aluko was next to feel the full force of a Barry challenge when the England midfielder caught the striker around the shin. Looking back at the replay Barry was very lucky not to have been shown a red card and escaped with only a yellow, much to the disgust of an irate Steve Bruce.
Aluko picked himself up and responded in the best possibly fashion by beating the England left-back Leighton Baines before hooking a low cross back to Sagbo who connected with a fierce left-footed sidefoot to score past Tim Howard.
The Everton midfield trio of Barry, Barkley and James McCarthy were causing Hull all kinds of problems around the midfield area. Barkley especially looked assured on the ball and wasn’t afraid to advance towards the City goal.
A speculative Baines cross from the left flank couldn’t find Lukaku who had evaded the offside trap but his lunge couldn’t connect with the ball.
Just before the half-time break Aluko had a shot deflected by Distin over the crossbar before Faye won yet another header from a corner. This time the veteran looked to head back across goal but Aluko couldn’t convert the chance seeing his header go just over from close range.
The introduction of Steven Pienaar in place of the tiring Osman in the 57th minute saw instant rewards. Howard launched a ball forward from a goal kick before Lukaku won the flick on towards Barkley, who played a ball out wide to Miralles where he swung a low cross in to find the South African who found the net with his first touch.
The half-time and subsequent deluge made for a slick playing surface after the interval with Jake Livermore seeing his fizzing shot deflect wide.
Lukaku departed on the 66th minute to be replaced by Arouna Kone, which shows you the strength in depth at Everton. The Ivorian then was guilty of missing a clear cut chance when he was played through on goal, after good link-up play between Coleman and Barkley, before cutting back inside of Faye on the left of the box and sticking the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
Kone again had another good chance to make sure of all three points but McGregor pulled off a fine save at his near post.
However, despite a blatant Baines dive late on to try win a penalty and Pienaar wasting another chance, Everton held on for the win.
The Egyptian Focus
Ahmed Elmohamady had an average game and struggled to have much impact on the game this was due to a combination of Everton having the lion share of position and the fact the Egyptian was coming up against Leighton Baines. He began the game at right midfield before reverting to right-back when George Boyd replaced Liam Rosenior in the 66th minute.
Published on October 20 2013 for KingFut.com