It has seemed that in many instances in our recent history, Everton have outplayed their opponents but have not come away with three points plainly due luck. That did not occur last Saturday.
Blackburn hosted Everton in what seemed to be an extremely important match for both sides. Blackburn came in having lost to Wolverhampton and Aston Villa. Everton fans were also nervous, having lost to a mediocre Queens Park Rangers side.
The match ended up being quite boring, but it had heartbreak written all over it for Everton fans. What happened near the end, ended up being a complete surprise.
Follow me after the jump for the full details
While Everton dominated possession early, Blackburn seemed like the side more likely to score. Halfway through the first half, David Dunn got through in the box clean, but hit the post after beating Howard.
A little while later, Everton missed a golden opportunity when Barkley spun in a glorious cross to an unmarked Osman, but he failed to put the header on target.
A little more than a minute into the second half, Blackburn won a penalty after Ross Barkley showed his inexperience by committing successive blunders. Barkley first lost the ball in his own half that left Mauro Formica with a ton of space. In order to make up for his mistake, he became a little aggressive in the box and left out his foot, where Formica "tripped" over. At first glance, it seemed like an automatic penalty (not a particularly strong one, but one that would be called nonetheless). After further inspection in slow motion replays, it was obvious that Formica had dove over Barkley's foot in order to be awarded the penalty. Regardless of the situation, it is something from which Barkley needs to learn from. These mistakes can not be made as he gets older.
Hoilett stepped into the box and took a rather soft penalty, but Howard made an impressive save to keep Everton in the mix.
In the 54th minute, Moyes took off Barkley and replaced him with his exact opposite, Tim Cahill. Cahill brought some much needed experience and energy and things started to look a little better for the club. Blackburn still looked like the better side, though.
Baines later made a cut into a box, following a Cachill pass, and took a solid shot, but it was saved by Paul Robinson.
After an awful performance by Victor Anichebe, he made up for it all with a perfect cross/pass to Fellaini. Fellaini, wide open in front of the goal, was then completely off target with his shot.
The second penalty came in the 83rd minute when Phil Jagielka made a hasty tackle on Formica (once again) after some woeful defending. This time Howard didn't have to make the save as Formica hit the right post and the Rovers couldn't capitalize on the rebound.
Finally, in extra time, Samba jumped over Fellaini in the box to head the ball to safety, but on his way down decided to pull down Fellaini with him. It wasn't necessarily a strong penalty, but Samba didn't do himself any favors by making the foul look like a rugby tackle. Arteta then coolly picked his spot in the lower right hand corner and Everton were off with their first three points of the season!
While the team's play itself was quite disappointing, it is hard to get angry after gaining three points. Moyes and the players definitely need to work harder, though, because the club will not luck out like this against better opponents. Something needs to be done quickly if we want to continue winning matches.
Howard definitely deserves praise in this match. He was absolutely phenomenal. If it weren't for him, we definitely wouldn't have come away with a victory. Definitely Man of the Match. Other than that, only Baines and maybe Cahill looked any good. Everyone else was extremely disappointing. Also, Anichebe needs to be indefinitely benched.
We next play Aston Villa on September 10th after having a week off due to International play.
If you would like to see highlights, click here (if it's still working).