Everton at Fulham: Match Report

Scott Heavey

Blues beat Fulham with three second half goals.

Everton were surprised in the first half by an energetic Fulham side that belied their bottom of the table position, but gathered their wits in the second to win the game 3-1. An own goal by the Cottagers goalie David Stockdale put Everton 1-0 up five minutes into the second period, before Ashkan Dejagah tied it up soon after. However the away side finished stronger and took home the three points on further goals from Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith.

Roberto Martinez had named an unchanged side from Tuesday, with the hopes that their rampaging form from the Newcastle game would carry over into today. That however was not the case as the home side started with the upper hand, attacking with intent and closing Everton down in the middle of the park. More often than not Sylvain Distin, John Stones and Gareth Barry had no one to play the ball to and had to hoof clear as the Cottagers generated plenty of pressure with 17-year old debutant Moussa Dembele and Lewis Holtby up front.

The home side will be left to rue poor finishing as they wasted chance upon chance in the first half especially. Tim Howard saved Everton's bacon on more than one occasion, keeping the Blues in the game. Everton hardly posed a threat with only Gerard Deulofeu's silken dribbling skills creating any sort of chances for the away side. Everton were so poor in the first half that it was hard to tell which side was pushing for European football and which side was propping up the League table.

However, Martinez's halftime team talk looked to do the trick, along with another inspired substitution. Ross Barkley had been largely anonymous and with felt his calf gingerly at about the half-hour mark. His replacement Steven Naismith though had Everton 1-0 up within five minutes of the resumption of play. His volley back into the crowd of players after Leighton Baines' corner was cleared bounced off Gareth Barry and William Kvist, and ricocheted in off the unfortunate Stockdale who had been otherwise excellent until that point.

As Fulham poured forward seeking the equalizer, gaps started to appear for Everton to exploit and Stockdale did well to kick away a shot from Romelu Lukaku after the Belgian had dipped and swerved past half the Cottagers' team. It took another substitution, this time Iranian midfielder Dejagah, who cut in past Seamus Coleman, left James McCarthy on the floor and hammered his shot past Howard at the near post. Just like that it was a well-deserved 1-1 for the home team and they pushed forward looking for more. Howard was forced to save smartly from ex-Blue John Heitinga and then Pajtim Kasami to keep the game tied.

Kevin Mirallas has not been in the best of nicks and fans have been hoping all he has needed is a rest. He showed no signs of the poor form when McGeady found him with a laser pass through the backline and he held off the defender to tuck the ball in past a despairing Stockdale to put Everton up with just over ten minutes to play.

The home side again charged forward with their Premier League survival at stake, but Everton turned it up a notch and looked more likely to score, with Naismith getting his well-deserved goal in the dying minutes, finishing off the Cottagers after a nifty passing sequence.

This was Everton's fifth straight win, a feat they hadn't accomplished in a dozen years, and it puts them just four points out of fourth placed Arsenal, with a game in hand. Arsenal already put Everton out of the FA Cup in what was the Blues biggest game of the season. Next Sunday when Everton host the Gunners again, it'll be another one of those biggest games of the season - will Everton show up though?

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