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Everton 2 Norwich 0 - Blues see off Norwich to move back into the Champions League places

Everton's high pressing game and wonder goals from Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas saw them overcome Norwich at Goodison Park.

Gareth Barry celebrates his wonder goal, and his 50th in the Premier League, with his Everton team-mates.
Gareth Barry celebrates his wonder goal, and his 50th in the Premier League, with his Everton team-mates.
Jan Kruger

The first notable change for the home side would be the absence of Ross Barkley with a toe injury that his manger says will leave him out for ‘a while', although they were boosted by the return of captain Phil Jagielka alongside John Stones.

The good news outweighed the bad though as the home crowd were given a glimpse of Aiden McGeady, after his move from Spartak Moscow was confirmed before the game. It is certain the winger will have liked what he saw from his new team.

However Norwich started the brighter as confusion in Everton's defence led to Bradley Johnson being given the opportunity to shoot, but the midfielder scuffed his effort and Everton were safe.

The home side soon picked up their rhythm from the QPR game and found themselves in the ascendency as their quick passing and high pressing game forced Norwich into mistake after mistake. The best chance to open the scoring would again fall to Norwich though as Gary Hooper was found with a glorious long ball from Steven Whittaker, but the strikers poor first touch allowed Tim Howard to smother.

Everton responded and Romelu Lukaku should have scored with a header from two yards out, but somehow managed to head wide with the oncoming post and goalkeeper seemingly distracting the Belgian. The opening goal soon followed though, and came from an unlikely source in the shape of Gareth Barry. Picking up a pass from Lukaku, the Englishman strode forward confidently to smash past John Ruddy from twenty yards to score his 50th Premier League goal and his third for Everton.

Further chances quickly followed as Seamus Coleman and Leon Osman fired over and last ditch defending denied Everton their second. The last chance of the half fell to Norwich however as a free kick ricocheted in the box and Howard was drawn far from his goal, but the defence held out and Everton headed into the break ahead, though disappointed to not to be leading by more.

The home side continued the second half as they had ended the first, with Steven Pienaar at his twisting, turning and flicking best. Despite the intricate passing football though, there was a surprising lack of end product. It was with an air of irony then, that their second came from a set piece. Following a typical surging run, Leigton Baines was fouled and from the resulting free kick Kevin Mirallas, undeterred from hitting the post against Stoke, curled wonderfully past a despairing Ruddy to give Goodison Park its second brilliant goal of the afternoon.

Norwich were now clinging on for dear life as wave after wave of Everton attack came at them, with one particular move resulting in Lukaku finishing neatly only to be flagged marginally offside. Chris Hughton sensed a change was needed and introduced winger Nathan Redmond for Javier Garrido, who had struggled to contain Coleman's surging runs.  Everton's lack of depth came to the forefront soon after as Johnny Heitinga was introduced to replace an injured Osman, with Everton moving to three at the back and Pieenar also leaving inured to be replaced Steven Naismith minutes later.

The earlier introduction of Redmond would prove a game changer for the away side as the young winger attacked at the Everton defence, one particular tricky run resulting in a good save low down from Howard after he had worked his way past Coleman and Stones. The wingers attacking intent spurred on his team-mates though as Norwich started to show more attacking intent with Johnson firing wide from a surging run and then again with an effort minutes later.

The visitors had seemingly stemmed the Everton tide, and were keen to take advantage following Everton's enforced changes with Robert Snodgrass then hitting the post with a header from a Redmond cross. Arguably their play across the day had deserved a goal, but it was looking increasingly unlikely to arrive as the game entered its final ten minutes and the home side resisted. There would be no further chances for either team as Everton maintained possession and killed off the game to give their Champions League hopes a further boost before three away games, starting at West Brom next.

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