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Everton vs. Swansea City: Match Report

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Blues overcome nerves to go through to FA Cup quarters.

Stu Forster

Five minutes into the tie and Everton were ahead with a goal from new striker Lacina Traore. Stage set for a romp by the home side (and a mouthwatering FA Cup quarter final tie possibly against Liverpool already in the books), right?

As we've seen more and more often these last few weeks, this is not the same team from earlier in the year. The derby debacle looks to have affected this team very deeply, with confidence low after the subsequent defeat at Tottenham. Players getting caught out of position, easily misplaced passes, communication gaps and a general sense of lethargy have plagued the team for long periods.

Sunday was no less, and once Swansea City equalized they looked the hungrier side and more likely to score the next goal in the game. Traore had given Everton the lead from a melee from a corner, but despite that early lift, the home side looked especially brittle defensively. It would be easy to say that Tim Howard's stabilizing presence in the back was missed, but the Blues have looked equally shaky when Joel Robles wasn't in goal.

It was no surprise when Jonathan De Guzman ghosted between the twin pillars of central defence Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin to place a deft header past Robles, even before the quarter hour mark. Swansea manager Garry Monk had made eight changes to his squad after stating that the Cup was a clear third on his list of priorities after the Europa League and the Premier League, and would at that point have been reasonably pleased by his side's plucky performance. They hung in there for the rest of the half, and into the next too.

Martinez looked tense as the clock ticked on past the hour. The crowd was tense and nervous too, this looked a lot like the home games against Sunderland and Aston Villa. The difference between this tie going the way of the Villa win against the Sunderland loss was another Roberto Martinez substitution. The out-of-sorts Ross Barkley and the not-yet match fit Traore went off, and Leon Osman and Steven Naismith came on to great effect.

Within minutes Naismith pounced on a poor back pass to neatly place the ball past the Swans goalie - Nikica Jelavic would have done well to learn some finishing from the Scot. A few minutes later Naismith was tripped down the inside left channel and Leighton Baines calmly dispatched the penalty for the two-goal lead and the subsequent win.

This marked yet another quiet game from Seamus Coleman, who was in the form of his life at the beginning of this season. Gerard Deulofeu was also unnoticeable in his brief appearance and one hopes that the two youngsters will bounce back. With Liverpool and Spurs both in prime form, Everton will need to show more in the closing stretches if they are to be considered for a European spot.