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Everton vs Swansea City: Match Report

Blues survive home scare against the Swans.

Everton had not lost to Swansea City the last nineteen times the two sides met. Saturday should have been a romp in the (Goodison) Park with the Welsh side struggling and the home team aiming for Europe. However, as has been their wont in recent times, Roberto Martinez's side made a meal of this fixture in a game that swung side-to-side before finally resulting in another home win for Everton, maintaining their 100% record at Goodison in 2014.

While the Toffees have been simply awful on the road in recent times, they have scraped wins at Goodison a few times with the home crowd willing them on to victory. It has taken late heroics to seal the points in the last few weeks, so when the Blue scored twice in five minutes early in the second half to go up 3-1 the fans could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief, for once the points could be banked without another heart attack inducing finale. However, it was never going to be that easy and Swansea threw everything they had to claw back into the game but it was too little too late. Had they scored their second even ten minutes earlier than than they did, Everton's shaky backline would have had a more torrid close to the match.

Garry Monk had his side ready to play on Saturday, and they dominated proceedings early on. They passed the ball around fluently and used the wings intelligently as they had the home side chasing their tails all over the park. Everton's goal in the twentieth minute came against the run of play with the Welsh side pressing the Blues high. John Stones, still standing in for injured club captain Phil Jagielka, hoofed a clearance down the left channel to find Ross Barkley who controlled well but was hacked down right at the line of the penalty box by Chico Flores. Referee Michael Oliver did not hesitate in pointing to the spot, Everton's first Goodison penalty since January 2013. Mr. Automatic Leighton Baines might have had a haircut to manage his unruly mop, but still dispatched the shot above Michel Vorm's despairing dive.

Swansea had been playing the better football so it was no surprise when soon after the half-hour mark Wayne Routledge ran free down the left, spotted right back Angel Rangel charging forward unmarked and sent over a precise cross that the Spaniard laid back across the face of the goal for Wilfried Bony to tap in. The Swans finished the half in the ascendancy as the home side looked strangely lacklustre and tired, and were very lucky to go into the break not a goal or more down. Jagielka's calm captaincy has been sorely missed at the back - while youngster Stones has been an able deputy, he still has a lot to learn.

Soon after the half, Everton finally showed how dangerous they can be with first a neat combination between Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas resulting in a fine finish through Vorm's legs by Lukaku, and then Swansea got into a complete bind from a Mirallas corner allowing Barkley to place a stooping header into the back of the net.

This was not going to be over that easily though, and Swansea continued to have the lion's share of the possession but were able to create little. Mirallas had not had a good first half, but could have put the fixture out of sight when he raced through clear on goal but could only shoot weakly at Vorm. The two goal lead was preserved right until time added on thanks to a couple of Tim Howard saves, but there was little the American goalie could do when Ashley Williams rose unmarked to head in with just over a minute to go. The Blues hung on to play out the clock and seal the three points.

The fans went home celebrating an eighth successive home win, a first since 1986. This also marked the second three-game winning streak in the Premier League of Martinez's tenure, a feat David Moyes achieved only once in his last three seasons. An improvement in away form will be needed to sustain Everton's European challenge now, with games at Newcastle on Tuesday and Fulham on Sunday coming up.