It wasn't always an exciting 90 minutes, but Everton managed to use a cobbled together team to beat Bournemouth 2-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday with goals from Tom Cleverley and Leighton Baines.
Cleverley's finish came just seven minutes into the match, and it was a pretty one. Ross Barkley worked the ball into the winger at the top of the box. From there, it was all Cleverley; he deked his defender by switching the ball from his right foot to his left. And then he hit a laser past Artur Boruc in goal for an early 1-0 Everton advantage.
VIDEO: Cleverley's goal pic.twitter.com/3XGMtRqyep— Daily Premier League (@TheDailyPL) April 30, 2016
However, it lasted for only moments as the Cherries struck right back. In the ninth minute, they worked the ball down the right wing. Callum Wilson broke it open with a slight shove on Matthew Pennington to create space. It could have been a foul but nothing was given. Instead, Wilson had the space to cross the ball into Marc Pugh, who put the ball on goal. Tim Howard got a hand to it, but it wasn't enough. Bournemouth had their equalizer.
Everton has the questions, Marc Pugh has the answers for Bournemouth https://t.co/O0TUhKId2u— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) April 30, 2016
The final goal of the afternoon came just past the hour mark as Baines earned three points for the Toffees in the 64th minute. It was a great bit of football. Barkley worked the ball out to Aaron Lennon on the right wing. Lennon crossed it into Cleverley in the box, who whiffed on it, but the ball fell to Baines who banged it into the back of the net.
The good stuff
-Tony Hibbert made his return to the pitch after 16 months away with injuries, and it was fantastic! Every time he touched the ball, the Goodison faithful were yelling "SHOOT!" and he did just that with a shot on goal in the 66th minute. On defense, he was actually pretty great, making several nice blocks and sliding tackles.
-Two Everton academy products made their Premier League debuts today. Pennington started at centerback and was serviceable. And 18-year-old Kieran Dowell came on and played a couple of minutes. Well deserved for the young lads.
-Barkley had a "good Ross" type of game and served as the real catalyst for the attack. If he could do that game-in and game-out he could be world class.
-There was a lovely, heart-warming tribute to the Hillsborough 96 prior to the match. They received a nice applause. Good on ya, Toffees.
The bad stuff
-Oumar Niasse got the start that supporters, myself included, have been clamoring for and he underwhelmed. It's not that he was awful but he doesn't seem comfortable as a long striker. The hold-up play is nowhere near as good as Romelu Lukaku's and he doesn't look crisp. That said, he has not played much since January and is likely still adjusting to England.
-There was a noticeably loud buzzing over Goodison near the end of the first half. Turns out it was a little plane toting a sign that read "TIME TO GO ROBERTO NSNO". This is the second plane to fly over the park this season.
-Some fans even stuck around after the match to protest the club's manager further.
Post match protests pic.twitter.com/rwH1C6Ea3x— UpperGwladysBlue (@UpperGwladysBlu) April 30, 2016
There are three matches remaining in the 2015-16 campaign. It's a big one next Saturday as they travel to league-leading Leicester City. Then it will be a road game against Sunderland next Wednesday before closing the season by hosting Norwich City two weeks from now.