sábado, 17 de diciembre de 2011

Everton 1 - 1 Norwich City

Skipper Grant Holt’s seventh goal of the season gave the Canaries an interval lead and looked set to be enough for three points until Osman struck.

Holt put the Canaries ahead in the 28th minute with his 60th goal for the club, a splendid close-range finish after Steve Morison helped on a free-kick by David Fox.

It took Everton until nine minutes from time to level the scores as Osman diverted a shot by substitute Royston Drenthe past goalkeeper John Ruddy.

Ruddy, returning to his former club, distinguished himself with important saves from Marouane Fellaini, Osman, Louis Saha and Drenthe but hopes of a first clean sheet of the season were ended by Osman’s deflection.

Nevertheless, it was another valuable result, taking City to the 20-point mark, still three matches short of the halfway stage of the season.

City boss Paul Lambert named the same starting eleven and seven substitutes from the 4-2 home win over Newcastle, again pairing Morison and Holt, each with six goals this season, in attack.

Everton manager David Moyes made two changes to his side, with Magaye Gueye and Osman returning in place of Seamus Coleman and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov.

There was almost a scare for Howard in the Everton goal in the second minute when Fellaini’s backpass left him in a hurry to clear upfield as Morison closed in.

A foul by Naughton on Baines on the halfway line earned the first yellow card after just four minutes.

City’s first shot on goal came moments later when Hoolahan teed up Morison but he fired high and wide.

Ruddy was called into action against his former club in the seventh minute when he smothered a shot from Fellaini at close range after a flick from Cahill.

Everton forded the first corner in ther ninth minute when Russell Martin cut out Baines cross after good work by Gueye, but Whitbread headed clear from the flag-kick.

The hosts almost broke the deadlock in the 12th minute when Saha set up Osman and his shot, deflected off Tierrney, was goalbound before Russell Martin got his head in the way at the expense of a corner.

Everton had a succession of corners that left City a bit stretched, with the pressure only relieved when Gueye volleyed wide.

Little was seen of City as an attacking force and they had a narrow escape after 19 minutes when Saha crossed from the right and Cahill almost supplied the finishing touch.

Out of the blue, the Canaries took the lead in the 28th minute when Holt scored his seventh goal of the season. From a free-kick on the right given for a foul on Hoolahan, Fox crossed towards the far post where Morison knocked the ball on to Holt, who, with his back to goal, turned Heitinga splendidly and rolled his shot left-footed just inside the post.

A shot by Saha that looped goalwards off Tierney had Ruddy scrambling back to beat Hibbert to the dropping ball, then Saha fired just past the post as he threatened again.

Another great chance presented itself seven minutes before the break when Neville slipped to let in Hoolahan on the right side of the penalty area but he went for the cross rather than the shot, and it was too high for Surman to get any power into his header as Everton breathed a sigh of relief.

Fellaini was in trouble with the referee three minutes before the break for protesting about the lack of a free-kick for what he felt was a raised arm from Holt, and in the end both players were lectured but neither booked.

When play resumed, Morison glanced a header wide from a Surman free-kick after Tierney had been fouled.

In first-half stoppage time, Holt was caught by a challenge from Neville and he was still hobbling when the teams left the field.

Half-time – Everton 0, Norwich City 1.

There was a subdued start to the second period, but Howard was almost put into trouble by Heitinga’s backpass in the 52nd minute as Morison closed in, but the keeper managed to juggle the ball away.

Ruddy dived to his right to save from Osman in one of Everton’s better moves, Cahill heading wide from the resulting corner.

Russell Martin took a blow in an uncomfortable place when he blocked a powerful effort from Saha, but managed to play on, then Cahill headed wide from a Baines cross as Whitbread did just enough to put him off.

Holt might have had a second after 58 minutes when he headed inches wide from Naughton’s cross with Howard beaten and, at the other end, Osman weaved his way into a good position but shot wide with a poor effort.

A foul by Crofts on Saha on the hour gave Everton a free-kick just outside the Norwich area but Gueye blasted it aimlessly into the wall.

Everton replaced Cahill with Stracqualarsi in a bid to liven things up and they were almost level within seconds as Ruddy came out bravely to block Saha’s shot.

Russell Martin blocked another Saha piledriver as the hosts began to press, after Ruddy failed to make a clean punch.

With 20 minutes to go, Saha missed another good opportunity when he headed over at the near post from Baines’ cross.

Everton made another change when Drenthe replaced Gueye, and with 16 minutes to go, Lambert introduced Bradley Johnson for Hoolahan.

Neville was booked for a foul on Johnson and when the resulting free-kick from Fox was cleared, Naughton sliced a long-range effort wide.

With 10 minutes to go, Wilbraham was sent on for his first taste of Premier League action, in place of Morison.

Within seconds, Everton were level. Substitute Drenthe went past Bradley Johnson and his low left-foot shot was deflected past Ruddy by Osman.

Drenthe was full of energy and tested Ruddy with a powerful left-footer as the hosts went in search of a winner.

With just four minutes left, Ruddy made another important save but didn’t know too much about it as he diverted Drenthe’s shot over the bar, then moments later he was diving to his left to stop Hibbert’s drive.

With just over a minute left, Saha was withdrawn and McAleny replaced him.

A timely challenge by Tierney denied Stracqualarsi a clear shot and McAleny, following up, hooked the loose ball wide.

Everton – Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines; Osman, Neville, Fellaini, Gueye (Drenthe, 72 min); Saha (McAleny, 89 min), Cahill (Stracqualarsi, 61 min). Subs: Mucha, Distin, Bilyaletdinov, Rodwell.

Norwich City – Ruddy; Naughton, Russell Martin, Whitbread, Tierney; Fox; Crofts, Surman; Hoolahan (Bradley, Johnson, 74 min); Morison (Wilbraham, 80 min), Holt. Subs (not used): Rudd, Barnett, Bennett, Pilkington, Jackson.

Referee – Lee Probert

Attendance – 31,004.

Goals – Everton: Osman (81 min). City: Holt (28 min).

Bookings – Everton: Neville (78 min). City: Naughton (4 min).

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