Everton 1-0 Chelsea: Beckford scores winner as Ancelotti’s side fail to break down 10-man Toffees
Seamus Coleman was dismissed in the 55th minute but the hosts were far superior to Carlo Ancelotti's side at Goodison Park in a typical end of season encounter
By Jonathan Birchall at Goodison Park
Everton ended their season in style with a 1-0 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park despite having gone down to ten men in the second half.
Seamus Coleman was dismissed for a forceful looking challenge on John Obi Mikel but the Toffees, who had been much the better side throughout, secured all three points through Jermaine Beckford’s solo effort with quarter of an hour remaining.
David Moyes’ side lined up without their captain Phil Neville, as Jack Rodwell replaced the Toffees’ skipper in midfield as they looked to bounce back from defeat to Roy Hodgson’s in-form West Brom last time out.
The visitors had some notable absentees from their ranks, with Yossi Benayoun, Ramires and Didier Drogba not even making the bench, adding fuel to the speculative fire regarding the Ivorian talisman’s future at Stamford Bridge.
Carlo Ancelotti may well be on his way out of Stamford Bridge but it was his players who started so sluggishly to suggest that it was they who would rather be anywhere else as Florent Malouda and Branislav Ivanovic misplaced early passes.
It was a contrast to the youthful exuberance brought to the Everton side by Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell, both of whom caused problems down the right hand side and it was a run from the latter that nearly led to an opener for the Toffees. Winning a corner having torn past Alex, Phil Jagielka met the cross wonderfully from the right-hand side to see it bounce off the bar and leave Ancelotti looking stony-faced in his technical area.
Everton's dominance was unrelenting and the hosts felt that they should have had a penalty after a quarter of an hour when Leon Osman was brought down in the box having been surrounded by Chelsea defenders. Peter Walton didn't agree and, in truth, it would have been a very harsh decision had it been given.
The early endeavour of the hosts was tempered a little as the half dragged on with both sides showing the effects of the 37 previous Premier League games. With possession swapping hands far too frequently, the promise of half time offered relief to not only the players, but the muted fans occasionally raising their voice to express their displeasure at a turgid showing.
Discontent rang out as Walton blew the half time whistle, with more than a sense that both sides had more to do if they were to finish off their season in style.
The lacklustre air of the first half appeared to have translated into the second as long ball followed long ball with both sides seemingly happy to let their counterparts take control of possession.
Everton were proving the stronger of the two sides as the hour mark approached but they were to be reduced to ten men following the sending off of Seamus Coleman, who had arguably been the finest player on the pitch for much of the game. His offence was a strong looking challenge on Mikel with his studs showing but you couldn't help but feel that it was the dramatics of the Nigerian, and the indignation of his teammates, that sealed the fate of the young Irishman.
The Toffees' rhythm barely looked to be affected as Beckford, who has yet to prove that he can be clinical at the highest level, failed to slide an effort past Petr Cech to give his side the breakthrough, meekly knocking a limp effort into the Chelsea club's arms.
The visitors were struggling to contain the Toffees' pace on the break but were able to take control of the ball with a more authoritative demeanour against their opponents following the sending off and Ivanovic thought he had given his side the lead only to have his strike ruled out for offside.
The hosts took advantage and it was Beckford, clearly not deterred by his earlier wastefulness, who gave his side the lead. Picking up the ball in his own half, the former Leeds man broke at lightning pace through the centre of the pitch past a weary Chelsea defence and opened his body to slide an effort against Cech and inside the far post. It was a goal hardly befitting the pace of the game, taking the Toffees striker into double figures for the season.
Chelsea offered something of a fightback but their efforts never looked to be anything other than in vain as Ancelotti, who may have taken charge of his final game for the Stamford Bridge outfit, watched on helplessly. His side, in truth, had done little to give him a farewell worthy of his tenure.
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