Hosts comfortable over disappointing Black Cats
Everton carried over their confidence from their FA Cup victory over Chelsea last weekend to comprehensively beat a poor Sunderland at Goodison Park, with Jermaine Beckford the star of the show.
The hosts were able to start with Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini after being doubts for the game while Jack Rodwell and Tim Cahill were both on the bench after being passed fit and Phil Jagielka made his first Premier League start of the year.
There was no Craig Gordon at Goodison Park after picking up a knee injury and he was an unwanted name to add to the growing list of players on the sidelines for Steve Bruce. Jack Colback made the bench after recovering from his muscle strain, but Frazier Campbell, Lee Cattermole, Michael Turner and David Meyler were all missing.
A tentative start from both sides led to the game’s early moments becoming a battle for the initial bits of possession to control the first minutes. Kieran Richardson was handed the first chance after a great ball from the middle found him in space on the left side, but the winger couldn’t target his shot properly and the ball skewered well wide of goal.
It took just eight minutes for the first goal to arrive. A poor clearance from Anton Ferdinand dropped to Leon Osman’s feet and the midfielder saw the space to channel the ball deep into the box from 20 yards out, which Jermaine Beckford picked up and his close range shot beat stand-in keeper Simon Mignolet and hit Titus Bramble on the shins, ending up in the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Yet the Black Cats did give themselves a chance to get back into the game. A lovely backheel from Asamoah Gyan found Ahmed Elmohamady who was able to move the ball onto Stephane Sessegnon and the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder fired a powerful effort that smashed off the underside of Tim Howard’s goal. Sunderland were still trailing, but they were finally showing some hope and spirit to get a much needed equaliser.
As half-time beckoned, Sunderland were definitely showing signs of life; the Wearside team had begun to attack more and more, but a resilient Everton were defending well.
At the double | Beckford proves the match-winner for the Toffees
However, all of the visitors' efforts were blown away after Everton doubled their lead, Beckford once again getting his name on the scoresheet. Mikel Arteta acted as the architect as the Spaniard used a combination of impressive skill and blistering pace to skin John Mensah, the midfielder racing into the area and reaching the byline, looked up to see the former Leeds man who managed to find the corner of the goal once more, despite a messy finish.
Everton began the second-half very brightly and were able to create a couple of chances within the first few minutes with Beckford and Osman both going close to testing Mignolet once again and Seamus Coleman doing his part with some good running on and off the ball.
Mignolet was called into action on the hour mark with a double save. Saha found himself with space on the edge of the visitors' area and drilled a low effort that the Belgian was able to push away, bu the ball then arrived at Coleman’s feet, whose following shot was saved well under pressure by the keeper once more.
Rodwell was next up to challenge the Sunderland defence after a burst of pace through space down the middle enabled him to reach his way deep into the visitors' half, before earning a corner which was saved by Mignolet.
Steve Bruce’s side were having a horrid time working their way back into the game as they continually failed to make anything of their time on the ball and looked to have a lost cause on their hands as they seemingly gave up the fight.
The final 10 minutes saw Everton bombard Sunderland with crosses and corners as the north east side desperately waited on the full-time whistle from the referee. Substitute Diniyar Bilyaletdinov went close on 86 minutes after attractive one touch football from Leighton Baines and Cahill set the Russian up for the shot, but his effort sailed over the bar.
Everton’s win sees them finally arrive in the top-10 and gives them some much needed confidence in the league after such a torrid time for most of this season. Sunderland’s loss brings them level on points with Bolton after their draw with other north east side, Newcastle United.
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