LIVERPOOL – Everton and Norwich played out an entertaining draw at Goodison Park that saw the hosts remain three points behind their visitors in the Premier League.
A clever Grant Holt turn and finish put the visitors ahead in the first half before substitute Royston Drenthe’s shot, after a brilliant run, was diverted in by Leon Osman.
David Moyes made two changes to the side which suffered defeat at Arsenal, bringing in Leon Osman for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and handing Magaye Gueye a first league start as Seamus Coleman dropped out.
Paul Lambert chose to show faith in the Norwich side which so comfortably beat Newcastle United at Carrow Road. That meant that strike partners Morison and Holt continued together after both getting on the scoresheet in that victory.
A cagey start from both sides saw few chances created with defenses firmly on top. However, both sides had decent looks as Steve Morison drilled over from range for Norwich, while Marouane Fellaini was unable to poke home after receiving a pass from Tim Cahill.
The Blues went on to dominate the opening exchanges with Cahill again unfortunate not to end his scoring drought after toeing beyond the post after sumptuous football from the hosts.
Meanwhile, Norwich struggled to put their stamp on the game throughout the first half with long balls to Grant Holt and Steve Morison seemingly their only outlet against Everton pressure.
Therefore it was something of a surprise when the visitors took the lead entirely against the run of play. A ball into the box was held up by Grant Holt and the forward managed to fight off Johnny Heitinga sufficiently to turn and slide the ball beyond Howard.
That goal had been Norwich’s first shot on target of the afternoon and gave them the opportunity to slow the play down to prevent an Everton backlash.
A scrap between goalscorer Holt and Everton’s Fellaini almost threatened to see the teams end the half with ten men but referee Lee Probert sensibly kept his cards in his pocket to see the sides in even in numbers if not goals at half time.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, as Everton dominated possession but failed to find the final ball.
Cahill had his best chance of the game after Baines’ powerful cross, but could not direct his header goalward.
Norwich then served to remind the hosts of their threat on the break after Naughton’s cross-field pass allowed Holt to nod at goal only to see it loop over the crossbar and bring a gasp of exasperation from the travelling support.
The lack of bodies in the box clearly troubled Toffees manager Moyes and led to the Scot introducing Denis Stracqualursi in place of the ineffective Cahill.
Though the forward did little to bring the Blues’ attack to life, it was the addition of fellow substitute Drenthe which eventually reinvigorated the hosts. The Dutchman’s direct running presented an opportunity for Saha to shoot but the Frenchman’s shot was brilliantly blocked by the impressive John Ruddy.
The match continued similarly as Drenthe looked to present the biggest chance of the hosts getting back into the game, and it was his run that created the goal to get them back in it.
Cutting in brilliantly from the right, the forward let fly before seeing Leon Osman get a clever touch on the ball to see it beyond a despairing Ruddy.
Everton subsequently pushed hard for a winner and it was Drenthe again whose shot from distant brought a fantastic reflex save from Ruddy which deserved a share of the points, and so it was to prove as the Canaries held out for a hard-fought share of the spoils.