Everton racked up a difficult win at Goodison Park against a resilient Stoke City side.
A disallowed goal from Tuncay Sanli was not rectified by Tony Pulis’s side as players such as Leighton Baines and Tim Cahill dominated the game.
The Blues got off to a good but slow start, keeping possession of the ball for the opening minutes of the game, spending most of the time in the Potters half.
After a fouls on striker Yakubu, and winger Steven Pienaar, midfielder Arteta and defender Baines stood up to take the first free kicks of the game all to no avail, giving Everton some confidence.
Stoke striker Kenwyne Jones was the orchestrator of his team’s first attempt at goal, but was just wide of an almost open goal despite being a doubt for the fixture after falling ill against West Ham in Wednesday’s 3-1 Carling Cup loss.
Shortly after, Yakubu paced down the wing unchallenged, but a weak finish led to another uninspired attempt to score the first goal of the match.
The Nigerian assisted most of the Toffees’ attempts at goal, but little use was made of their stalwart midfielder Baines, despite the amount of space Stoke were giving him.
Cahill’s header from a corner and a weak shot from Captain Philip Neville were the closest Everton came to scoring for the first half.
The ball finally found Baines out wide, who overshot inwards to a waiting Cahill, but ultimately, it was too high for the Australian who failed to make contact.
Looking for redemption after his blunder against Tottenham last weekend, Tim Howard impeded a long range free kick from midfielder Matthew Etherington to stop Stoke gaining the advantage.
The first corner for Tony Pulis’s team flew to the other side of the penalty box after Arteta missed a defensive header, which almost allowed midfielder Abdoulaye Faye to give Stoke the upper hand into the break, but the first half ended 0-0.
The second half of the game saw a more attacking Stoke team right from the whistle, but a defensive jump for the ball by Faye resulted in a painful collision of heads with Cahill, with the defender coming off to seek medical attention, interfering with Baines corner in the process.
Keeping up his team’s new approach to the game, Captain Ryan Shawcross booted on target but just missed out in the end. At the other end of the pitch, Arteta’s shot at goal mirrored those efforts but also failed to notch up a goal.
After two free kicks, a mistake from Leighton Baines almost let Tuncay Sanli get the ball into the back of the net, but referee had already blown the whistle.
Undeterred by Stoke’s second half turnaround Cahill and Yakubu set up for Heitinga to finally get a goal, but frustratingly the ball met the crossbar. Shortly after, Etherington’s free kick also clipped the goal.
Finally, a shot from Cahill in the 67th minute rebounded off of the post and was picked up by Yakubu who finally scored the first goal of the game, and his first goal of the season.
Star player Baines continued his top form, maintain his team’s possession in Stoke’s territory, standing his ground in defence and effortlessly preventing Stoke from equalizing.
Substitute Jermaine Pennant single-handedly surged his side forward in the face of booing from the crowd taking on several players at a time. Stoke continued in pursuit of that one point until the final whistle
Dean Whitehead’s free kick was the final lost opportunity for the away side and Everton spent the last couple of added minutes wasting time, until Diniyar Bilyaletdinov hit the outside of the net just before the final whistle, resulting in a 1-0 win for the Blues.