Goodison Review: Everton left deflated as Kalou forces replay
Our Everton correspondent reviews today’s game with FA Cup holders Chelsea…
Solomon Kalou came off the bench to rescue Chelsea from the jaws of defeat this afternoon at Goodison Park as a much improved second-half saw Everton come close to victory.
It was a second half which Everton thoroughly dominated and should have seen them book their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup at the hands of the holders.
The first half, however, was somewhat forgettable and many viewers would have been excused for taking an afternoon nap.
Both teams cancelled each other out with the tempo too slow to spark a reserved Everton crowd into life with the Chelsea fans joking: “You’re supposed to be at home!”
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov had a chance to remedy this in the 14th minute but he failed to properly connect with the ball after Jack Rodwell’s flick on from Phil Neville’s throw into the box. Nipping in ahead of Jose Bosingwa, the Russian international could only tamely divert the ball straight to Petr Cech when on the stretch in the six yard box.
The first real chance of the half fell to Jack Rodwell after being played in on goal by Louis Saha following superb harrying by Marouane Fellaini to win the ball in a dangerous area.
Fellaini’s pressure and eventual tackle on Michael Essien saw the ball end up at Saha’s feet and the Frenchman slid the ball to Rodwell who, running slightly away from goal and under pressure from a Chelsea defender, could only direct his low shot straight at Cech.
At this point, Phil Neville had already been warned by a lenient Howard Webb – who distributed no cards in the game – about two previous tackles on Florent Malouda and the Everton captain was relatively fortuitous not to be cautioned when in the 29th minute he showed Malouda that he was in for a tough afternoon.
This was to the evident amusement of Gary Neville as the cameras showed him produce a broad smile at his brother’s antics.
Shortly after came Chelsea’s best moment of the half as Nicolas Anelka surged towards goal following a Ramires pass. Anelka advanced with the ball into the box and unleased a low drive which, fortunately for Everton, was straight at a grateful Tim Howard who diverted the ball behind with his legs.
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