Fight, fight, fight with all our might for the boys in the royal blue jersey…
Everton 2 Dynamo Kiev 1: Rom Inspires as Blues fightback to defeat Kiev
What was this? Where did it come from? And why has it taken so long to see this fight? But wait. The inquests can begin in the summer, for now, let’s keep it exactly the way it is.
For thirty minutes it looked like every other game that had gone before, sluggish, painfully slow build up and, after a belly-full of this all season – while I don’t endorse it – it was entirely expected that the atmosphere turned as toxic as it did midway through the first half.
Thankfully the crowd, seemingly on the verge of frenzy, saw a rejuvenated Everton snap out of there Premier League malaise in a testing first thirty minutes as the blues took a stranglehold against a solid if unspectacular Dynamo Kiev at Goodison Park.
Let’s have it right, this is nowhere near the end of our problems but tonight showed the players have the stomach for the fight as our season draws to a nervy conclusion.
There were lots of positives here, and in a season of never-ending negativity it’s nice to reflect back on a performance in which a few players stood out for the man of the match award. None more so than Romelu Lukaku.
What a performance this was, yes there were moments of that bad first touch that seems to outweigh his goalscoring feats in some fans eyes, but Lukaku was in full in beast mode, showing great desire in his play, and tenacity and intent.
Lukaku throwing his weight around was a sight for sore eyes and the Kiev defence will be having nightmares about the big Belgian rocking up in Kiev next Thursday.
He was quite simply unplayable.
The blues started in sluggish fashion, the tolerance of the fans not lasting more than 2-3 sideways passes, given the mind numbing football at times this season I can understand the frustration, however, it is hardly conducive to inspiring the team who in all fairness were not inspiring the crowd either.
In any case, it was great to see a positive result and genuine optimism ahead of the must win game against Newcastle on Sunday.
Everton’s frustrating start was exasperated in the 14th minute when Oleg Gusev found space at the near post to sweep home impressively past Tim Howard – who was once again beaten at his near post – an identical strike to Giroud’s opener for Arsenal against the blues at the emirates. Like I said, not all our problems have been resolved with last night’s win.
Would it kill you Roberto to spend some time in training defending set pieces? I’m not sure leaving it to the defenders to sort out is quite working out for us.
It was a Gareth Barry pass that seemed to turn the tide – finding Lukaku down the left. The Belgian’s cross was easily cleared, and while it seemed insignificant, this is the moment the blues started showing belief. And Lukaku, who had barely touched the ball in that opening spell, began to grow into the game more.
Lukaku had an opportunity just after the half hour, with 40 year old Shovskovskiy – looking about 75 in truth – failing to deal with a long clearance. The Belgian then saw his looped effort go harmlessly wide. Lukaku also forced a corner from a 25 yard free kick tipped over by Shovskovskiy as Everton and Lukaku grew in prominence.
From the resulting corner Jagielka rose to head goal-wards only to see his effort headed off the line. Alcaraz followed up by seeing his shot deflected just over. Yes I have just described two near misses from an Everton set piece. Maybe we have turned a corner, if you pardon the pun.
The blues, now firmly with the bit between their ever sharpening teeth, deservedly drew level on 39 minutes through Steven Naismith. The Scot showing his predatory instincts with a precise low finish under the despairing Shovskovskiy, following some truly excellent centre forward play from Lukaku.
Big Rom was taking no prisoners with a run full of the kind of heart we are going to need in the Premier League. There was no shortage of skill either, as Lukaku, engulfed in Kiev defenders, slipped Naismith in who coolly drew the blues level.
Everton went in level at half time following more pressure. Mirallas rounded the keeper, only to see his intended cross for Lukaku intercepted and cleared. The whistle came as a relief for the put upon visitors as much as it would have annoyed Everton, who we’re building up a great head of steam. The second half and the Gwladys Street awaited….
The blues started the second half as they left the first, firmly in control. Demonstrated by Alcaraz fancying his chances with a 30 yard drive that was barely dealt with by Shovskovskiy who, to be honest, was looking his age.
Naismith also went close with a glancing header as the blues pressed for an advantage
Kiev barely threatened in the opening period of the second half, aside from an Mbokani header that cleared the bar, it was all Everton.
No crab like passing and uninspiring play, this was an Everton side full of vigour and intent. The tactic of feeding Lukaku in the channels enabling him to use his strength and turn defenders worked a treat, and the blues were looking dangerous with Lukaku imperious.
Everton’s reward for a much improved display, and the way we went about taking the fight to Kiev, arrived in contentious circumstances. Coleman getting to the by line only to see his cross strike Danilo Silvas arm. The ref pointed to the spot and Lukaku just about took advantage of the favorable decision by rolling the penalty home straight down the middle. And off the goalkeepers right foot to give the blues a crucial lead.
The blues we’re looking for that much desired two goal cushion and went close with Osman unable to guide Lukaku’s peach of a ball from the right on target after 87 minutes .
The final whistle soon came and the blues had secured victory and maybe for the first time this season, started to turn the corner in the fight to rediscover the utopia of last season.
Everton 2 Dynamo Kiev 1
Kiev away will be tough but as shown tonight we can get at them, and provided we repeat the last hour and not the first thirty minutes of this match, there’s every chance we can make it through to the next round.
For now our attention turns dramatically to Newcastle. The holy grail for our league campaign. We have to approach and play on Sunday with the same intensity we’ve shown here. We simply have to win. No time for hard luck stories, now’s the time to show our true class.
I don’t wish to once more be miserable or negative but I got the distinct feeling the players had an on field revolt against Roberto’s tactics last night.
I’m happy to be shot down over this but I got the clear impression the players took matters into there own hands.
We played with purpose and intensity after a disturbing first half hour. It’s almost like the team sought to put an end to the overwhelmingly toxic atmosphere. Our initial style of play was exasperating the situation, not making it better.
If they did then RM really is in trouble, and I’m happy to be ridiculed over this but, my gut feeling was that the players decided another way was better.
Honourable mentions for Luke Garbutt and James McCarthy who we’re outstanding. McCarthy in particular back to his very best and long may it continue. Well at least until Sunday please.
It was great to see the blues fight, play with intent and desire, and this is the way for us to go now. No more safety first and monotonous passing please Roberto. If you’re studying this game on the left hand LCD at home, just watch the last hour and copy that and we will be fine.
So come on Everton, the hope has killed us this season, follow this up on Sunday and give us all the rarest of things: An Everton related smile on Monday morning!
“On Sunday, we need that level of performance we saw in the second half tonight.” Roberto Martinez
We can’t afford any more hangovers Roberto. Newcastle have to be beaten. My receding hairline has to be stopped…. Oh, and the threat of relegation
COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!