My gut feeling is that this is a huge result for us, a result that will give us massive belief to go on and achieve great things this season. A result we will look back on with importance.
Everton 4 Wolfsburg 1: Germans put to the sword with Blues best yet to come
Writing this shortly after the full-time whistle I have to admit my feelings are a mixture of euphoria and confusion. Did we have more gears to go through or did we switch off completely after the third goal went in. We looked breathtaking and lackluster in equal measure tonight.
A 4-1 result against a German side who narrowly missed out on Champions League football last season is an excellent performance, there can however be no doubt there was a 30 minute second half spell that put Evertonians in a mood not befitting of a 3-0 lead.
Maybe this is what European football is all about but no question, we would have seen a better second half performance from Everton had we not made it 3-0 two minutes after Half time.
To start with, Everton were respectful of their German opponents almost to the point of irritation as we seemed incapable of putting an attack together, but gradually we grew into the game and that fast paced attacking play synonymous with Everton under Roberto was in evidence again as we took the lead through a lovely goal.
Some slick interchanging from Naismith and Baines saw the blues advance into the box, leading to the Scot latching onto a Baines cut back and seeing his shot take a double deflection before finally going in off Rodriquez to make it 1-0.
The goal looked scrappy but the move was incisive and at a pace Wolfsburg simply couldn’t live with.
When we play like this there are few teams better. We look like a side who will have no problem scoring goals this season and Naismith deserved to claim his 4th of the season but the effort will surely go down as an own goal.
Everton, ever weary of Wolfsburg’s threat led by the impressive De Bruyne, were grateful to Tim Howard getting down low to block the Belgian’s goal bound effort. Howard was on top form tonight, building on his confidence from the blues first clean sheet of the season at the Hawthorne’s.
The American ended up almost equaling his USA record for a number of saves in a match such was our doziness in the second half. Everton made it 2-0 on the stroke of half time, always a great time to score if there is such a thing, with a goal born out of Roberto’s philosophy.
Kevin Mirallas, who is fast becoming my favorite player, cut in from the right to unleash a near post thunderbolt. The keeper, unable to deal with the shot effectively saw Baines latch onto his parry before forcing the ball across goal for Seamus Coleman to head home from inside the six yard box and send Goodison into elation.
Two fullback’s inside the six yard box as we attacked the Germans with pace and quality. These are great days blues.
My only wish is that our performances over the full 90 minutes can improve.
We could have had a third in first half added time with Lukaku seeing his 25 yard free kick well saved by Benaglio. With incisive attacking play luring lunging challenges from opposition defenders sure to be a feature this season, it was good to know we have another weapon in our dead ball situations. I fancy Big Rom to bag a few from these situations this season.
For me Everton played the first half just about perfectly. Maybe the first ten minutes were too cautious but it’s difficult to be too critical in our first European tie after a four-year absence. And Wolfsburg were more than decent opposition.
The second half started much the same as the first half ended. Everton’s tempo was up and the Wolfsburg defence was being put under constant pressure.
Everton forced a mistake with a stray pass across the 18 yard box which McGeady seized upon before drawing a foul from Robin Koche that looked outside the box. Incredibly, in an occurrence rarer than a Kevin Ratcliffe goal, the referee pointed to the spot!
We don’t get many and Baines showed his confidence by giving Benaglio the eyes before putting the ball in the opposite corner, to effectively end the game as a contest.
As great as this was, it led to a deeply uncomfortable and frankly irritating 30 minutes in which we seemed unable to lay a glove on a fearless Wolfsburg who were creating chances at will.
Howard with his mojo well and truly back reacted sharply to deny Gustavo with a stabbed shot before showing brilliant reflexes to spectacularly beat away the impressive Rodriguez’s vicious free kick.
With the crowd getting restless, yes it is classic Everton for us to be 3-0 up and still irritating our own support, our play in the second half looked really poor at times.
It’s hard not to be irrational and frankly, levelling any kind of criticism after a win sounds ridiculous, but that is how it was for large periods of the second half. We looked a team 3 nil down not 3 nil up.
Had Robles been in-goal for this match I’m not sure my heart would have survived that second half. Wolfsburg were schooling us at times but thankfully, with Howard inspired, any anxiety was not allowed to build into blind panic.
Everton improved as the game entered the last 15 minutes, in no small part thanks to Samuel Eto’o who provided another mouth-watering cameo. One move in which he controlled the ball with a touch straight out of heaven before playing in Naismith was worth the much criticised £33.00 admission fee alone. The thrill of seeing this guy play for us will never get tired.
Eto’o showed his class once more to have a hand in the 4th Goodison goal. A moment to reinforce the smile on Blue faces after a testing second half. Kevin Mirallas running onto an Eto’o through ball to clinically finish past Benaglio and make it 3 in 3 for our fast becoming talismanic Belgian.
Mirallas is now looking a real player for us. Keenly aware of his responsibilities on the pitch but with the talent to deliver it, he is a mouth-watering prospect for the season that lieshas such an influence on our side and I can only see it growing as the season progresses.
His ability to demand the ball and find space in dangerous areas compliments our forward play beautifully. The interchanging at times is School of Science stuff and if we can get the balance right between attack and defence, and that much craved consistent level of performance, a player like Mirallas should be looking at 15+ goals this season. A wonderful player.
Another real positive to come out to tonight, aside from the goals and points the win gave us, was the sight of Darron Gibson returning to action for the last 8 minutes. His first taste of action in over a year.
Gibson almost put the gloss on his own personal victory against a cruciate ligament injury with a goal. Only to see his low drive well saved by Benaglio.
Wolfsburg claimed the consolation their ridiculous second half superiority deserved with Rodriquez finding the net with a bending free kick. Howard, for once, standing on ceremony to see his clean sheet hopes vanish with the last kick of the game.
FT: Everton 4 Wolfsburg 1
This was a great win for us but we must not get carried away with the score-line. Wolfsburg had 27 shots on goal with 13 on target and we can’t allow teams this many chances Maybe we sat back with the 3-0 lead, understandable but it demonstrated to me that as a team we need to be right at it for 90 minutes. We are not good enough to drop off and sit back.
I get that this sounds like I’m moaning but truly I’m delighted with the win. However, there is no question we have lots to improve on if we are to be successful thiso win 4-1 with a performance as Jekyll and Hyde as this tells its own story.
Defensively I thought Stones was excellent. The lads a class act and it’s beginning to shine through week in week out as we look to rebuild our defensive confidence. Jagielka is desperately trying to play with confidence and full credit to him. With his form shot to pieces following the world cup, there were moments of similar vulnerability for the captain, particularly in the second half.
Jag’s general unease on the ball was hand over face stuff at times but he looks determined to reach his previous high levels and no question for me he will get back there.
So before my article looks like I’m never happy, I look at our forwards, Mirallas, Naismith, Lukaku and Eto’o and I remember with therapy clearly failing, that Straq, Vellios and Gueye would have been our striking options not so long ago and I say: Thank you Roberto.
Our club is changing and evolving. This was a small step forward tonight. We all want consistency in our play and when the school of science finally learns its lesson on this, the rest will be history.
Up next is Krasnodor who will be buoyed by a good result at French league leaders Lille. A result that gives us a truly great start in the group. Stating the obvious I know but its important we get a result in Russia. And Wolfsburg will provide a real challenge in Germany.
We certainly have the attacking players to worry the Russians as demonstrated here by us keeping up our impressive record of scoring at least 2 goals a game since the start of the season.
“I was so impressed with how we managed to get through that and put the Wolfsburg back-four under massive pressure. Today’s performance showed real maturity.” Roberto Martinez
Now let’s be all grown up blues and perform for 90 minutes. Starting with a welcome chance of revenge this Sunday against Palace.