Wow. What an FA Cup tie.
After 210 minutes of football and a penalty shootout that climaxed with West Ham goalkeeper Adrian stroking home the winning spot kick, the Hammers overcame our brave Blues to advance to the next round where they will face Bristol City
FA Cup Heartbreak Can Galvanise Blues
A goalless first half was followed by a dramatic second that saw Enner Valencia score to give the home side the lead while Aiden McGeady was sent off after picking up two yellow cards.
This put the Toffees further on the back foot but in true Everton spirit, we fought back with our Belgian star Kevin Mirallas notching an immaculate free kick to send the game to extra time. More Mirallas magic in the additional period saw him set up his Belgian compatriot Romelu Lukaku for an easy finish.
The 3,000 strong away fans erupted and it looked like we had completed a miraculous comeback until Carlton Cole popped up to bring West Ham level once more.
And so it went to penalties. Steven Naismith missed and Stewart Downing had the chance to end things but the fantastic Joel Robles denied him.
Unfortunately, karma came back for Joel and our Spanish keeper stepped up for his own penalty but crashed it against the crossbar.
His goalkeeping colleague Adrian then sent him the wrong way to book West Ham’s place in the fourth round.
As heart breaking a way as it was to lose, the quality of the game and of our team and individual performances left with me with an odd positive feeling I haven’t experienced after an Everton game for a while.
We were very impressive in defence. Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines showed their top defensive attributes while the partnership of John Stones and Phil Jagielka was excellent and it’s important that duo become our staple centre backs if we are to continue our improvement for the rest of the season.
Anything that managed to get through though those four was stopped almost every time by Robles who had his best game in an Everton shirt to date. I’m so pleased for big Joel that he’s finally hitting a bit of form.
Midfielders Ross Barkley and Gareth Barry were poor again and I believe both need a period out of the team. Muhamed Besic and McGeady weren’t great but Naismith, Lukaku and substitutes Mirallas and Bryan Oviedo were very good.
Mirallas has had a superb season and whenever he gets the ball you feel something is going to happen. He is so key in a creative sense and in everything we do going forward.
We could have won it too. Mirallas and Lukaku both missed sitters.
It was good to see Roberto let us play a more direct style in this match. We can be an unstoppable team when we move the ball quickly and pass a lot but a balance of the two styles would suit us down to the ground.
We’re out of both domestic cups now and as disappointing as it is knowing that we won’t be playing at Wembley this year, we can use it to our advantage by making a push for the top half of the league and by going on a Europa League run.
It’s imperative that we continue producing good performances like the one on Tuesday and against Manchester City but, we have to start adding wins to go with those performances.
Monday’s game at home to West Brom is the most perfect opportunity we could have asked for to do that, but then again they have played the Pulis card. Crystal Palace at Goodison last season anyone?
You never know what to expect with Everton but we really should win on Monday. Then confidence will really be up.
I personally don’t feel this defeat will affect the players but only serve to motivate them.
Man of the Match: Joel Robles