Shocking 2nd Half Sees Blues Drop Crucial Points

  • Thriller at the Vitality Stadium as Stanislas equalises with the last kick of the game.

  • Everton in command in first half with goals from Funes Mori & Lukaku

  • But shocking 2nd half performance lets home side off the hook, despite last gasp Barkley goal

Shocking 2nd half sees Blues drop crucial points

Shocking 2nd Half Sees Blues Drop Crucial Points

By @Joe3Carroll

Bournemouth twice came from behind to secure a point against Everton, scoring with the last kick of the game in a thrilling finale.

Everton cruised into a 2-0 lead in the first half of a windy encounter at the Vitality Stadium. Romiro Funes Mori netted from a corner while Romelu Lukaku doubled Everton’s lead on 36 minutes.

But Bournemouth showed tremendous character to force their way back into the game, helped by a lifeless second half performance from Everton.

Adam Smith’s wonderful long range strike gave Tim Howard no chance and Junior Stanislas completed the comeback with three minutes of normal time to play.

And there was time for more drama, as Ross Barkley thought he’d won the game, swivelling and firing home from close range in the final minute of injury time. But seconds from kick off, and with the last touch of the game Stanislas headed in from close range to earn a deserved point.

Jekyll & Hyde style performance leaves Blues with only themselves to blame

4 o’clock on Saturday afternoon and Evertonians everywhere are enjoying an uneventful weekend. It’s cold and blustery outside but Everton are leading 2-0 on the south coast.

They’ve registered their very first goal of the season from a set-piece; a first Everton goal for Funes Mori. Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku have combined once more in what has fast become one of the Premier League’s most deadly attacking combinations.

All in all, a good 45 minute’s work in the life a professional footballer, and a comfortable watch for Evertonains. But as we know all too well, football really is a game of two halves.

The difference between the Everton team that walked out in the first minute and that which sauntered out for the 46th, could not have been more stark, despite an unchanged XI. While the Everton of the first half -Dr Jekyll- were assured at the back, combative and energetic in midfield, and incisive on the break, the Everton of the second half -yes, Mr Hyde- were sluggish and ineffective.

Bournemouth themselves showed a distinct change in character, brimming with energy and fight where the visitors were lacklustre; second best in every aspect of play. After riding their luck, Everton’s chance to put the game beyond any doubt arrived and disappeared quicker than it takes Deulofeu to comb back that blonde quiff. Coleman’s cross on the hour needed just a touch to send it goal-ward, but Lukaku failed to make contact from inside the area.

So, why were Bournemouth allowed to come from behind, with the game still at 2-0 with 10 minutes to go?

Martinez slow to react to poor 2nd half, but Everton lacked leadership?

Coming up with a one-factor explanation is too simplistic, but ultimately Everton’s defensive fragility resurfaced. That’s not to lay the blame solely at the door of Everton’s back four: Stones and Funes Mori have fared well as a young and inexperienced centre back pairing.

All 11 players have to take responsibility for the manner in which Bournemouth were allowed to score three goals in 15 final minutes. Too many players appeared to switch to auto-pilot in the second half, perhaps hoping to conserve energy for the looming Capital One Cup quarter final on Tuesday.

But while Everton seemed to have one eye on their next game (Deulofeu and Kone on too many occasions allowed the Cherries’ full-backs and wide men to double up on Coleman and Galloway), Bournemouth had both eyes firmly on escaping the relegation zone and this manifested into a fabulous and spirited second half performance.

In the absence of Everton’s captain and most experienced centre half, could we also point to a lack of leadership as a cumulative factor in Everton’s demise? Gareth Barry couldn’t keep possession and was notably one of Everton’s worst performers in the second 45. Could Martinez have done something about the increasing amount of pressure Everton were cracking under?

Most of Bournemouth’s play came down Everton’s left flank in the second half, with Smith and Simon Francis putting young Galloway on the back foot. Despite the left-back’s tremendous displays in Leighton Baines’ absence, the 19 year-old looked out of ideas as to how to cope, especially with Kone labouring to provide support.

Could Martinez have made a change to try and combat the team’s struggles on this side? Could Kone have been withdrawn and the more industrious Leon Osman or Aaron Lennon introduced? Could the gaffer have been more clear in ensuring Galloway wasn’t left isolated, with Kone or Barry doing more to cover? When the Blues most desperately needed a leader, none stood up to take responsibility.

Whatever the answers to those questions, Everton’s inability to see out the game from a 2-0, half-time lead is what needs to be analysed by Martinez and his staff. So too the lack of concentration and the huge fall in the standards of recent weeks, and after such a lapse, Evertonians will be hoping to see more of Dr Jekyll and less of Mr Hyde.

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Joe Carroll

Sports/Features Writer for http://football-talk.co.uk, http://theevertonecho.co.uk, http://liverpool-noise.co.uk, http://evertonviral.com/ Evertonian. Likes Stuff