With a smile wider than Jack Nicholson’s Joker in Batman, I couldn’t wait to finish work to write down my thoughts on a superb Everton victory in our most iconic moment of the season.
Wolfsburg 0 Everton 2: Away day Masterclass Has Blues Dreaming Of Europa Triumph
To choose to do this away to Germany’s second best team and seal top spot in Group H was wonderful. All the frustration of a stuttering start to the season poured out as the blues, albeit with some luck along the way, put in an almost perfect away performance to underline just how dangerous an opponent we can be for anybody in the Europa
is going to fancy playing us when the draw is made.
No Coleman, no Baines as two of Europe’s finest attacking wing-backs added to the absence of arguably our most influential player, Gareth Barry. Coupled with James McCarthy limping off injured after half an hour, this win was even more impressive than it may have looked.
Roberto has utilised his squad very well. Having seen Garbutt enjoy an excellent European debut I’m still not sure why we had to endure Tony Hibbert at left back against West Ham but two wins out of two says Roberto knows best. Everton are not just coping with the demands of the Europa League, they are revelling in it.
The competition is perfect for our style of play. If we just entertain the notion that one day we’ll have a fully fit squad then this season has a mouth-watering sense of expectation about it.
The slow burn approach from Martinez this season has seen Everton slowly rise through the gears and like a classic episode of the A-Team, Roberto’s plan is slowly coming together. The team is growing and the confidence that we can usurp last seasons achievements amongst the fan base is growing with it.
This win, with an injury list longer than Kenwright’s search for investment, is hugely impressive. We had to ride our luck at times as Wolfsburg’s high paced and ruthless approach to committing men forward had us on the back foot for long periods. Wolfsburg set at us like wild dogs from the start and Perisic, a player I’d love to see at Goodison, shot into the side netting as the Germans looked to register early.
Sylvain Distin had Everton’s first chance of note, his header tipped onto the crossbar from Benaglio from a gem of a corner from the impressive Euro debutant Garbutt. Soon after Aaron Hunt came close with a stinging drive that Howard turned excellently round the post to keep the blues level.
Everton were soaking the pressure up like a newly bought sponge and with the focus on counter attacks, the Germans for all their own threat could not rest with us. We looked ruthless. Certainly respectful of our free flowing opponents but in no way intimidated we sought to lay as many gloves on them as they did us.
The remarkable support our club has is wonderful to see and it’s having a positive effect on our progress in the competition. The city of Warsaw deserves to see Evertonians in full voice next May and frankly we all deserve a trip to the Polish capital.
Lets hope were all changing our money to Zlotys in May.
The players and the fans are absolutely loving it. Travelling again in numbers that would have filled a Queen Wembley concert in the 80’s, let alone an away end at a 30,000 seater stadium.
The sort of luck needed for us to win this competition came mid way through the first half when the linesman, easily persuaded thankfully, took note of the Everton back line’s half-baked attempts to dispute Perisic’s ‘goal’ and duly disallowed it. Puffed cheeks everywhere but Jagielka had clearly played the Croatian onside and the Germans were unlucky not to go into the lead.
A few minutes later Mirallas signaled his intent with a venomous drive that was dealt with by Benaglio like he was swatting away a wasp at a picnic. Unorthodox stuff but job done.
Wolfsburg are very similar to us in my view. They create an concede loads of chances in equal measure and while we have tightened up significantly, due to the nature of our play we do look vulnerable at times. However, confidence is growing and nobody will fancy playing us in the knockout stages and two Belgians are one of many reasons why, but that’s for later.
Wolfsburg, ever the danger when attacking, saw the impressive De Bruyne denied by an excellent block from Jagielka as the Germans pressed before half time. Jags and Distin impressing in a team of outstanding performers for Everton.
Everton did not fade under the pressure but instead hit back harder – pure Rocky IV style – on the stroke of half time. A blistering counter attack saw the blues play the ball out of defence following a period of pressure from Wolfsburg. Before Mirallas found Lukaku with a delicious pass.
Lukaku almost had blues pulling yet more clumps of hair out with an all too typical awful first touch but Big Rom regained possession and his composure to hold off two Wolfsburg defenders to burst through at pace and finish clinically past Benaglio. The blues in front and right at the perfect time.
The earlier kick off between Lille and Krasnodor ending in a 1-1 draw gave the blues the perfect half time tonic of already qualifying for the knockout stages, but the work to land the all important top spot was just beginning, with Wolfsburg starting the second half just as they did the first.
Perisic’s low drive drew a great save from Tim Howard as the Germans tried to restore parity. The embarrassment of Nicholas Bendtner scoring against us was avoided when the linesman ruled the former Arsenal striker’s close range header correctly offside.
But as much as Wolfsburg were hurting us, we kept hurting them back and our potency was displayed as the blues countered through Osman who fed Lukaku. Benaglio could only beat out the Belgian’s powerful shot into the six yard box, the ball fell to McGeady and with it the chance to win a few blues over. On his favored right foot, the Irishman sliced over unforgivably with the goal at his mercy.
In Mcgeady’s defence – I admit I’m not his biggest fan – he worked tirelessly but so he should. He also played a part in keeping the dangerous De Bruyne quiet. I just wish our Irish winger could strike some consistency in his play attacking wise.
Everton were growing stronger at containing the ceaseless Wolfsburg and the platform was laid for a beautiful second goal. Perfectly summing up our continued improvement at counter attacking football under Roberto. Everton scored one right out of the away day textbook.
Lukaku, who looked every inch a 28m pound player – that bloke at the back of me in the upper Gwladys last weekend will be fuming as his personal scapegoat certainly looked the part here.
Doing a slow motion impression of Limpar at Anfield before setting up Kanchelskis, Lukaku found space in the middle of the park after evading two challenges, before playing an inch perfect slide rule pass to free Mirallas with only Naldo for company.
Mirallas twisted and turned Naldo inside out before firing low past the stranded Benaglio to double Everton’s lead and send the travelling support into orbit.
Wolfsburg pressed and pressed but were left frustrated thanks to some excellent defending from Everton. A true determination to keep a clean sheet was admirable against such quality. Slowly but surely our attacking and defending are becoming as ruthless as one another.
Luke Garbutt also deserves special praise. Playing with terrific composure and common sense, I hope the blues sort his contract out in the summer. It would be a huge shame to let a player of Garbutt’s talent walk out the door.
Everton were denied a third when the linesman deemed Barkley offside although with my blue-tinted shades on he looked level with the Wolfsburg full back. Barkley’s finish was as clinical as the goals that had handed Everton a huge victory.
Full time had arrived and a victory to get everyone going again A truly excellent performance at a side only bettered by Bayern Munich in domestic league form. With a host of first team players out, this now has all the makings of a great season.
Can we win the Europa League? Why not? The style of play suits us perfectly as players such as Eto’o and Barry are worth their weight in gold – considerable bling in Eto’o’s case – and the know-how these guys bring will help the teammore #EvertonThat performances please blues, it’s time to fulfill our undoubted quality. Starting at Spurs.
The Londoners looked as vulnerable as their stewards against Partizan and there’s no reason why we cant get all three points at White Hart Lane. The overwhelming sense that this club is on the cusp of something huge is growing by the week.
I could be getting carried away, I most probably am, but we certainly have the quality to end our ridiculous trophy drought this season.
“We are building something special going into the second half of the season. That is our objective.” Roberto Martinez.
If we attack the rest of our games like we countered Wolfsburg here, that objective will end with a trophy