Saturday, 15 December 2012

Everton 2-1 Spurs : Lessons Learned

Originally from
Sometimes, it can be hard to explain feelings and emotions; it is difficult to convey those exact memories into words and phrases for others to make sense of. Those brief moments which leave you in a momentary state of shock, and therefore are remembered for a long time to come.
For me, one moment of such significance came as Nikica Jelavić scored the unexpected winner – at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur – in the dying moments of what was an astounding fixture at Goodison Park. I stood there, hands on my head in sheer disbelief, as thousands of Evertonians echoed the ecstasy I felt around me. Relieved laughter, teamed with voiced joy, left my ears ringing with immense satisfaction.
I predicted Sunday’s meeting with Andre Villas-Boas’ side to be fast-paced, rather open and end-to-end. For a large section of the match,I was wrong. Instead, neither of the two teams could grasp the opening stages by its collar and seriously threaten the opposition. A lot of intricate passing was involved as a tentative approach from both teams initiated the game.
Spurs suggested that they were able to keep hold of the ball well; and they were. However, that does not mean they were able to do anything with it, other than lose it in the Everton penalty area. Tim Howard held on to the odd shot with a strong hand, while the Toffees flirted with Hugo Lloris’ goalmouth now and again. Whether they could produce anything effective, on the other hand, was a different story.
Jelavić seemed to be having another one of those days; and to be fair, for just over ninety minutes, he was. He had a mixed experience, appearing lively one minute, and out of position the next, provoking varying fear from the Tottenham centre-backs. They were looking vulnerable on occasions, too: especially William Gallas. Although the Croat received a standing ovation which his heroic strike merited, his overall performance was under par for the man who surprised the Premier League last year.
Apostolos Vellios, currently utilised as an impact substitution, is clearly aware of how Jelavić’s place may or may not be guaranteed – as his desperation for a starting role in Moyes’ team is reflected by his efforts on the field of play.
Returning star Kevin Mirallas made quite an impact upon the first half, influentially linking up with Seamus Coleman in aid of providing assistance down the right flank; the Irishman’s overlaps and pace are features of his play which will result in Tony Hibbert, the adored warrior, warming the bench on a regular basis. When Mirallas’ afternoon concluded prematurely, it was down to Steven Naismith to re-ignite the inspiration of the right.
The Scotsman’s colleague, who calls the left side of the midfield his own, plugged away constantly. Although Steven Pienaar and his partner Leighton Baines were literally functioning in tiny pockets of space and found it difficult to produce much, their consistency was greatly appreciated and invaluable given the end result. Baines’ tackling – bar his yellow card offence – was near-perfection, and he easily kept Aaron Lennon at bay. In fact, Everton’s defensive performance was outstanding: Sylvain Distin’s partnership with temporary captain Phil Jagielka meant that the feared strike force of Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor were kept quiet, succumbing to a fine example of defensive brilliance.
The star of the show, from beginning to end, was Darron Gibson. As usual, both his long range and short, delicate passing was nothing short of perfection. Whether it be a ball from the depths of midfield to the forwards or steadying the tempo inside the centre circle, the reliable Irishman was flawless, maintaining and preserving the Blues’ ability to press on and on until the incredible climax unfolded. If ever there was an integral part to a squad, Gibson is the finest of examples for said accolade.
Combined, the outstanding and persistent individual performances of those in the royal blue shirts created quite some outcome.
When Tottenham took the lead through Clint Dempsey’s deflected shot, no Evertonian expected less than a point by the time that the final whistle would echo around Goodison Park. As we all know, it was to be more than the proposed point which awaited David Moyes and the faithful Evertonians.
Referee Kevin Friend’s watch ticked ever closed to the 90 minute mark, and in the dying seconds of normal time, relief struck Goodison Park. Steven Naismith found Seamus Coleman prowling the edge of the penalty area; in a heartbeat, the right-back laid a practised cross onto the head of an oncoming Steven Pienaar. The South-African displayed his pure celebratory passion as the match ball came to a halt in the opposition’s goal.
Play resumed from the kick-off, and I fully expected to leave the historic ground having witnessed a draw. Nevertheless, Nikica Jelavić had other things in mind, and took matters into his own hands – or rather his predatory feet – and simply converted Apostolos Vellios’ over-head kick assist a short distance from goal. It is rare that the Goodison crowd explodes with such emotion, and it is an experience many Evertonians will crave to be part of again.
Thousands of Blues just could not sit down; it seemed too surreal to believe from my perspective. The laughter of disbelief rippled throughout the intense ocean of spectators as Jelavić trotted back from his violently fantastic and meaningful celebration. Despite Villas-Boas’ questionable tactics, coming from a goal down in a matter of minutes to prevail over a club like Spurs is no easy task, and one that Everton should, ultimately, take the utmost credit for.
I hold no doubt that, when the many Evertonians sat down to watch Match of the Day 2 on Sunday evening, an irremovable smile was spread across their faces: and rightly so.

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