Roberto Martinez will be sleeping a bit easier on Saturday night after his Everton side finally took all three points — and took them from Chelsea to boot. The win brings the Toffees up into 9th place, while Chelsea fail to gain any ground, sitting in sixth.
The opening goal of the match came as a surprise to…well, pretty much everyone. It was Chelsea that had been applying heavy pressure on Everton for the last fifteen minutes. Samuel Eto’o took advantage of an error by Tim Howard, but Gareth Barry flew in to save the Everton goalkeeper. Then Eto’o set up Ramires, but that time, Howard stretched his fingers just enough to keep out the ball. As the half drew to a close, Andre Schurrle, Branislav Ivanovic and Juan Mata all came close.
Chelsea would come to rue those missed chances.
Just before the whistle blew to signal the end of the first half, Everton knocked in their first and only goal — the goal that would wind up getting the Toffees all three points. Petr Cech had just saved a header from Seamus Coleman when his attention was drawn to Nikica Jelavic, lurking near the post. But rather than taking a shot himself, the Croatian headed across to Steven Naismith, who was able to easily head on past the Chelsea goalkeeper.
The visitors did not take kindly to this cheeky goal, and came out after the break ready to find an equalizer — or even better, all three points. But again, the goal remained elusive for the Blues. Eto’o and Ramires again went close, but just couldn’t seem to find their target. Oscar, on for Mata, had his shot blocked. Nothing seemed to be working for Chelsea.
So what did Jose Mourinho do? He took off Ashley Cole and replaced him with Fernando Torres, to the utter astonishment of almost everyone watching the match. Chelsea shifted to a back three, with Ramires and Eden Hazard operating more as wingbacks. With Chelsea chasing the game, conceding was of little importance — Mou simply wanted goals, and lots of them.
It very nearly worked — and it may have, if Howard hadn’t managed to keep his wits about him. John Terry got on the end of a cross from Frank Lampard, but Howard was there in time. Shortly thereafter, it was Eto’o and Ramires combining again, but Howard was up to the task. Finally, as sort of a final hurrah, Torres put his 90th minute shot wide.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines, Osman, Barry, Mirallas (Deulofeu 92), Naismith (Stones 89), Barkley, Jelavic (McCarthy 65)
Subs not used: Robles, Heitinga, Oviedo, Gueye
Chelsea: Cech, Ivanovic, Luiz, Terry, Cole (Torres 69), Ramires, Mikel, Schurrle (Lampard 57), Hazard, Mata (Oscar 57), Eto’o
Subs not used: Essien, De Bruyne, Schwarzer, Cahill