A disappointing second half performance where we never really got to grips with the Everton midfield led to our first loss since the mess at the Reebok at the start of November. The first half saw Rafael Van der Vaart equalise Louis Sahaâ€™s early goal and by the end he could easily have had a hat trick but instead a couple of good saves from Howard and the inability of Jenas, Modric and the back four to cope with the directness of Coleman in particular probably meant that we canâ€™t complain about the result.
We quickly recovered from the shock of Sahaâ€™s third minute strike and both VdV and Crouch couldâ€™ve scored before in the eleventh minute the Dutchman got on the end of the beanpoleâ€™s header across the six yard box to nod seemingly through a statuesque Howard. We attacked with some of our normal verve for most of the rest of the half but Fellaini, Pienaar and Coleman worked hard and none of Modric, Lennon or Bale got on the ball as much as we wouldâ€™ve hoped.
Bale squared to an offside Crouch just before half time who slotted home. If that â€˜goalâ€™ had stood then who knows? But it didnâ€™t.
The second half started slowly but with the home team marginally on top. Bale went off with a worrying looking hip injury and Kranjcar came on to give the same slightly off the pace performance he did at Bolton. Benny was already having problems with Coleman and the reduction in help down that side led to the Everton player running into our box seemingly at will. Ironically it was in the period when weâ€™d managed to wrestle a bit of possession and put some pressure on the home defence that we went behind for the second time. In the 75th minute Everton broke quickly just as weâ€™ve been doing to teams of late. Gomes pushed Sahaâ€™s shot straight at Coleman who headed in the rebound.
We hustled and bustled and went more direct but couldnâ€™t get a clear sight of goal. With a bit of luck Van der Vaart couldâ€™ve repeated his Villa trick and put us clear well before the end but it wasnâ€™t his night.
Defensively we lacked composure. Everton worked hard, kept Lennon and Bale quiet and in Coleman had the man who made difference.
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