Thank you, Landon Donovan of the USA! This was a huge win for us, but the American had a great chance to peg us back to 2-2, and somehow missed a tap in at the far post. My mate was so certain that Everton were about to score that he turned away in disgust, and was then left scratching his head as to why the Toffees fans werenâ€™t jumping up and down.
Anyway, the Yank missed and weâ€™ve had plenty this season gone the wrong way so Iâ€™m not about to apologise. This was a good football match â€“ something else Iâ€™ve not had much chance to say this season. We were mostly impressive in the first half. The team plays differently when Crouch isnâ€™t in it. No big criticism of Crouchy intended â€“ I just think the temptation is always there to hit it long and high when the beanpole plays. Pavlyuchenko is a different breed. We played smart, passing football, and Pav it was that opened the scoring, meeting Defoeâ€™s scuffed attempt across goal with a simple finish.
Then we had a bad trot, where we kept giving the ball away, and when we emerged from that Luka Modric beat Tim Howard with a sublime finish that went in off the crossbar. Everton didnâ€™t show much in that first half, but we saw their prowess in the second. They bossed it really, though we were disrupted by the loss of Tom Huddlestone soon after half time. Yakubu pulled one back â€“ an untidy goal from a corner (not sure if Gomes was fouled). Gomes made a couple more saves, Donovan had his mad moment and on the break we were a constant threat as well.
Gareth Bale and Modric were both outstanding, and thank God we held on for a tight and hard fought three points, every one of which is gold at the moment.
Star man: Luka Modric â€“ bright, inventive and slippery
Best moment: Modricâ€™s goal â€“ our second. Howard seemed bamboozled.
Tactics: 4-4-2 with Pavlyuchenko in for Crouch. With inventive players wide like Modric, Kranjcar and the ever-willing Bale, we tried to play an expansive, up-tempo game
Opposition fans: Pretty poor â€“ unheard until they scored
By Andy Knaggs
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