Two early goals, one each from Pavlyuchenko and Modric, put Spurs on top quickly in this game but a half time tactical switch by David Moyes and a serious looking injury to Tom Huddlestone meant that Everton nearly repeated their December trick of coming from behind to take something from the match. Indeed, if Landon Donovan had directed his shot inside instead of outside the post from a yard out after 76 minutes then they probably would have done so.
Following their tonking in Lisbon Moyes tinkered with his line up and it looked a poor move for most of the first half as we were comfortably the better team. After ten minutes Huddlestone put Defoe clear with a great pass from his own half and Pav continued his fine run of form by turning in JDâ€™s shot come cross. After 27 minutes came a goal made in Croatia as Kranjcar, Corluka & Modric strung at least half a dozen passes together on the edge of the area before Luka turned into space in the box and struck a lovely shot over Howard and off the underside of the bar. Other goals should have followed, the best opportunities came as a result of Bale breaking clear. In response Rodwell missed a free header after a good Everton move down the right but their only other threat came when Gomes failed to hold on to a couple of crosses.
For long periods in the second half we looked as uncomfortable as we did comfortable in the first. Everton swapped off Osman, brought on Jagielka and moved Heitinga into the base of midfield. Arteta played further forward and all of a sudden the men in blue were everywhere, harassing high up the pitch and forcing us back. Even Yakubu was temporarily transformed from big lump to decent looking player and it was he who got one back for the Toffees. Unchallenged by Corluka, Rodwell headed an Arteta corner back across goal and after Gomes got himself in a tangle trying to get round Anichebe all the Yak had to do was touch the ball into an empty net. Perhaps he should give lessons to Donovan.
By this time Big Tom had been carried off after he was caught late by Heitinga whilst shooting from the edge of the box. Kaboul came on apparently with instructions to not cross the halfway line so unadventurous was he. A keeper, four defenders and two forwards filled the subs bench. With Jenas, Lennon and Bentley injured (presumably), Oâ€™Hara on loan and Harry unwilling to throw Parrett or Bostock in then weâ€™ll be really exposed if Huddlestone is seriously hurt.
The Everton fans had been very quiet but got behind their team for a spell after the goal as Rodwell & Pienaar forced saves from Gomes and Jagielka missed a free header from a corner. We struggled to keep possession and made few chances at the other end with pot shots from Kranjcar and Corluka being the highlights.
It was David Moyes who helped us out in the end. As Everton pressed he fell to temptation and brought off the impressive Rodwell for a forward in James Vaughan. The pressure in midfield reduced, the opposition strikers got in each otherâ€™s way and we survived the last ten minutes and the six minutes of added time without any more scares, indeed Howardâ€™s save from Kranjcar was the closest anyone came to a goal.
So, three points were gained from a hard fought game, and we deserved the points too despite the nervous and edgy ending. Donovanâ€™s miss was crucial, as too was the injury to Huddlestone. Fingers crossed heâ€™ll be okay for next weekâ€™s quarter final, itâ€™s got to be touch and go though.
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