In the cold light of day that was sporting theatre at its finest. Two teams in a bit of a rut gave the afternoon a tension that never left us, and we got a number of notable twists and turns:
Nervous? How about going a goal down after two minutes?
Because of a mistake by our captain.
Who had been rested in the week to improve his chances of a good performance.
The shot was hit by former prodigy Roston Drenthe, making his first Everton start.
Past Mark Schwarzer, who opponents may wish to test with hard, low shots owing to his advancing age.
Danny Murphy’s having a difficult time.
He wangs a drive against the post, it rebounds out, hits Tim Howard, and lollops out of danger. When it’s not going your way, eh?
The equaliser came from Bryan Ruiz, on for Murphy, and as yet unvconvincing in a Fulham shirt. He’d had that debut against Blackburn and missed a key penalty against Chelsea. So he had a bit to do. How about chipping an equaliser into a gap that nobody else even saw? Gasps everywhere.
Then all that got forgotten in the game’s madcap climax.
Zamora scoots through for a 50/50 one-on-one chance with Tim Howard, who is good at these things. Zamora does the hard part, slicing inside the goalkeeper with marvellous skill, then thwacks the ball wide with the net gaping! Have you ever tried dribbling a football in a game? It all starts out well but the further you go the less control you have (over yourself and therefore the ball), and by the end it’s sort of getting away from you and the final act of your adventure is not at all glorious. That’s what I think happened to Zamora. To execute that move to get inside Howard at full-speed took him to the limit of his control, and the resultant shot betrayed this. Only Dembele among our players could have danced inside Howard like that; that Zamora did so was surprising but the finish perhaps less so.
Then Grygera is pulled off because he’s bleeding, and Hughes sent on as a CB with Baird shifted out to the right. Everton score going right through Hughes’s zone.
Chris Baird hacks away to give away a free-kick; Rodwell blasts the ball home. Game over.
Meanwhile, Damien Duff, one of our best players, warmed up for the entire game. Here he watches, forlorn, bemused, or just ready?