Frequently, low-scoring matches are the mark of epic goal-keeping performances – this game was the epitome of resilient defences and even better saves. Tim Howard will feel hard done after keeping Everton in the game with a string of reflex saves until an 89th winner by Willian snuck in at his near-post much to the relief and elation of the Chelsea team.
This crucial last minute goal, keeps Chelsea 7 points clear at the top, ahead of Manchester City who won away at Stoke.
Winning ugly is a sign of a good team, but tonight Chelsea lacking the cutting edge of the suspended Diego Costa struggled to finish with any conviction. Chelsea had twenty-one shots on target but Howard keen to prove his fitness after a 6 week calf injury magnificently saved seven. Cech too, showed incredible reactions to save several shots most memorably a close range attempt from Lukaku on 67 minutes, who perhaps will rue this missed chance.
The decisive winner came as a result of Everton ill-discipline. Gareth Barry tripped Willian in the 87th minute and received his second yellow after fouling Cuadrado in the first half. During the ensuing fracas which saw Ivanovic appearing to head-butt McCarthy and a further three yellow cards being issued by referee Jonathan Moss, Everton never re-organised leaving the resulting free kick to end up in Willian’s path, and with a minor deflection sent it past the unlucky Howard.
Watch the goal below:
Chelsea’s dogged perseverance was summed up by new signing Cuadrado who impressed on his home debut linking well with Ivanovic, Willian and Hazard and demonstrating a tireless work ethic.
Everton too had chances enjoying more possession in a lively opening period which saw Cech stop a powerful shot from Lukaku for the first time on 27 minutes. However after this, it largely became a home-team dominated affair with Chelsea beginning a siege on Howard’s goal until Willian became the villain for the travelling Everton fans.
In an ill-tempered game that was in stark contrast to the nine goal thriller when the teams last met in April, both managers defended their own players. Mourinho was in usual bullish form, disapproving of post-match questions relating to Ivanovic’s supposed head-butt on McCarthy.
A discussion because of a red card, a red card that should be given in the first half, because Barry should be sent off in the first half. He pulled Hazard. The second yellow card should be given there.
Martinez however defended Barry.
The last action [booking Barry] is a free kick but giving a yellow card is very harsh. The disappointment is the left back is running 25 yards to run to the referee, and you don’t want to see that. And then the red card gives an unfair momentum which allows them to score a goal.
This result leaves Everton five points above the relegation zone, picking up only 9 points in their last 11 matches. In contrast however, Mouriniho enjoys a seven point lead at the top of the table and reflected on the closeness of the result.
I don’t remember a team to be champions without a couple of victories in the last minute.