Everton 2 (Pienaar 5, Stracqualursi 71)
CHELSEA slid further away from the race for the title and look to have a fight on their hands if they want to qualify for the Champions’ League next season. Before the match manager Andre Villas Boas conceded that his side was out of the title race but if he cannot halt this decline it seems that they will be out of the race for Europe too.
The defeat increases the pressure on Andre Villas Boas who seemed to be coming under closer scrutiny from the club’s hierarchy. Owner Roman Abramovich paid two visits to Chelsea’s training ground at Cobham during the week and speculation about Villas Boas’ future has intensified as his team have stuttered and stumbled their way through matches in recent weeks. Villas Boas won’t need reminding that Carlo Ancelotti was sacked after defeat here last season.
Although this was their first league defeat of 2012 the Blues have now collected just 12 points from their last ten games, a return that is not acceptable for their supporters. Throughout the second half chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” were aimed at Villas Boas from the visiting fans. Coming on the back of a confidence-sapping draw with Manchester United, Chelsea are now vulnerable in fourth place, just a single point ahead of Newcastle United.
Everton were much the better side over the ninety minutes and deserved their two goal victory. Steven Pienaar completed a happy return to Merseyside and did his parent club Spurs a big favour in the process. Pienaar completed a six month loan return to Everton on transfer deadline day and he opened the scoring for the Toffees inside the first five minutes. The ball looped into his path from the toe of Frank Lampard and he smashed it past the powerless Cech.
It was a powerful goal and illustrated Everton’s style of play. They sparkled with wit and invention throughout the game and outplayed Chelsea, who again looked unsure of themselves and what the manager expected of them. There was no invention from the visitors and again Torres failed to fire, collecting another yellow for a bad foul on Pienaar.
David Luiz once again failed to convince in defence. Gary Cahill was dropped for the fit again Ivanovic but neither Ivanovic or Luiz looked assured and in control. Juan Mata was the only creative spark in yet another lacklustre Chelsea attacking performance and he was the only player who offered a genuine attacking threat to the Everton defence. His substitution with just 13 minutes on the clock increased the ire of the away fans.
By that stage Everton had added a second through another loan signing, Denis Stracqualursi. Landon Donovan flicked the ball into his path and he wrong footed Cech and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner despite Cech’s efforts to keep it out.
Everton: T Howard; L Baines; J Heitinga; S Distin, P Neville (capt.); D Gibson (T Hibbert 89); T Cahill; S Pienaar (R Drenthe 74); M Fellaini; L Donovan; D Stracqualursi (S Duffy 90). Yellow cards:
Chelsea: P Cech; B Ivanovic; D Luiz, A Cole (R Bertrand 77); J Bosingwa; M Essien (F Malouda 69); F Lampard; R Meireles; F Torres; J Mata (R Lukaku 77); D Sturridge. Yellow cards: Bosingwa; Meireles; Torres.