Blues pegged back by controversial Terry goal in 98th minute of injury time
Everton led 2-0 in excellent display but sloppy defending sees Chelsea score two in two minutes
Three points continue to evade Blues who have become Premier League draw specialists
Everton were denied a long-overdue double against Premier League champions Chelsea as John Terry netted a last-gasp and controversial equaliser.
A cosy first half of football gave way to a frenetic second 45 minutes as both teams went all out for victory. Everton struck first when Leighton Baines’ cross was turned into his own net by Terry. Kevin Mirallas doubled the Toffees’ lead six minutes later with a dazzling turn and half volley in the box.
But a two minute spell of poor defending let Chelsea back into the game as Diego Costa benefited from Phil Jagielka’s hesitation from a long ball. Tim Howard missed his kick and left Costa to tap into an empty net, just moments before Cesc Fabregas’ effort deflected in to level terms.
But Everton’s resolve shone through and the visitors looked to have the game won in the 90th minute through Ramiro Funes Mori. But 50 seconds into the 98th minute of injury time (when only 7 were shown by the fourth official) allowed Terry to turn in from an offside position to rescue a point at the death.
Everton’s controlling football not enforced at vital moments
There was little between the two sides in the first half, with few clear cut chances to speak of, and neither showing enough quality to take the upper-hand; even when both sides seemed intent on handing it to each other.
Everton’s usual, patient and ball-hogging football looked neat and tidy from defence into midfield, but the transition from midfield to attack was fraught with indecision and misunderstanding. Everton’s attacking players just couldn’t quite tune into each other’s frequencies.
But with the commencement of the second half the game instantly opened up for both sides and it didn’t seem like we’d have to wait long before either rearguard was breached, such was the space afforded in wide areas.
The Blues struck in quick succession, both goals proving glorious adverts for the beautiful game in its finest evening wear. Everton moved the ball from back to front, and from right to left in seamless fashion, eventually exploiting space on the left side. Terry’s own-goal may have been a fortunate way to take the lead, but the passing and movement that went before it was expertly and lovingly engineered.
But just 10 minutes later Chelsea were back in the game. Just 12 minutes later, they were level and looked the most likely to take all three points. All it took was a long punt down the throat of the back four and for the slightest bit of hesitancy from skipper Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard to let Costa tap into an empty net.
There was a huge slice of luck about the equaliser -Fabregas’ shot deflecting past Howard- but Everton’s midfielders were left standing still as Fabregas and Willian exchanged passes to open up space.
After Costa’s substitution, Everton resumed control. But what is frightening about Martinez’s side is that it took only two minutes of ineptitude to undo all the good work of the previous 66. The Catalan speaks often about controlling the game, but Everton’s failure to exert this control at vital moments is costing them dearly.
Change comes from within – football doesn’t owe Everton
For Evertonians, the hardest part of swallowing this particularly bitter pill is that it is so familiar. Conceding goals so late in games is not the kind of repeat prescription that fans (and indeed a club) can tolerate for long, so Blues will be keen to see this particular trend peter out sooner than later.
The comparison with the Bournemouth game is obvious (I’m still figuring out which 3-3 is the more sickening) and it’s just one of 11 occasions when a draw has left Everton feeling beaten. A league high, that count has seen Everton awarded the unwanted ‘draw specialist’ tag but it’s a description that certainly fits this Everton side.
Frightening in attack, the Blues have been equally as terrifying defending their own goal. And while in this particular game we can look to the official’s part in Everton’s last minute demise (I hope questions are asked as to why 50 extra seconds were played after the allocated seven minutes injury time were up, and as to why Terry’s goal stood when it was scored from an offside position); considering this, it’s still yet another example of Everton failing to win games from winning positions.
Martinez’s comments after the game, while soaked in frustration, were also dripping with sickening self-pity: “I do feel that if we keep the standards and keep playing the way we are, football will pay us back.”
Unfortunately for Everton, this strange cosmic presence that Martinez seems to infer simply does not exist. Football doesn’t owe any team anything. As we have seen first hand, some teams get the rub of the green (Blues we’re quick to sweep under the carpet the certain penalty that wasn’t awarded against John Stones at City on Wednesday) but if Everton and Martinez feel that they just have to sit tight and wait for the deceased footballing idealists of the School of Science-netherworld to deliver them a points-laden rebate is (to put it kindly) foolish.
If Everton end up mid-table after 38 games, then that will be exactly where they deserve to finish. What is in Everton’s favour this season is that the Premier League is as open and unpredictable as it has ever been, and if they can only put two or three wins together in a row then they’ll find themselves well placed. What they must do is look for change within, instead of waiting for a football payout from the Holy Trinity.