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Everton 2 Chelsea 1: match report
Published : 10 Feb 2010 16:49:47Rss feed
For all the embarrassing headlines and revelations he has had to endure over the past fortnight, not even his twelve minute audience with Fabio Capello last Friday will have proved as uncomfortable for John Terry as his 90-minute mauling at the hands of Louis Saha. Terry's failings are rarely exposed on a football pitch, but Everton forward Saha's centre-forward master-class did just that to the Chelsea captain as his two goals claimed victory for David Moyes's team and reduced Chelsea's lead at the top of the table to just one point. Related ArticlesChelsea give Terry compassionate leavePremier League tablePremier League actionPremier League fixturesTelegraph player raterMourinho targeted by mafiaGoodison Park hasn't been the home of the league champions for over two decades, but it remains a hazardous venue for all teams with title-winning ambitions. Good teams can drop points here, so emerging from this blue corner of Liverpool with a victory can rarely be taken for granted.Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will have identified this fixture as a difficult one for Chelsea, just as Carlo Ancelotti will view United's visit here in nine days' time as a potential roadblock for his team's closest title rivals. Catch Everton on the wrong day and they can inflict damage, so Ancelotti will have been expecting a defiant Evertonian response to Saturday's defeat gainst a ten-man Liverpool at Anfield. And so it proved. David Moyes may have been without the suspended Steven Pienaar and injured Marouane Fellaini in midfield, but their grit and tenacity was replaced by the greater creativity of Mikel Arteta, starting his first game since returning from a cruciate ligament injury, and the Russian Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. As a result, Everton were able to claw their way back into the game in the first half after Florent Malouda's eighth goal of the season had put Chelsea ahead on 17 minutes. Arteta has his qualities, but out-muscling Didier Drogba to clear a long punt forward from Petr Cech isn't one of them. Drogba's ability to flick Cech's ball on to Malouda, having barely noticed Arteta's attempt to thwart him, enabled the French midfielder to break clear of Phil Neville before guiding a left-foot shot past goalkeeper Tim Howard from 15 yards. At that point, Chelsea marginally deserved their lead, but Everton responded to falling behind and the visitors began to lose the midfield battle. Arteta and Leon Osman dominated the central areas, while Landon Donovan and Bilyaletdinov stretched the game and Chelsea's back four. Both Chelsea full-backs, Branislav Ivanovic and Ashley Cole, quickly had the white chalk of the touchline on their boots. Bilyaletdinov almost created an equaliser on 28 minutes when his cross from the left resulted in Leighton Baines volleying straight at Cech from 12 yards. But the Everton leveller came five minutes later when Donovan's outswinging corner was emphatically headed in by Saha. Chelsea captain John Terry, spared the booing by opposing fans that has accompanied him since recent revelations surrounding his private life, was worryingly caught out by Saha, who lost him at the near post to win the header without the centre-half within sight. Saha had hauled Everton level, but he proceeded to waste two golden chances to put Moyes's team ahead before the interval. Having aimed a volley from Donovan's cross straight at Cech, the former Fulham and Manchester United forward then saw Cech save his 44th minute penalty, which had been awarded by referee Alan Wiley as a result of Ricardo Carvalho's foul on Donovan. Saha, who last week committed his future to Everton for another two years, was a constant irritant for Terry and his fellow defenders. This was the Saha that Ferguson paid £12m for in 2004, the unplayable bully whose pace and touch tied Terry in knots. All that was missing was the finishing touch and, just as in the first half, Saha's radar was off-beam when he escaped Terry yet again before volleying wide on 50 minutes. Chelsea regained their composure after that miss, but they were rocked back again when Cole limped out of the game following a robust challenge by Donovan, who had spent almost an hour tormenting the England full-back. Terry had no such escape route to the dressing-room, however, and Saha continued to dominate him. And the killer blow came on 75 minutes when, after beating Terry to Sylvain Distin's long clearance, he lashed an unstoppable volley past Cech. A favour to Ferguson and his old United team-mates, but Saha could prove just as damaging to their title hopes when they call into Goodison next week.
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