Everton 5 Hull City 1: match report
Fabio Capello is hardly likely to have earmarked Hull City's trip to Goodison Park as a must-see on his pre-World Cup itinerary, but the England manager would have found an afternoon in Merseyside's spring sunshine hugely instructive. David Moyes's side not only, of course, boast Leighton Baines, England's newest international, but could point to Phil Jagielka's first start for 11 months, as well as the presence of Jack Rodwell, thought to be on the cusp of a call-up to the Italian's full squad, and two of the Italian's probable opponents in Rustenburg, Landon Donovan and Tim Howard, while Jozy Altidore, another USA international, featured for Phil Brown's team. Yet the most valuable lesson Capello could possibly have learned here concerned not a player he will have, or will have to best, in South Africa, but one who will not be there at all. Mikel Arteta dominated this game with an elegant ease, scoring twice, narrowly denied a third, and orchestrating his side's play with verve and imagination. Had Arteta been born in Basingstoke, rather than the Basque country, he would be a shoo-in for Capello's squad. His first goal proved his energy, racing on to Yakubu's cross and toe poking past Boaz Myhill at his near post, while his second showcased his composure, sliding home Steven Pienaar's backheel with consummate ease. It is telling that Arteta finds the path to his own national side blocked by 10 players, maybe more. That is a measure of Spain's class. That is what Capello must overcome if he is to fulfil the hectoring demands of a nation increasingly frenzied in its optimism. Whatever Capello's concerns, though, they will pale into insignificance compared to those which must weigh down Phil Brown. Despite teenager Tom Cairney's exquisite first goal for the club, a dipping volley from the edge of the box after a poor clearance from Jagielka, Hull were fortunate to go in at the break just a goal down, Yakubu's dreadful penalty saved by Myhill before the visitors drew level. After the interval, though, from the moment Richard Garcia denied Arteta his hat-trick by heading the Basque's chipped cross into his own net just after the break, what should have been a spit-and-sawdust Premier League duel took on the air of an exhibition match. Pienaar unveiled his full repertoire of tricks, producing reverse passes, backheels and elaborate stepovers with an abandon which bordered on the reckless. Everton poured forward, Arteta dictating the tempo, players lining up to score, seeking to pile on their guests' humiliation. Jack Rodwell twice went close, Sylvain Distin and Yakubu both meandered through the heart of the visiting defence only to squander their opportunities at the last, the latter blasted Landon Donovan's inviting cross high from no more than 10 yards. They got number four, thanks to Donovan, the US international hammering a shot past Myhill after Baines's comparatively tame cross evaded Hull's ragged, demoralised defence, and five, after the American rolled the ball into Rodwell's path. It was no less than the hosts, or their guests, deserved.
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