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Everton FC 2 Chelsea 1 - Greg O'Keeffe on the Blues winning the hard way
Published : 11 Feb 2010 05:00:00
EVERTON Football Club and Louis Saha may just be the perfect match. For decades Bluenoses have had cause to sigh wearily, and wonder out loud why their grand old team just never seems to do things the easy way. The Toffees arrived at Anfield last weekend for the 213th Merseyside derby in fine fettle, routinely backed to topple their bitter rivals for the first time in 11 years. Liverpool went a man down - and the Blues choked. So how wonderfully, predictably Everton was it that only four days later David Moyes' men should pick themselves up, brush off their despondency and defeat the league leaders for the first time under the Scot? Goodison Park regulars have long learned to expect the unexpected, and shun the obvious. It certainly adds extra delight to Goodison nights like these. Likewise Saha. The Frenchman could have notched his 15th goal of the season with a straightforward penalty against Chelsea. But that would have been too straightforward. Just like his contrary club, Saha took the hard but ultimately rewarding route - and won the game for the Blues with a goal borne of world-class ability. The striker's towering leap over John Terry and exocet finish past one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, encapsulated every last bit of his enigmatic brilliance. For his manager it was validation of a confidence in progress unshaken by the derby setback. It also underlined why he was right to seal a new deal for Saha, as Chelsea were beaten for the first time in 10 years by Everton thanks to the ex-Manchester United man's timely brace. The game had started patchily, as John Terry's early touches were booed pantomime style by the Goodison crowd, but otherwise the disgraced star was largely ignored. Evertonians had more pressing concerns, and the atmosphere was muted despite the boost of Mikel Arteta making his first start for the Blues in almost a year. But Everton's battling 3-3 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in December had suggested the Blues were getting closer to an elusive win against their opponents. David Moyes had stressed beforehand that his side needed to improve their set-pieces, but Mikel Arteta was unable to beat the first man from the Blues' first free-kick. Arteta was not the only player in blue showing initial rustiness.