Pienaar celebrated his Goodison Park return by firing the Toffees into a 5th minute lead on another dismal Premier League afternoon for Chelsea and Stracqualursi doubled the advantage in the second half. The defeat left Chelsea, losing at the ground for a 3rd successive year, without a win in four league games and was another setback in its bid to retain a top-four place. Fernando Torres‘ dismal season also continued as the Spaniard again struggled in front of goal and there was further bad news as England left-back Ashley Cole limped off. Chelsea had welcomed back Cole from suspension and Frank Lampard after injury – relegating new signing Gary Cahill back to the bench – but inspiration was lacking.
Chelsea failed to heed that warning and was punished after five minutes when Lampard deflected a Tim Cahill ball over Branislav Ivanovic‘s head. Pienaar raced into the box, controlled the bouncing ball on his chest and smashed past Petr Cech into the roof of the net. Despite the early nature of the goal, it was no more than the hosts deserved and they almost added to it just moments later as a Neville cross was met by the head of Stracqualursi, who nodded inches wide of the post. Chelsea’s first serious attack petered out as Torres, still without a league goal since September, was forced to turn away from goal and play backwards. The pace did not appear to have slowed as the second half commenced, with both sides continuing to show the attacking intent which made the game easy to watch for neutrals. Everton doubled the lead 18 minutes from time after Neville won the ball in midfield from Cole and released Donovan. The American ran at the defence and then flicked a fine ball into the path of Stracqualursi, who calmly wrong-footed Cech and slotted the ball home despite the goalkeeper’s desperate attempt to claw it away. Cole had remained on the ground after the challenge by Neville and, after the restart was delayed while he received treatment, he was unable to continue much longer. Cole looked in much discomfort as he hobbled off to be replaced by Ryan Bertrand.
Chelsea’s defeat intensified the battle for fourth, the final Champions League place, dropping the west london side to fifth behind Arsenal after the Gunners beat Sunderland 2-1. Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas, whose predecessor Carlo Ancelotti was sacked at the same ground last year, described the game as his side’s worst display of the season. “I think today was one of our worst games of the season, if not the worst” said Villas-Boas. “In our performance today we are short of anything positive. “It is a difficult day for us, we take out a lot of negatives from this game.” The victory leaves Everton in 10th place in the league.
Booked : Meireles(42′), Bosingwa(52′), Torres(59′)
Man of the match: Steven Pienaar
Match rating: 7.0/10.
Possession: Everton 33% Chelsea 67%
Attempts (on target): Everton 6 (4) Chelsea 5 (4)
Referee: M. Jones
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