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Monday Fulham Stuff (26.04.10)

Started by White Noise, April 26, 2010, 10:15:11 AM

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White Noise

Chris Smalling set for Manchester United starting spot, says Sir Alex Ferguson

Apr 26 2010

By Paul Warburton

SIR Alex Ferguson has told Chris Smalling he will be in Manchester United's first-team next year – and leaving Fulham at the end of the season is not a gamble for the 20-year-old.

However, Smalling, who started in the reserves last August and became an £8million player in the space of seven games, admits the move has put pressure on him.

The defender was a solid replacement for Brede Hangeland in last week's 0-0 draw with Wolves when the Norwegian's wife went into labour on the morning of the match – and kept his place for Sunday's defeat to Everton.

But the smart money is on a young player warming the Old Trafford bench next season while the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic command the first-team places.

But United's boss has reassured Smalling he stands just as much a chance of performing in front of 75,000 each week as the other two.

The defender said: "I'll definitely be starting on the front foot in terms of a first-team place. Sir Alex sat me down and explained where I am – and where I'll be going.

"You start off the season just hoping to get as many games as you can – and then you get an opportunity like this, and yeah, it does bring pressure.

"But it's a compliment and a chance to show what you are worth, and hopefully I can repay it."

White Noise

Hodgson: Hamburg clash forced Everton changes

9:36am Monday 26th April 2010

By Simon Fitzjohn »

Roy Hodgson insisted he was right to field a much-changed side against Everton as Fulham prepare for Thursday's crunch Europa League clash with Hamburg.

The Cottagers will go into their semi-final, second leg showdown with everything to play for, having held the German side to a 0-0 draw last week.

And after resting eight regulars for Sunday's 2-1 defeat to the Toffees, Hodgson was in no mood to apologise.

He said: "I think I should be entitled to change the line-up, especially with the situation we find ourselves in.

"The game on Thursday is obviously a much bigger priority than the game at Everton.

"But to be honest, I am not at all convinced that the 11 players who started in Hamburg would have given as good an account as we did."

Fulham took an early lead through Erik Nevland, before the hosts struck back through a Chris Smalling own-goal and an injury-time Mikel Arteta penalty.

There was even talk of the £25,000 fine dished out to Wolves for fielding a weakened team being applied to the London side, but Hodgson brushed that talk aside.

He added: "We are going into very dangerous ground if the Premier League starts deciding whether a team is strong enough or not.

"I would be amazed if, after the performance we have given against a strong Everton team, whether people would have the temerity to discuss our team selection.

"The Premier League will make the decisions it wants to make, all I can do is answer the question on whether we have a case to answer for letting them down or favouring the opponents by fielding a weaker team.

"I can stand here quite happily knowing that we haven't done that."

Fulham's next three matches: Apr 29 Hamburg (EL, h), May 2 West Ham United (h), 5 Stoke City (h)

White Noise

Everton leave it late to beat weary Fulham and retain hopes of Europe

Everton 2-1 Fulham

Sachin Nakrani at Goodison Park, Sunday 25 April 2010 17.34

David Moyes's 47th birthday was ultimately one of great celebration. His side looked to be heading for a draw which, coupled with Aston Villa's and Liverpool's victories, would have meant the end of their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League, but they instead secured three points thanks to Mikel Arteta's stoppage-time penalty

A draw would have been a particular setback for Everton given that they came up against a Fulham side that contained nine changes from that which drew with Hamburg in their Europa League semi-final first leg on Thursday.

Roy Hodgson's decision to make sweeping changes to his side may irritate those who believe that such a decision denigrates the fairness of the Premier League, but it was hardly surprising given the relative meaningless of this fixture to the visitors as well as the fact that the second leg against Hamburg, which could see Fulham qualify for their first major European final, comes in four days' time. Tiredness was certainly an issue, too, given Fulham had to embark on a 17-hour trek by road to get to Germany.

Everton, therefore, were presented with the perfect opportunity to secure the victory that would maintain their chances of playing in the tournament next season and began in a manner that indicated that they would comfortably take up the chance.

by Guardian Chalkboards

Mikel Arteta was the difference between Everton's victory over Fulham and their defeat earlier in the season. Everton's second-rank attacking players, like Leon Osman, simply do not have the Spaniard's range of passing Their pressing was relentless and their passing crisp, and it came as little surprise when a goalscoring chance was created as early as the second minute. Tony Hibbert swung over a cross from the right-hand side that found Diniyar Bilyaletdinov at the far post. The Russian controlled the ball well and hit a quick shot which looked to be sneaking in but instead clipped the post and went wide.

More chances came for the hosts but remarkably it was Fulham who eventually took the lead. They were, though, aided greatly by Everton and in particular Leighton Baines. The full-back played a poorly weighted back-pass to his goalkeeper, Tim Howard, on 36 minutes which Erik Nevland was able to intercept and chip over the out-rushing American.

Clint Dempsey should have made it 2-0 just before half-time but instead lashed his close-range shot over the bar and Fulham were made to pay for that wastefulness five minutes after the interval when the Everton substitute Victor Anichebe headed in Arteta's cross from close range.

Both sides had chances to win the game, with the clearest falling to Fulham's on-loan striker Stefano Okaka 13 minutes before the end. It looked, though, that there would be no further breakthrough. That was, however, until Chris Baird, one of two plays to survive from the midweek draw with Hamburg, brought down Tim Cahill in the area and Arteta hit the resulting spot kick low and beyond Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal.

White Noise

Everton 2 Fulham 1: match report

Read a full report of the Premier League match between Everton and Fulham at Goodison Park on Sunday April 25 2010.

By Graham Chase

Published: 7:00AM BST 06 May 2010

Even the Beatles felt a sense of anticlimax when they headed to Liverpool after memorable nights in Hamburg, but although their miserable spell on Merseyside continued, this trip to Goodison could have been far more productive for Fulham.

Following Thursday's goalless draw in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final in the German port, Roy Hodgson made nine changes, with Chris Baird, who is suspended for Thursday's return game, the only outfield player to keep his place.

But that tinkering made little difference and Fulham played with real purpose, taking the lead through Erik Nevland only for a Chris Smalling own goal to cancel that out before Mikel Arteta's penalty deep into added time earned Everton victory.

Hodgson claimed that he is "hopeful but not confident" that forward Bobby Zamora will overcome an Achilles injury to feature against Hamburg at Craven Cottage and he refused to make any apologies for his team selection.

"The game on Thursday is a much bigger priority than this one," said Hodgson, who was infuriated by the penalty award.

"We could afford to lose this one but on Thursday we don't feel we can afford to lose because we're so close to a final. The deserved point was stolen from us in injury time and it was sad way to end the game.

"We were taking a bit of a chance, with players that hadn't played much, but I had faith and confidence in them and they repaid that faith and confidence fully."

They also had a significant helping hand from Leighton Baines, who marred an otherwise impressive performance with a blind back-pass that allowed Nevland to lift the ball over goalkeeper Tim Howard.

Everton had already hit a post through Diniyar Bilyaletdinov but failed to bother the Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer until Victor Anichebe came on at half- time.

The striker got on the end of a wonderful cross from Arteta, evading an attempted overhead kick from Yakubu to head in off Smalling.

With Clint Dempsey excelling, there were further opportunities for Fulham, who should have restored their lead when Nevland played Stefano Okaka through, only for the forward to shoot weakly at Howard.

But with 23 seconds of three minutes of stoppage time remaining, Tim Cahill went down under Baird's challenge in the area and Arteta found the corner for his sixth goal in six matches.

It keeps Everton's hopes of a Europa League place alive, although they trail seventh-placed Liverpool by five points with two games remaining.

Arteta's contribution was all the more remarkable as he was suffering from dizziness after two robust first-half challenges. John Pantsil appeared to catch the Spaniard with an elbow before a collision with Kagisho Dikgacoi resulted in him having seven stitches above his eye.

"He feels a bit dizzy and I've told him he's Scottish," David Moyes joked. "He's not great. He needed stitches around his eye but he got a knock on his head before that.

"He kept his nerve and it was a big penalty. It was a really good penalty and kept his composure. We didn't get to the standards we've set in recent weeks but we got the result."

White Noise

David Moyes admits Everton's European chances are 'remote'

Everton manager David Moyes concedes his side's chances of European football next season are "remote" but has credited his players for a remarkable revival.

By Telegraph staff and agencies

Published: 8:57AM BST 26 Apr 2010

At the end of November Everton were languishing in 16th place in the Premier League with just 15 points from 14 games.

Moyes' side had just lost their third successive match, a 2-0 home defeat to bitter rivals Liverpool, and at that stage were staring at a potential relegation battle.

Remarkably, Everton have not lost at home in the league since that day, with Sunday's 2-1 win over Fulham stretching their unbeaten record in front of their own fans to 11 matches, their best run for over a decade.

If they can win their final two games they will equal their points haul of 63 from last season when they finished fifth, clinching a place in the Europa League.

Strangely, 63 points this season might only be good enough for eighth as Liverpool require just a point to guarantee themselves at least seventh, and with it the final European place.

Despite that, Moyes said: "Our chances are now remote, but if you'd said to me in October or November it was remote, I'd have said we'd no chance.

"So I can only pay credit to how well the players have kept going, in particular coming through a difficult February. We've won games and done really well.

"I admit we've found the last couple of home games against West Ham and Fulham more difficult than some others we've had this year, so it's something we need to think about.

"But I'm really pleased with what the players are doing. We might not have reached the standards we've set in recent weeks, but we've got the results."

Against a Fulham side showing nine changes to last Thursday's first leg of their Europa League semi-final in Hamburg, it looked like it was going to be a frustrating day for Everton.

After creating a host of opportunities, they conceded a 36th-minute opener when Leighton Baines' woeful backpass allowed Erik Nevland to take advantage for his fourth goal of the season.

But half-time substitute Victor Anichebe nodded Everton level just five minutes after his introduction, before Mikel Arteta stroked home a penalty with virtually the last kick of the game deep into injury-time.

"We kept going, tried everything to get a goal, threw the kitchen sink at them, and in the end it worked," added Moyes.

Fulham counterpart Roy Hodgson was left devastated by the penalty award for a Chris Baird foul on Tim Cahill, not least as the move that led to the spot-kick was sparked by a dubiously awarded throw-in.

"I thought the penalty decision was unbelievably harsh," said Hodgson. "It's a very sad way to end the game. We didn't deserve it because it was a very good performance from the team.

"To lose it so late in the game to a debatable penalty is a sad outcome for what was otherwise a very good occasion for us.

"I'm extremely depressed with the way a great result from a great performance was stolen from us in injury-time."

White Noise

Everton 2-1 Fulham XI

Filed under: General,Match info — weltmeisterclaude @ 4:15 pm

Encouraging stuff.  The Hamburg game on Thursday is super-important, so today Roy Hodgson took the opportunity to give the backups a run out.  Given that this was EVerton, and Everton away at that, we might reasonably have expected a hiding, but no, we got an enjoyably open 2-1 defeat which was extremely harsh on Fulham; the game could easily have gone either way.

Everton started off like a team in a hurry, with a Cahill shot well saved and a Bilyetdinov volley striking the post.  Fulham weren't getting much of a sniff, and wave upon wave of blue shirted attacks threatened to threaten.  The whites held their collective nerve, and late in the half something strange happened:  we went ahead.

Leighton Baines, England's prospective left back, rolled a careless backpass toward Tim Howard, and began to saunter upfield.  Baines, you see, had not reckoned on the anticipatory skills of Erik Nevland, who was darting goalwards for just this eventuality.  The ball could not have been better and Nevland dinked it past Howard and into the net.  A fine, typical goal.  We will miss him when he leaves in the summer.

The second half was a humdinger.  Everton equalised, fortuitously but not against the run of play, when an Arteta cross was headed goalwards by Anichebe, but flicked off Chris Smalling and trickled into the net with Schwarzer wrongfooted.   Nothing either of them could have done.

David Moyes threw on Louis Saha for Phil Neville, and went for the jugular.  This gave our players more room to operate, and for a time it became the Dempsey and Dikgacoi show, the pair of them strutting through the midfield with authority and threatening to set something up somehow.  The best chance came with a Dempsey pass through the gap to Nevland, who spied Okaka and passed across first time, only for Okaka to side-foot straight at Howard.  It was a harder chance than it looked, Okaka having to take the ball at full-speed with perhaps too many options available, but he should have done better.

He had a decent game.  In the first half, with nothing much on, he saw Dempsey running into the box and scooped a delicious ball over the defence and perfectly into his colleague's path, only for Dempsey's volley to scream into the stands.   And while his all around play can be erratic (it sometimes looks as if he's trying to trap a rugby ball), there is clearly much potential there.  If we are to forgive Chris Smalling his misdemeanors, then we must be similarly sympathetic to Okaka's ascent up the learning curve.   Hopefully we'll keep hold of him after the season.   He could end up anywhere between Emile Heskey and Faustino Asprilla.

An increasingly frenetic finale saw Dempsey narrowly fail to put Fredrik Stoor through (!), and then it all went belly up.  Saha passed the ball into touch, Everton, weirdly, were awarded the throw in, Chris Baird tried to clear it but booted Tim Cahill in the midriff, and Arteta slammed home the winning goal from the penalty spot, all with about 16 seconds left.

White Noise,19764,11065_3268846,00.html

Arteta spot on in late win

Spaniard keeps Toffees in the Hunt

By Mike Barton   Last updated: 25th April 2010   

Man of the match: Victor Anichebe's introduction seemed to spark Everton into life and his driving runs and influence were extremely impressive throughout the second half.

Shot of the match: Mikel Arteta's goal may have been from the spot. But it was coolness personified and well converted to give the Toffees victory.

Save of the match: Mark Schwarzer keeping out Tim Cahill's header shortly after Everton drew level.

Talking points: Is it too late for Everton to beat their bitter rivals into the Europa League places? Or has Arteta's late strike now given the Toffees the impetus to make it? Fulham were very aggrieved over the decision to award Everton a throw-in the build-up to the penalty. Did they have a case?

Everton kept their hopes of beating local rivals Liverpool to a Europa League spot alive with a 2-1 victory over Fulham at Goodison Park.

In a game that looked to be petering out into a draw, with Fulham seemingly weathering Everton's final throw of attacks, Tim Cahill won a penalty in the 93rd minute to give Mikel Arteta the chance to seal all three points for the home side.

The Spaniard did not disappoint, smashing the ball low into the left-hand corner to send Mark Schwarzer the wrong way with what was practically the last kick of the game.

The victory was a welcome present for David Moyes, as he celebrated his 47th birthday with a win that keeps Everton in the hunt for seventh place, but Fulham's woes away from Craven Cottage continued in a game they were leading at half-time thanks to Erik Nevland's cool finish.

With Thursday's second leg of Fulham's semi-final against Hamburg in mind, boss Roy Hodgson made nine changes for this game, coming within seconds of ending a run of 16 successive defeats at Goodison Park.

Although Nevland gave Fulham a 36th minute lead against the run of play, Victor Anichebe hauled his side level five minutes after his arrival as a half-time substitute before Arteta stroked home a face-saving winner deep into injury time.

You can hardly blame Hodgson for making as many changes as he did, with arguably the most high-profile game in the club's history looming.

Hodgson rested eight players - Paul Konchesky, Aaron Hughes, Danny Murphy, Dickson Etuhu, Damien Duff, Zoltan Gera, Brede Hangeland and Simon Davies - with Bobby Zamora nursing an Achilles injury.

For the first 36 minutes of the game they were over-run and barely in the match as Everton created, and wasted, a host of chances.

The first of those came after 30 seconds as Mark Schwarzer, one of only two survivors from Thursday's goalless first leg in Hamburg, smothered a 20-yard snap shot from Tim Cahill, making his 200th appearance for the Toffees in all competitions.

That set the tone, yet remarkably Schwarzer was never called upon again until late in the first half when he stopped a deflected effort from Yakubu on the line.

However, the right-hand post came to his aid in the second minute as Diniyar Bilyaletdinov cracked a left-foot volley against the base after Tony Hibbert had floated over a right-wing cross.

One-way traffic followed with Cahill off target with a free header, Yakubu dragging a shot past the post after an error from defender Chris Smalling, whilst Cahill also drilled another low effort wide.

What would have been an untried Fulham rearguard defended stoutly, putting bodies in the way.

But then nine minutes from the break Fulham scored their first away league goal since a 3-2 defeat at Stoke on January 5, ending a blank seven-game run.

It came courtesy of a howler from Leighton Baines, who played a nonchalant pass to Tim Howard without looking, allowing Nevland to nip in and flick the ball over the advancing American goalkeeper.

Nevland's fourth this season also ended Fulham's goal drought on Merseyside - against both Everton and Liverpool - at nine hours and 14 minutes, with their last in a 4-1 defeat at Goodison in April 2007.

Fulham should have added a second shortly before the break when Stefano Okaka lofted a delightful chip into the area for Clint Dempsey to run onto, but with only Howard to beat, he volleyed over the crossbar.

At half-time boss David Moyes brought on Anichebe for Bilyaletdinov, which proved inspired as the striker levelled five minutes later.

Arteta, nursing a stitched cut over his left eye following an incident at the end of the first period, supplied a dinked cross from the left-hand edge of Fulham's penalty area.

Yakubu attempted a dramatic scissor kick, fortunately just avoiding Anichebe's head as he bravely nodded into the ground from six yards for what proved to be his second goal of the season as it took a slight deflection beyond Schwarzer's outstretched grasp.

Fortune then favoured Fulham as referee Lee Mason failed to spot an Anichebe cross hit Nicky Shorey's left arm in the area on the hour.

Ten minutes later Jonathan Greening's intercept to Tony Hibbert's right-wing cross flashed a yard beyond Schwarzer's right-hand post.

Then within a minute a goal-bound downward header from Louis Saha, on as a 61st-minute substitute for captain Phil Neville, bounced off Dempsey and inches over the bar.

It meant Fulham were still in the game, and they should have stolen victory, only for Okaka to shoot tamely into the welcoming arms of Howard after being played in by Nevland on a 76th minute break.

It was then Everton who had the chance to win it, but a defiant Schwarzer brilliantly saved from Cahill at point-blank range in the 80th minute, prior to a more routine stop from Arteta four minutes from time.

But with a draw on the cards, a Chris Baird foul on Cahill inside the area allowed Arteta to score from the spot with virtually the last kick of the game.

Team Statistics

2 Goals

0 1st Half Goals

7 Shots on Target

7 Shots off Target

3 Blocked Shots

10 Corners

7 Fouls

1 Offsides

0 Yellow Cards

0 Red Cards

86.4 Passing Success

20 Tackles

80 Tackles Success

54.9 Possession

58.7 Territorial Advantage

White Noise

Fulham lose in dramatic fashion 2 - 1 at Everton

by Russ Goldman on Apr 25, 2010 6:16 PM BST

Fulham lose in stoppage time 2 - 1 on a penalty kick. Mikel Arteta scored the penalty to give Everton the victory. Fulham had the lead at the half. Erik Nevland scored in the first half for Fulham. In the second half, in the opening minutes an own goal by Chris Smalling tied the game at 1 - 1. As stated earlier,  very late in stoppage time Everton got their winning goal. There might be some controversy leading up to the final goal of the match. Right before the play that led to the penalty, it looked like Saha might have kicked the ball out of bounds. The assistant indicated that it went off Chris Smalling. This led to a throw in deep in the Fulham half. The play after the throw in saw a header by Saha inside the box go to Cahill. He was swiped by a kick from Chris Baird. A penalty was called and a goal was scored. Fulham lose 2 - 1 at Goodison Park.

Despite the result, Fulham fans should be proud of there team today. There were many changes made to the lineup. There were 9 changes to the starting team. Players like Bjorn Helge Riise, Erik Nevland, Kagisho Digkacoi, John Panstil, Nicky Shorey, Jonathan Greening, Chris Smalling, Stefano Okaka and John Pantsil got a chance to play. To their credit they played hard and gave a huge effort. Even though they did not come away with any points, you could tell the team battled the entire match.     

The half began with some real good pressure from Everton. In the very first minute, Tim Cahill had a great strike from just outside of the box. It is saved by Schwarzer. In the second minute, Bilyaletdinov's strike hits the post. This was a from a great pass from Hibbert.

Fulham followed this up with decent pressure. They forced two corners in succession. This happened in the 8th minute of the match. However, shortly afterwards the flow of the game would go back to the advantage of Everton.

They had a few more chances in the first half. In the 11th minute, a cross from Arteta Leads to a header from Cahill. His header goes wide of the net. in the 21st minute, Chris Smalling loses the ball in the  box. Thankfully for Fulham Yakubu's shot goes wide. In the 23rd minute, a shot by Cahill right outside of the box is wide.

Fulham would start to move slightly forward.  In the 26th minute, a Nevland shot on the left side of the box is blocked by an Everton defender. In the 27th minute a Dikgacoi shot off of play from a corner just goes over the net.

Fulham's chances were not many in the first half. However, they would take advantage of an Everton mistake. In the 35th minute, Baines tries a pass back to Tim Howard. It is intercepted by Erik Nevland. He strikes the ball past Howard. Surprisingly Fulham are up 1 - 0. Fulham actually tried to make it 2- 0. In the 45th minute, an Okaka pass leads to shot by Clint Dempsey. He was right in front of Howard. Unfortunately his shot goes over the net.

There is no question that Everton controlled the play of the game in the first half. It took a mistake by Everton for Fulham to take the lead. Fulham lead at the half 1 - 0.

The second half began with great pressure from Everton. It did not take them long to get the equalizer. In the 49th minute, a ball is deflected off of Chris Smalling and into the net. The play started with a pass from Arteta that goes to Anichebe. Initially it looked like he headed the ball into the net. However, after a review of the play his header was then deflected to Smalling and the ball went into the net. The game was now tied 1 - 1.

Everton would have some great pressure in this second half. Fulham actually got very fortunate starting in the 70th minute. First, Jonathan Greening's header almost goes into his own net. If it did Fulham would have given up 2 own goals.  The very next minute, a Saha header bounces off of Clint Dempsey and just goes wide. This was play off of a corner kick. Fulham were very lucky in both situations not to give up a goal.

Fulham now would have two great chances of there own to score. First, in the 74th minute, Clint Demspey makes a nice run. He runs into the box with the ball. He was defended well by Baines and did not get a shot off. He was led by a nice Erik Nevland pass. Second, Stefano Okaka had the opportunity of the match. In a counter attack,  Fulham were flying down the field. The play was started by a great long pass from Dempsey that went to Eric Nevland. He then passed it to Okaka who probably shot it too quickly. Tim Howard ended up making an easy save.  Okaka was one on one with Howard. He might have rushed his shot.

The action would lead up to the dramatic finish of this match in stoppage time. There would be 3 minutes added to the end of the game. Everton actually had one other great chance to score early in stoppage time . A Louis Saha header  hits the side of the net.

As we were getting to the very end of the match a controversial play happened. It looked like Louis Saha knocked the ball out bounds deep in the Fulham half. The assistant said it went off of Chris Smalling. This led to a throw in. As the play went on Louis Saha headed the ball back towards the net. Chris Baird took a swipe kick and hit Tim Cahill.  The referee called for a penalty kick. Mikel Arteta scored the final goal of the match past Mark Schwarzer . Fulham lost a heart-breaker 2 - 1.

Even though Fulham lost this match the club battled and played hard. They showed great effort today. It was an unfortunate result for the Cottagers.

White Noise

Everton 2 - 1 Fulham

It had been a testing yet positive week for Fulham following their now famous Hamburg road trip and subsequent performance in the Nordbank Arena - a result which put Roy Hodgson's side in an encouraging position ahead of Thursday's UEFA Europa League Semi-Final second-leg.

Roy Hodgson made changes, with only Mark Schwarzer and Chris Baird part of the midweek starting line-up on show at Goodison Park.

The trip to Germany had symbolically captured our epic journey in Europe, one that started on July 30th in Lithuania and has seen the team travel three quarters of the way around the globe. Prior to kick-off, Captain Danny Murphy had urged outsiders to adopt an "understanding" stance on the team selection.

Yet there would be little sympathy from the home side who. unbeaten in their last eight league games, started brightly, with Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov striking the post after just three minutes from Tony Hibbert's deep cross from the right.

A mazy run from Steven Pienaar also threatened to break the early deadlock, with only a last-ditch intervention from Baird breaking the South African international's stride.

The hosts continued to impress with their pass and move football, and a clever break down the right needed a commanding claim from Schwarzer to deny the head of Yakubu. With Mikel Arteta growing in confidence, further chances looked forthcoming.

And one such opportunity fell to Yakubu again, with 20 minutes gone, with the striker pouncing on a mistake from Chris Smalling before dragging his shot from the right of the box wide.

Fulham replied with their first real spell of possession, with an Erik Nevland strike deflected out for a corner, and Kagisho Dikgacoi blazing over from the subsequent corner.

At the other end Phil Neville's low cross from the right flashed across the goalmouth, where the returning John Pantsil had to be alert to shoe a timely clearance to safety, and Yakubu lurking once more.

However, for all the hosts' attacking intent it was Fulham that opened the scoring with nine minutes of the first-half remaining, and it was that man Nevland that proved the difference once more, ghosting on to Leighton Baines' nonchalant back pass and dinking the ball over Tim Howard.

It was a Fulham goal that had been a long time coming. Prior to kick-off it had been eight hours and 38 minutes of league football since they had last scored a goal on Merseyside (against Everton and Liverpool) – when Carlos Bocanegra scored in a 4-1 defeat at Goodison in April 2007.

And the Whites really should have had a second going into the break, when Okaka's wonderfully scooped pass fell into the path of Dempsey who had slipped the previously close attentions of Phil Jagielka. But our Juventus goal hero volleyed over from close range.

Everton certainly had their moments, but in a half of graft and zeal, it was Fulham that had ultimately proved the most effective.

However, that lead would be short lived, with Arteta finding space down the left and chipping an enticing pass into the Fulham box. Substitute Victor Anichebe was waiting, and his downwards header bounced beyond a sprawling Schwarzer and into the bottom left corner with five minutes gone.

With the momentum behind them Everton pushed for an immediate second, with Schwarzer doing well to hold Tim Cahill's header and then diving at the feet of a well-placed Yakubu.

With the Toffees searching for a further breakthrough, the Fulham fans in attendance would have been wary of the introduction of former Cottage favourite Louis Saha on the hour. The talented hitman scored 53 goals in 117 league games for the Whites between 2000 and 2004, but since his departure, has made a habit of scoring against his former club – most recently in Fulham's visit to Goodison last season.

Anichebe accelerated in from the right and drove at Schwarzer, while a Jagielka intervention denied Okaka a decent opening as both sides tussled for a crucial second. Everton went even closer when Jonathan Greening's header almost dropped into his own net, with captain for the day Schwarzer making an expert save, tipping Arteta's resultant in-swinging corner over the ball.

Saha met the following corner, but fortunately for the Whites his glancing header bounced off the unsuspecting head of Dempsey and out to relevant safety.

Dempsey almost converted a chance at the other end moments later racing on to Nevland's perfectly weighted pass, but the impressive Jagielka proved his equal doing just enough to deny the American's advancement.

Okaka had an even better opportunity on 76 minutes, with Nevland the architect once more. With free sight on goal the Italian U21 international strode on to Nevland's pullback, but could only find the arms of Howard when his first-time strike should have perhaps done more.

Inside the final 10 minutes Schwarzer made a fantastic stop to keep out Cahill following a fabulous flowing move, while Pienaar showed his quality at the other end of the pitch, getting his body in the way of Dempsey's powerful strike.

Dempsey fired a free-kick straight at Howard from 30 yards, while from a bit further in, Arteta arrowed his set piece straight at the grateful Fulham wall.

With three minutes of injury time announced the home crowd pressed their team forward, but their cheers of encouragement turned to gasps of despair when Saha headed wide with the goal at his mercy.

But when Cahill went down in the area moments later, the referee pointed to the spot. In a late twist, the composed Arteta stepped up and dispatched a confident finish to the right of Schwarzer to hand Everton's boss a very happy 47th birthday.

It was a disappointing end to a very memorable week for Roy Hodgson however, but with our European dreams firmly intact, his side have the opportunity to bounce back in style come Thursday. 

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Hodgson's Everton Reaction

Sunday 25th April 2010

Fulham FC News

Speaking after Sunday's narrow Barclays Premier League defeat at Goodison Park, Roy Hodgson gave his assessment of the game.

"I thought the penalty decision was unbelievably harsh," said Hodgson.

"We had a similar situation with Clint Dempsey and I didn't make too much of a fuss about it.

"But when that penalty decision goes against you, I wondered why I wasn't more upset about the one we should have had.

"It's a very sad way to end the game. We didn't deserve it because it was a very good performance from the team.

"To lose it so late in the game to a debatable penalty is a sad outcome for what was otherwise a very good occasion for us.

"I'm extremely depressed with the way a great result from a great performance was stolen from us in injury time.

"The changes improved us because the players that played in Hamburg would have found it very hard to produce that level of performance.

"We were taking a bit of a chance with players that hadn't played much, but I had faith and confidence in them and they repaid that faith and confidence fully."

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Hodgson gutted with defeat

Fulham boss bemoans penalty decision

By Mike Barton   Last updated: 25th April 2010   

Roy Hodgson admitted that he was bitterly disappointed to see his Fulham side taste defeat after a 2-1 loss to Everton at Goodison Park.

Mikel Arteta's last minute penalty won the day for the Toffees in a game Fulham seemed to be taking a share of the spoils from after coping with most attacks Everton threw at them.

But a late throw in the lead up to the penalty decision caused controversy after appearing to come off an Everton player before going out of play, leading to Sylvain Distin's long throw in the box and Chris Baird bringing down Tim Cahill for the spot kick.

Hodgson was clearly annoyed by the decision, and made his feelings very clear about how unlucky his side were to lose.

"It's very hard to take," he said.

"It will take me a while to calm down and get over it but that's football I suppose.

"First of all I thought it was our throw in and I don't think it's a penalty it was very harsh to give it for that."

The Fulham boss praised his side's hardworking performance, where Erik Nevland's opening goal gave his side a half time lead before a Chris Smalling own goal restored parity to proceedings.

However he also praised Everton for their fighting spirit and confessed that any side he put out would have found it difficult despite fielding a somewhat weakened team ahead of their Europa League semi final second leg against Hamburg on Thursday.

"We were playing against a good team who are on a remarkable run and I think we were going to find it difficult whatever team we decided to field today," Hodgson added.

"I'm just really gutted that we've lost a very valuable point and a very well deserved one in such a fashion."

With Thursday's encounter at Craven Cottage against the German side deadlocked at 0-0, Hodgson will know that his team will need to score in what will go down as one of the biggest matches in the club's history.

However while the 62-year-old confirmed that he had no fresh injury worries ahead of the fixture, he did concede that key striker Bobby Zamora may face a race against time to be fit.

"We hope everybody will be fit for Thursday but the only major doubt we have was Bobby Zamora. He was the one who certainly wouldn't be able to play under the circumstances today," he said.

"Whether time will allow him to get fit for Thursday we'll have to wait and see but everyone else was ok."

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From my seat: Fulham (H)

By Ken Buckley :  25/04/2010 :   Comments (4) :

Another three points that give us the faintest of chances to join the Euro train from a game that at times resembled a training match with the exciting bits being reserved for the start and finish of the second half — albeit excitement in the scoring of two home goals to give us the points that paled into insignificance regarding the rumours sweeping Goodison regarding a investor/buyout of the club that meets the Chairman's right and proper person criteria... plus the insignificant one regarding Gerrard, his missus, a 15-year-old girl, and a Derby County player. Just as well these rumours were circulating as it masked a day out in brilliant sunshine interrupted by the outbreak of a truly unmemorable game.

Fulham made nine changes and understandably so in light of their progression in Europe and a look at our bench made me realize just how far we are behind Fulham in the squad size stakes that makes so much difference in a successful season on the important fronts.(Fulham?).

The Blues started brightly and no sooner had the game started Cahill had a shot smothered smartly by Schwarzer, a pity it didn't go in as it was Cahill's 200th appearance for us. Just two minutes later Bilyaletdinov smashed one against the post with keeper beaten after a superb Hibbert run and cross.

The half continued with the Blues in control and it seemed a matter of time before we punctured the Fulham reserves who were no more than getting bodies behind the ball and defending well as time after time we saw good approach play particularly down the right with Hibbert contributing well only for a lack-lustre final third approach to be our downfall. We passed when we should have shot and shot when we should have passed.

Our effort in that final third was abysmal and the crowd were getting ever restless. Surely a goal would come and it did on the 36th minute mark when a cute passing movement at the back saw Baines put in a pass, without thought or looking, toward Howard that merely fed Nevland who gleefully and adroitly chipped over Howard leaving the hapless Baines with his head in his hands and a wag near me to yell 'Baines for England' — the irony being he was a Scotsman.

This really deflated both players and fans and in the period to half-time we were lucky not to go further behind when a chip into the box saw Dempsey sky over with only Howard to beat. Arteta was felled and left the field for what looked like a stitching job.

Half-time, and the chat was not so much of what changes the manager might make but more of an acceptance that, no matter the outcome, the season was just being played out and the hope both rumours were true. (How sad...)

The manager did make a change for the second half, introducing Big Vic for Bilyaletdinov — a move I applauded as I am still bewildered as to what exactly the Russian brings to the team or indeed what his role is.

Big Vic isn't the most accomplished of players but he has a strength and willingness to run at people and, after just four minutes of the second half starting, he found himself in the box as Arteta jinked one in which the Yak had an extravagant bicycle kick at that almost beheaded Big Vic as he headed into goal despite desperate efforts from Schwarzer.

Cahill had a power shot parried by the keeper as we dominated. On the hour mark, a great shout from both players and fans for a penalty when Big Vic crossed and it was handled by Shorey but the Ref Mr Mason was as indulgent has he had been about any contentious decision all match.

Hibbert once again got forward down the right and his flashed cross hit a defender and whistled just wide of the post. Neville then came off (must have had a knock) and Saha came on and within minutes missed a sitter when he headed over off a defender when very well placed.

We then almost paid a heavy price as, from our attack, Fulham broke quickly and the nippy Nevland put in Okaka with only Howard to beat but fortunately produced no more than a back-pass to the keeper. A big let off.

Ten minutes from the end, another move involving the impressive Hibbert saw Cahill blast one from close range that Schwarzer somehow parried away, it really was point blank range. With time running out Arteta tried his luck but only produced a routine gather from the keeper.

With the board showing 4 mins of injury time, many were leaving the ground but the Blues kept attacking and yet another move down the right saw a ball into the box in the very last minute, Cahill burst forward and seemed to be bundled to the ground, the Ref didn't bottle this one as it seemed so blatant and immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped Arteta, sent the keeper the wrong way and hey-ho three points.

The Ref blew his whistle for the restart then immediately blew again for time up – it was that close.

Overall, not a game to write home about but we did play the joined-up stuff up to that 18-yd box then it was less than convincing as we just don't seem to have that all important urgency and nous where it matters. With proven strikers like Yak and Saha, it is a bit disappointing to be looking to Cahill to nip in all the time.

MotM was difficult today as variously quite a few shone then faded throughout the game so I give mine to Hibbert, who I thought played his position better over 98 mins than anyone else played theirs.

Stoke next and the away end is once again sold out so I hope the players hang on to just the faintest hope of securing the European entry slot of 7th and give us a performance to match. It's improbable but not impossible in footy world and what an end to the season usurping our city cousins would be.

With prayer beads in hand, I dream...

White Noise

Everton 2 Fulham 1: Greg O'Keeffe's verdict on Everton's late triumph over the Cottagers

Apr 26 2010 by Greg O'Keeffe, Liverpool Echo

THE candles on the cake were blown out, the cork was forced back into the champagne bottle, and any celebrations for David Moyes' 47th birthday yesterday were firmly on hold.

But then, just when it seemed like a terse Sunday night was in store for the Moyes family, Mikel Arteta delivered a late present which put a smile back on the birthday boy's face.

The Spaniard's ice-cool conversion of a penalty awarded with 23 seconds of injury time left, just about keeps Everton's dreams of European football next season alive.

Liverpool's victory over Burnley means Europa League qualification is still the longest of long shots for the Toffees.

The Reds appear unlikely to suffer the two defeats necessary for Everton to overtake them into seventh place.

But at least Moyes' men now go into the final two games of the season with something to play for.

Just as against Blackburn, the Toffees started impressively, suffered a shaky slump which appeared to be fatal and then snatched all three points by refusing to abandon their belief as the clock ticked down.

Everton had signalled their intent within seconds, as Tim Cahill fired a low effort at Mark Schwarzer. Then Diniyar Bilyaletdinov volleyed a first-time Tony Hibbert cross against the post.

Unsurprisingly, given the relative weakness of Fulham's starting side, Everton were enjoying all the early possession.

Predictably, Roy Hodgson made nine changes from the team which drew in the Europa League semi-final last week, including eye-brow raisers like Kagisho Dikgacoi, try saying that after half a shandy, and John Arne Riise's brother, Bjorn Helge Riise.

It began to have the hallmarks of a leisurely stroll in the sunshine. Steven Pienaar looked as if contract woes were the last thing on his mind, when he delightfully jinked past a trail of Fulham defenders before falling over in the area.

Everton's passing was crisp and purposeful.

Both full-backs were joining in effectively, and a goal constantly seemed moments away.

But as those moments continued to elapse, Goodison became agitated.

Fulham's ambitions seemed to amount to simply not being steam-rollered,

as the home fans sensed a cricket score.

So, when all Everton's possession went unrewarded, the frustration factor began to rattle around the ground.

Surely a goal was on the horizon? It was, and with the half in its closing stages, somehow it went to Fulham.

Leighton Baines has had more assists than any other defender in the Premier League, but this was one he will not recall fondly.

The usually immaculate left-back dallied on the ball in the area under only a modicum of pressure, and chose to slip a back pass to Tim Howard.

Unfortunately he failed to spot the lurking Erik Nevland who gratefully latched onto the poorly weighted pass to slot home.

Right on cue, the sunshine made way for grey clouds over Goodison.

It was one of only two half chances Fulham had created

Only contrary Everton could go a goal behind in a game like this, when everything so compellingly pointed to a home win.

Fulham have never won at Goodison Park in the league, and the Blues have taken all three points from their last 16 meetings.

Yet, it could have been worse. Stefano Okaka's clever chip played in Clint Dempsey just before the break, and the American volleyed a decent opening high into the Park End.

It would be a cold-hearted individual who didn't feel some sympathy for Everton's players as they trudged into the tunnel.

They were not exactly set for high fives and plaudits.

Bilyaletdinov didn't make it back out, replaced on the right flank by Victor Anichebe.

And for the second game running, Moyes had made a change which reaped almost instant rewards.

Roared on by a home support indignant at being behind to such a soft goal, Arteta and Pienaar linked up deftly, and the Spaniard's cross to the far post found Anichebe's head, and the ball bobbled past Schwarzer.

It was Anichebe's first league goal at Goodison since 2007, and hardly the sumptuous strike which Everton's bright opening suggested, but enough to hand them back the momentum.

Tim Cahill was denied by a point-blank Schwarzer stop moments after.

Soon Louis Saha appeared on the sidelines. But just when it seemed as if Yakubu's afternoon was over, Phil Neville instead made way for the French striker, as the Blues boss went for the kill.

Fulham were playing for the point, defending stubbornly and relying on the solidity of Mark Schwarzer.

Their only real attacking threat Nevland was replaced, and yet they still found the occasional opening as the Blues pushed forward.

Okaka squandered a clear opportunity to give his side the lead. Then when Schwarzer denied his compatriot Cahill again, after fine work by Yakubu, the three points which Everton needed so badly began to seem beyond them.

That feeling of dread was only reinforced when Saha nodded a gilt-edged chance wide from a deep Baines cross.

But then Chris Baird's clumsy block on Tim Cahill saw Phil Dowd point to the spot.

Step forward Mikel Arteta, with the birthday gift for his boss that money can't buy.

White Noise

Fulham's New Income Stream?

What mystery is this? Has Mr. Al Fayed, eager to find a new source of revenue, begun drilling for oil in the sedimentary rock deep beneath the London clay?

Are barrels of 'Egyptian Crude' about to become a hot commodity on the international financial markets?

Whatever the explanation, this curious rig has recently appeared a few metres west of Putney Bridge and, seemingly, directly on the boundary between boroughs.

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Hodgson fears Zamora absence

Europa League semi-finalists have fingers crossed over forward

Last updated: 26th April 2010   

Fulham manager Roy Hodgson is not confident that star striker Bobby Zamora will be fit for Thursday's Europa League semi-final second leg against Hamburg.

The Premier League side are preparing to welcome their opponents to London after a 0-0 first-leg draw in Germany last week.

England World Cup hopeful Zamora started that match, but limped off early in the second half after aggravating his troublesome Achilles problem.

Hodgson hopes that his 19-goal forward, who has said he is desperate to play, will be available, however, the Fulham boss admits it is touch and go after he sat out Sunday's league defeat at Everton.

"I'm not confident Bobby will be ready for Thursday," said Hodgson in the Daily Mirror.

"I am hopeful, but that is all. He is having treatment and we will have to keep our fingers crossed."

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Hamburg coach under fire ahead of Fulham tie

By Soccernet staff

April 26, 2010

A 5-1 defeat by Hoffenheim has placed Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia under intense pressure just days before the club's Europa League semi-final second leg against Fulham, although he is adamant he still retains the support of his players.

Bruno Labbadia was under scrutiny after defeat to Hoffenheim

A heavy defeat leaves Hamburg in seventh place in the Bundesliga so Thursday's fixture at Craven Cottage is key to salvaging something from their season, with the Europa League final due to take place in their home stadium.

Labbadia will hold talks with the club's hierarchy prior to the Fulham tie, which remains delicately poised following a 0-0 draw in Germany, and chairman Bernd Hoffmann appears reluctant to fully back his coach.

"We are going to speak together with the coach and ensure we do what is right for Thursday," Hoffmann said. "That is our last chance to leave a route into Europe next season open. There is not really much more that I can add to that."

Labbadia, appointed as Martin Jol's replacement last summer when deciding to leave Bayer Leverkusen, says he is confident he has not lost the dressing room.

"If a team were to play against their coach, then they would also be playing against themselves," Labbadia said. "That would make no sense."

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Mikel Arteta makes Roy Hodgson and Fulham pay for rotation policy

Everton 2 Fulham 1

Tom Dart

Mikel Arteta left Goodison Park with seven stitches and Fulham departed feeling stitched up by the officials.

With Thursday's Europa League semi-final, second leg against Hamburg in mind, Roy Hodgson made nine changes, but while the names were different, the result was familiar. Fulham have gathered ten points on their travels this season, the same as Portsmouth, the only team they have beaten away in the Barclays Premier League.

Entering the game, David Moyes's side were on a run of ten home league fixtures without defeat; Fulham had last scored away in the league on January 5. Everton had won their past 16 league games at Goodison Park against yesterday's opponents, who had not found the net on Merseyside for more than three years.

They put that right after 36 minutes. Leighton Baines's crass back-pass was intercepted by Erik Nevland, who finished low past Tim Howard. The lead lasted until the 49th minute when a soft header from Victor Anichebe, a substitute, went in after taking a significant deflection off Chris Smalling. A disputed penalty by Arteta four minutes into injury time settled the contest. The Basque's aim was impeccable even though he was woozy after sustaining a head wound in a first-half collision with Kagisho Dikgacoi.

Hodgson felt that a throw-in was wrongly awarded to Everton in the build-up and disagreed with the penalty, although it did appear that Chris Baird's leg made contact with Tim Cahill's midriff as the pair chased a loose ball.

Hodgson rotated like a centrifuge set to maximum spin. "The changes improved us because players who travelled to Hamburg would have found it hard to reproduce that level of performance," he said. "This was one we could afford to lose." One change was forced by Bobby Zamora's Achilles tendon injury. "I'm not confident he will be ready for Thursday," Hodgson said.

While Fulham wait on their key striker, Everton's Glaswegian manager, on his 47th birthday, was grateful for Arteta's powers of recovery. "He feels a bit dizzy," Moyes said. "I've told him he's Scottish."

Everton (4-4-1-1): T Howard 6 — A Hibbert 6, P Jagielka 6, S Distin 6, L Baines 5 — S Pienaar 5, P Neville 5 (sub: L Saha, 61min 5), M Arteta 6, D Bilyaletdinov 5 (sub: V Anichebe, 46 5) — T Cahill 6 — Yakubu Ayegbeni 5 (sub: J Baxter, 87). Substitutes not used: I Turner, J Yobo, P Senderos, J Wallace. Next: Stoke City (a).

Fulham (4-4-2): M Schwarzer 8 — J Paintsil 6, C Baird 7, C Smalling 6, N Shorey 7 — B H Riise 7, K Dikgacoi 6, J Greening 6, C Dempsey 5 — S Okaka 5 (sub: F Stoor, 89), E Nevland 6 (sub: D Elm, 78). Substitutes not used: P Zuberbühler, S Kelly, A Teymourian, C Buchtmann, M Briggs. Booked: Paintsil. Next: West Ham United (h).

Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 35,578.

White Noise

European dream still alive after Everton's late escape

Everton 2 Fulham 1

By Tim Rich

Monday, 26 April 2010

It was David Moyes's 47th birthday and, when it comes to presents, most football men would settle for a last-minute penalty.

Not since 1959 had Fulham earned so much as a point at Goodison and they were 23 seconds away from achieving another when Chris Baird's extended leg thudded into Tim Cahill's chest. Mikel Arteta, his eyebrow laced with seven stitches and his brain still pounding from a first-half clash of heads, converted the spot-kick.

The man from the club's official website who had written that Everton's faint hopes of overtaking Liverpool to qualify for the Europa League were now "extinguished" was forced, like the rest of us, to revise his judgement. It is just possible there will be European football here next season, but it is not something Moyes dwells on.

Roy Hodgson, who had made nine changes to the Fulham side that had travelled to Germany by coach and fought Hamburg to a goalless stalemate, was angry and deflated.

"I thought it was unbelievably harsh and I thought the move began with what should have been our throw-in," he said. "It is very difficult for me to be anything other than depressed when a great performance is taken from me in the 95th minute." The Fulham manager added that he was not confident that Bobby Zamora would be fit for the second leg of their Europa League semi-final.

Mark Schwarzer, most assuredly will and the Fulham keeper's heroics carried on seamlessly from where he had finished in the Nordbank Arena. Perhaps the best of his saves was the finish to a thrilling Everton move, in which Louis Saha's back-flick was played on by Yakubu to Cahill, only for the Australian midfielder to be denied by his countryamn at the near post.

At the interval, Moyes had replaced Diniyar Bilyaletdinov with Victor Anichebe and four minutes later the Nigerian's soft header bounced twice and sneaked into the very corner of Schwarzer's net. It was judged by some to have been an own-goal, although this would have been overly harsh on Chris Smalling, who may have been participating in a shadow side but demonstrated why Sir Alex Ferguson thought him worth bringing to Manchester United next season.

Nursing an outfit whose season began in July in Vilnius and facing an improbable European semi-final on Thursday, Hodgson made extensive changes but Fulham nonetheless performed with verve and discipline. They had, however, not scored in the league away from Craven Cottage since January and required a dreadful back-pass from Leighton Baines to break through. As Baines's face wore the look of someone who has just realised he had forgotten to pick the kids up from nursery, Erik Nevland tucked the ball home and ran over to celebrate with Fulham's fans – all 142 of them.

Everton (4-5-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Pienaar, Neville (Saha, 60), Cahill, Arteta, Bilyaletdinov (Anichebe, ht); Yakubu (Baxter, 87) Substitutes not used: Turner (gk), Yobo, Senderos, Wallace.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil, Baird, Smalling, Shorey; Riise, Greening, Dikgacoi, Dempsey; Okaka (Stoor, 88), Nevland (Elm, 78). Substitutes not used: Zuberbuhler (gk), Kelly, Adranik, Buchtmann, Briggs.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Fulham Pantsil.

Man of the Match: Schwarzer.

Attendance: 35,578.

White Noise

Everton 2 Fulham 1

From PHIL THOMAS at Goodison Park

Published: 25 Apr 2010

AS David Moyes celebrated his 47th birthday he never expected his most welcome gift would come from the officials.

OK, it may not have been accompanied by a card or tied up and wrapped in a bow.

But 25 seconds from the end of added time, ref Lee Mason pointed to the spot, up stepped Mikel Arteta and suddenly that European dream lived on for a week longer.

Fulham chief Roy Hodgson may have disagreed, but there was no doubting Chris Baird had bundled Tim Cahill to the ground - and Arteta's penalty was despatched clinically into the corner.

Hodgson did have a point in feeling his side should have been given a throw-in in the build-up.

But complaining about the spot-kick itself? Sorry Roy, you are wrong on that one.

Yet for so long it seemed the only present on show was going to be the gift-wrapped 36th-minute goal which Leighton Baines teed up for the visitors. Baines - in front of England assistant Franco Baldini to boot - never so much as glanced backwards as he slid a pass to Tim Howard.

Erik Nevland was in so much space he could have watched the EastEnders omnibus before dinking his shot over the Everton keeper.

Even the travelling Fulham fans - all 142 of them - looked stunned.

The Cottagers simply do not score on Merseyside. Their last was from Carlos Bocanegra in a 4-1 defeat at Goodison three years ago.

Nevland's neat finish was the first time in an astonishing 670 minutes - since a last-minute goal at Stoke on January 5 - they have scored away in the league.

And on the stroke of half-time they could have doubled their lead.

Stefano Okaka, one of NINE changes to the side which put one foot in the Europa League final in Hamburg last Thursday, lofted a superb ball over the top but Clint Dempsey's volley flew over. Up to the break Everton's only serious effort came from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's volley which rattled the woodwork.

After half-time it was a different story.

The Blues clawed their way level on 50 minutes after Bjorn Helge Riise - brother of former Liverpool hero John Arne - coughed up possession carelessly.

Arteta stood up the cross and sub Victor Anichebe got ahead of Chris Smalling to nod down and see his header bounce almost apologetically into the corner.

From then on it was virtually one-way traffic. Cahill almost celebrated his 200th start with a goal and Jonathan Greening nearly found his own net with a looping header.

Then referee Mason awarded Everton the throw-in after the ball bounced out off Louis Saha's knee.
And what a crucial decision it proved to be. For when Saha's flick bounced for Cahill, Baird bundled him over and Arteta did the rest.

At least Fulham did not suffer quite like Hamburg, who visit Craven Cottage in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday with the sides locked at 0-0.

The Germans crashed to a 5-1 Bundesliga defeat against Hoffenheim yesterday and had Tolgay Arslan sent off late on.


EVERTON: Howard 7, Hibbert 6, Jagielka 7, Distin 6, Baines 5, Bilyaletdinov 4 (Anichebe 7), Neville 7 (Saha 6), Arteta 8, Pienaar 7, Cahill 7, Yakubu 6 (Baxter 6). Subs not used: Turner, Yobo, Senderos, Wallace.

FULHAM: Schwarzer 7, Pantsil 7, Smalling 6, Baird 6, Shorey 6, Dempsey 7, Dikgacoi 7, Greening 6, Riise 6, Okaka 6 (Stoor 6), Nevland 7 (Elm 6). Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Kelly, Teymourian, Briggs, Buchtmann. Booked: Pantsil.

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