Everton v Malaga
Everton have concluded their 2009 pre-season campaign with a 2-1 win over Malaga at Goodison Park.
First-half goals from Louis Saha and Leon Osman ultimately secured the Blues a much-needed victory, before JJ Luque's excellent 46th-minute strike ensured the Spaniards made a game of it.
The Blues' first match back on home turf saw the return of Joleon Lescott and Steven Pienaar to the side, which provided the lively Everton crowd with a highly entertaining Friday night performance.
Lescott was joined in central defence by Phil Neville, with Jack Rodwell reverting to a midfield role.
The Blues' first notable chance game fifteen minutes into the clash as a crafty ball from Marouane Fellaini sent Pienaar towards the byline. The South African hooked the ball back into the box to provide a chance from Osman, but the midfielder smashed wide of the far post from six yards out.
A minute later Everton took the lead as Saha tapped in after keeper Munua had savedTim Cahill's powerful header from Leighton Baines' cross.
Everton fought hard to double their advantage and were rewarded for their efforts 20 minutes in. Pienaar again made his presence known down the left flank - his nifty footwork leading him through the Spanish defence and allowing him to play in to Osman who nudged the ball out of his feet before guiding it home with his right foot to put the Blues two-up.
A free-kick from Malaga's Luque on 34 minutes gave the visitors their first realistic chance - setting up Nabil Baha for a strike, but Cahill's head saw it safely over the back line. The resulting corner posed a second threat but Luque eventually struck his long-range effort narrowly over.
Pienaar was quick to respond at the other end - his solid drive looked goal-bound until Munua's palm prevented the South African making it three. The Blues continued to look extremely comfortable back on home soil and deservedly took their two-goal advantage into the break.
Having made two substitutions at the break, Malaga wasted no time in trying to reduce the deficit and did so in remarkable fashion just seconds in to the second period. The visitors were handed a free-kick from 20-yards out and Luque stepped up. His perfect strike flew into the top left hand corner of the net, stunning Tim Howard who could only watch it travel past his reaching hand.
A fantastic combination involving Rodwell and Fellaini on the hour mark lead to Saha playing in the Belgian for a strike. He turned and fired on goal but his effort rattled off the inside of the post. The rebound them made its way to Rodwell who shot from 20 yards out, only to be denied by the Malaga stopper.
Fellaini soon made way for teenager Dan Gosling to make his first appearance for the Club since the Blues' opening pre-season fixture against Bury and then Pienaar made way for Jose Baxter with twenty minutes remaining.
And after a batch of substitutions by the Spanish side, David Moyes' sent on James Vaughan to replace Saha upfront for the final 15 minutes of the tie, with James Wallace stepping-in for Cahill with three minutes on the clock.
There were no further chances though and Everton secured a pleasing victory on the eve of the season.
Indeed, the Blues will take great comfort from a promising display which banished the demons of Tuesday's disappointing defeat to Blackpool, as they now turn their attention to the visit of Arsenal in eight days' time.