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Saturday 30 August K.O. 17:30

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Goodison Park | 20th December 2009 15:00

Everton v Birmingham

The final game before Christmas and Everton came out looking to put on a cracker of a performance - but ended up feeling frustrated.

David Moyes made 10 changes to the young side he fielded against BATE Borisov with Tim Cahill returning from suspension to wear the captain's armband.

On a frosty afternoon the Goodison crowd were warmed up by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's opening goal in the fifth minute.

The Russian's left-footed shot blasted into the bottom right of the goal to give the Blues an early lead and raise hopes of a vital home victory.

But Everton were made to pay for failing to take their chances, Christian Benitez's cross finding Sebastien Larsson, whose strike levelled the game against the run of play on 22 minutes.

Bilyaletdinov's opener coming courtesy of Louis Saha who picked out the midfielder unmarked in the centre of the penalty area, allowing him to thrash past goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Diniyar BilyaletdinovDiniyar Bilyaletdinov celebrates his opener

Everton turned up the heat to keep the pressure on the visitors and should have doubled the lead four minutes later.

Saha cooly found the back of the net only to be ruled offside by the linesman much to the annoyance of the Blues dug out.

What followed though was another period of Everton dominance and chances to kill the game off. One of the best saw Bilyaletdinov provide for Cahill but the Australian's close-range header was saved by Hart.

Soon after Steven Pienaar charged through the centre of the pitch on the counter attack, a run which resulted in Cahill's shot scuffing off the top of the crossbar.

After 15 minutes Pienaar himself had a chance to put his name on the scoresheet with an effort across the goalmouth. Hart though reacted quickly and managed to make the catch. 

As the snow began to fall on Goodison the game became scrappy and the two sides trudged in for the interval one apiece.

The second half started much as the first, with the Blues coming out fighting. Leighton Baines' cross from wide out on the left into the box saw Cahill throw himself at the ball but his diving header went just wide of Hart's right-hand post.

This was quickly followed by Saha's right-footed effort 25 yards out which also missed the target.

Sustained pressure continued but Everton couldn't break down the Birmingham defence.

Tim CahillTim Cahill throws himself

Moyes opted to make a change with 19 minutes to go, taking off the goalscorer and replacing him with Yakubu. Some good team play followed but Everton failed to capitalise on their possession.

A free-kick found Saha in the box but his header drifted wide - as did another headed effort of his five minutes from time.

The French striker then had a final chance to secure three points in injury time but blazed over.

So Everton had to settle for the point as Birmingham stretched their unbeaten run in the Premier League to eight games.

James Vaughan came off the bench in the closing minutes following his recovery from the knee injury which saw his loan spell at Derby County cut short.

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