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Ewood Park | 17th April 2010 15:00

Blackburn Rovers v Everton

Tim Cahill notched a dramatic last-minute winner as substitute Yakubu inspired Everton to victory in a five-goal thriller at Ewood Park.

At the end of a week in which most of the country has been left grounded by volcanic ash, a dark cloud appeared to be forming over Everton's hopes of travelling into Europe next season after the hosts twice hit wondergoals to come from behind.

But having notched Everton's second just moments after emerging from the bench, it was Yakubu who turned his marker to lay on a simple but potentially crucial clincher for Cahill in the dying seconds.

Moyes was without John Heitinga after the Dutchman failed to recover from an ankle injury picked up at Villa Park in midweek. With Leon Osman and Jack Rodwell also unavailable, Tony Hibbert returned at right back with captain Phil Neville pushing into midfield. The only other change saw Louis Saha replace Yakubu in attack.

It took just three minutes for Arteta to once again demonstrate his importance to the Everton cause.

Mikel Arteta scores from the penalty spot at Ewood ParkMikel Arteta scores from the penalty spot at Ewood Park

Taking down a raking cross from Leighton Baines at the back post, the Spaniard shifted on to his left foot, only to be felled by a clumsy lunge from Ryan Nelsen. The fit-again midfielder picked himself up to take the spot-kick and gave Paul Robinson no chance, coolly sending the former England No 1 the wrong way. 

Arteta let fly again soon after with an ambitious 35-yard free-kick, but this time the ball bobbled along the ground, making it easy for the Blackburn keeper. For 20 minutes though Everton were electric, moving the ball about with awe-inspiring class.

Nikola Kalinic issued Blackburn's first real response, attempting to hook in following a goalmouth scramble. The Croatian was to be denied however as Cahill - so often the man on the spot at the other end - was there to clear off the line.

An already entertaining encounter, flared up temporarily on 18 minutes when Arteta reacted to being tripped by Morten Gamst Pedersen. The Everton man appeared to poke his protagonist in the eye and was perhaps fortunate that the card he received was only a yellow.

When play resumed, Steven Pienaar narrowly failed to connect with a Diniyar Bilyaletdinov cross when, six-yards out, he would surely have made doubled the advantage.

In the build-up to this clash, Sam Allardyce revealed he had instructed his side to treat Everton like a top-four side and there was no indictation that Rovers were going to make this easy.

In fact, the remainder of the opening period went mostly in favour of the hosts, with Tim Howard having to call on the kind of athleticism he displayed at Villa Park to turn away Pedersen's curling effort direct from a corner.

Louis Saha and Rovers' Phil JonesLouis Saha and Rovers' Phil Jones

Neville then blocked a shot from Martin Olsson and Keith Andrews forced another save from Howard from the edge of the box.

But Blackburn's attacking endeavours were leaving gaps at the back and Everton may have done more with a quick breakaway in the dying moments of the half had Bilyaletdinov's attempt to pick out Pienaar not been so easily intercepted by Robinson.

The Blues were quickly up to speed after the break but the first clear chance of the half left Cahill thumping the turf in frustration; from six-yards out the Australian's usually so reliable head could only head Hibbert's centre over the crossbar.

Had the next gone in, it would have been a Goal of the Season contender. Leighton Baines doesn't get many but, latching on to a loose ball 25 yards out, he thundered a first-time shot against Robinson's right-hand upright, rattling the entire goal frame.

Unfortunately for the England left back, Nzonzi can shoot too, and the Frenchman's 25-yarder which flew in to Howard's left may well prove food for thought for the Match of the Day judging panel in four weeks time.

Moyes' response was to throw on Yakubu for Hibbert. On entering the pitch the Nigerian jogged towards the penalty area, met Victor Anichebe's flick on and diverted the ball past Robinson with his head. He had barely been on the pitch 10 seconds!

Tim Cahill and Michel SalgadoTim Cahill battles with Michel Salgado

But this was a game full of twists and turns and Everton's joy was once more short lived. Again it took a piece of brilliance to beat Howard though, Roberts - a substitute himself - allowing the ball to drop over his shoulder on the edge of the box before lashing home low into the bottom corner.

Thankfully, the last twist unravelled our way. And it was that man Cahill, right on the spot, as always, to score what could prove the most important tap-in of the season.

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