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v Wolfsburg

Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05



Goodison Park | 9th March 2011 20:00

Everton v Birmingham

John Heitinga's first goal in an Everton shirt will live long in the memory. The game in which it helped the Toffees earn a point, however, will not.

David Moyes' men were looking for their third consecutive Premier League victory to maintain their steady progression up the Premier League table.

Instead, they had to settle for a share of the spoils against a resolute but unadventurous Birmingham City side that arrived on Merseyside keen to move out of the top flight's bottom three.

And, to add significantly to the frustration of players and fans alike, Everton lost the services of Mikel Arteta after just seven minutes with what looked like a serious hamstring injury.

ArtetaArteta limps off

The full extent of the Spaniard's misfortune is not yet known. The disappointment at not taking three points from this match, however, is all too clear.

The home side needed Heitinga's delightful 35th minute goal to take a point from the game, equalising Jean Beausejour's 17th minute header that had come against the run of play.

Indeed, all of Birmingham's rare forays forward were against the run of play.

But guile and organisation - coupled with a goalkeeper on top form - ensured Alex McLeish's Carling Cup winners held on for their point.

As early as the third minute, when Louis Saha was presented with a golden opportunity only for the ball to get caught under his feet, it seemed a matter of if and not when Everton would take a firm grip on proceedings and not let go.

However, a stunning Tim Howard stop low to his left to deny Cameron Jerome minutes later illustrated Birmingham did pose a threat.

Then came Arteta's departure. He pulled up holding his hamstring as he raced with Seb Larsson and was immediately withdrawn, replaced by Seamus Coleman.

BirminghamDistin gets a tackle in

Birmingham were also forced into a change, with David Murphy coming on for David Bentley.

Despite the scale of the setback for the home side, they responded with a string of good chances, with Ben Foster forced into action - denying Jermaine Beckford and Leon Osman twice.

But it was Birmingham who struck first in what was an eventful opening 20 minutes. Against the run of play Beausejour headed home a Jordon Mutch header from close range.

What followed was a more subdued period of play - until a delightful lobbed pass from Coleman in the 32nd minute bypassed the Birmingham defence. But as the ball dropped over his should Beckford was unable to connect with his attempted left-foot volley, giving the visitors the opportunity to mop up.

And then, with 10 minutes to go before the interval, Dutch international John Heitinga stepped up to produce a tantalising right-footed effort from the edge of the box. He capitalised on a loose ball following an Everton corner to send a perfectly placed effort into the top corner of Foster's net.

With the home side and home fans alike finding new life and gusto, the home side pushed Birmingham back as half-time approached, with Rodwell and Coleman both forcing Foster into smart stops.

BirminghamHeitinga celebrates his excellent strike

Everton started the second period in the same vein. Coleman fired wide, Saha followed suit with two promising chances and Beckford fired at Foster as the home side dominated. But the goal their dominance deserved was proving elusive - a common story in home games at Goodison this term.

As the contest entered its final third Osman sent a teasing effort goalwards that Foster, who was enjoying an impressive game, finger-tipped over the bar.

With time running out, David Moyes introduced Victor Anichebe in place of Beckford as the Toffees' efforts to unlock the resolute Birmingham backline became increasingly frenzied.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov entered the fray in place of Heitinga as Everton went all out. But further chances didn't materialise. And the contest ended in a frustrating stalemate.



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