Everton v Chelsea
Everton will be in tomorrow's draw for the FA Cup fifth round - but so will Chelsea after this thrilling draw at Goodison Park.
The Toffees looked to have recorded a famous victory over their London rivals when Louis Saha headed home in the 62nd minute. But despite deserving their lead and looking the most likely side to score the second of the game, the visitors turned to the quick-feet of substitute Salomon Kalou for an unexpected equaliser with 15 minutes left on the clock.
And try as they might, the men from Goodison Park couldn't find the killer blow to earn the win their merits deserved.
It was an enthralling Cup tie. There was very little to pick between the sides - although if it had gone to a judges' count, the home team would surely have won on points. But the knock-out blow just proved too elusive for David Moyes' men - and the sides must face-off again in February.
Moyes made three changes from the side that struggled to a draw against West Ham, bringing in Jack Rodwell for the injured Victor Anichebe, Louis Saha in for Jermaine Beckford and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov for Leon Osman.
The team, as they have done so often this term against the Premier League's heavyweights, proved they have the guts and technical credentials to stand toe-to-toe.
Marouane Fellaini in particular bossed proceedings in the opening 45 minutes. And as the game progressed, youngsters Jack Rodwell and Seamus Coleman increased their influence on a match which ebbed and flowed after an opening 20 minutes in which the sides were weighing each other up.
Everton had the more chances - and, indeed, the better chances. But a series of smart saves from Petr Cech and some stout defending from some of the league's most wily operators meant it was always going to be tough to chisel out an advantage.
But, having done just that, the huge frustration is that Everton were undone once - and must now overcome the tough trip to Stamford Bridge if they are to extend their FA Cup adventure into the last 16.
During that cagey opening 20 minutes Everton enjoyed the greater share of possession - but it wasn't until the 14th minute that they produced an effort to reflect their intent. Petr Cech easily gathered Diniyar Bilyaltedinov's close-range effort.
At the other end, Michael Essien fired over following the first corner of the contest. A second corner shortly produced a better effort, John Terry flashing a header over the bar as the visitors increased their threat.
A subdued crowd was eventually brought to life 20 minutes before the break. Marouane Fellaini brilliantly harried and hassled first Essien and then Terry before winning the ball - allowing Mikel Arteta to feed Jack Rodwell.
The midfielder charged into the area and seemed set for a replica of his goal against Manchester United in the famous 3-1 triumph - but this time his effort was too close to the goalkeeper.
Moments later Cech was in action again to stop a Bilyaletdinov header.
Tim Howard was called upon to produce a smart stop to deny the sprinting Nicolas Anelka and then a piledriver from Didier Drogba as the entertainment-factor in the game increased significantly.
Arteta fired wide from distance on the stroke of half-time as honours remained even going into the second 45 minutes.
Everton started brightly and tested Chelsea in the 52nd minute, Ramires producing a block to deny Louis Saha at the back post.
Cech, who was enjoying an impressive game, needed hins finger-tips to deny Fellaini on 55 minutes as, again, the crowd found their voice. Arteta volleyed wide as the heat was raised - and then came the goal.
Who else but Saha against Chelsea. He rose imperiously to glance home Leighton Baines' in-swinging corner in the 62nd minute to chalk up his seventh goal in eight games against the Londoners.
And for the first time in the game, the Goodison crowd erupted in full voice. A Bilyaletdinov attempted overhead kick missed the target - but underlined the increased confidence in the Everton camp.
And it was the home side looking the most likely to score again. Coleman forced Cech into an outstanding save down bi his left-hand post. Indeed, the young Irishman was growing in confidence as hhe charged, tackled and marauded down the right.
But then, out of the blue, came the equaliser. Substitute Salomon Kalou received the ball on the inside right, jinked into the area and slid the ball inside the far post with 15 minutes left to play.
It was a hammer blow to the Toffees. But they maintained their forward momentum.
And, inevitably, it left gaps at the other end. Ramires exposed one - but his drive from distance cannoned off the outside of the post.
At the other end, sub Jermaine Beckford capitalised on a defensive slip to fire a thunderous shot towards the roof of the net. Again, Cech was at his very best to tip it over.
And so Stamford Bridge awaits in a few weeks time.