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Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05



Goodison Park | 11th December 2010 15:00

Everton v Wigan Athletic

Quite how Everton failed to win this game will long remain a mystery.

The Blues dominated from start to finish against a Wigan side which offered little, and yet chance after chance went begging as a frustrating run at Goodison Park continued.

David Moyes' men deserved victory and yet cross after cross were cleared or captured, while corners came and went with the same result.

Wigan keeper Al Habsi produced superb saves to deny Seamus Coleman and Louis Saha, while Tim Cahill was unfortunate to see a header come back off the woodwork.

Tim Howard, unused all game, was then required to do his bit to protect the point in the dying moments, the American producing a fine stop of his own to deny substitute Ronnie Stam what would have been the cruelest of winners.
Moyes was able to name an unchanged side from that which drew at Chelsea after Steven Pienaar passed a late fitness test on the knee problem with saw him limp off at Stamford Bridge. 

And perhaps buoyed by their trip to the champions, the hosts took a tight strangehold on momentum from the off.

Everton v WiganJack Rodwell looks to escape Antolin Alcaraz

Aerially they clearly had the upperhand on their visitors and they used it to litter the opening exchanges with a succession of threatening moves.

But while a lot of the Blues' first-half play was intricate, the opening opportunity, one which came inside 60 seconds, was textbook long ball.

From well inside his own half Phil Jagielka hung the ball up towards the Wigan penalty area for Saha. The Frenchman showed strength to hold off Steven Caldwell and Cahill snuck in behind. The Australian brought the ball down expertly to go one-on-one and it took a superb last-ditch tackle from Antolin Alcaraz to deny Moyes' men the perfect start.

Most of Everton's best work though came down the left, Pienaar and Leighton Baines at times displaying an almost telepathic understanding.

The latter may have mustered an opener for Marouane Fellaini two minutes in, though Al Habsi did enough to get fists to his swirling cross.

More good invention from the England man then teed up Pienaar to deliver. Spotting the movement of Saha, the South African fired the ball in towards the near post and though the Frenchman flunge himself, he couldn't find a meaningful touch.

On 11 minutes, a free-kick again allowed Baines to pick out Fellaini. This time the Belgian got under the ball, causing his header to sail high over the crossbar.

But the brilliance of the Baines-Pienaar partnership was demonstated once more within a minute. This time the South African burst away from the pack to pick up a short corner before turning and crossing towards the back post. Again it was an Everton player who climbed highest, but Saha's downward header bounced the wrong side of the upright.

Everton's dominance of the game was unrelenting, but while their build-up play was, at times, eye catching, working the ball into shooting positions was proving troublesome. When they did, a reluctance to take aim was clearly leaving the home faithful frustrated.

The Blues fans almost had reason to cheer on the stroke of half time however when another move down the left led to Fellaini drilling the ball across the face of goal. His centre left Al Habsi stranded but was also too strong for the stretching Cahill.

Pienaar holds off the attentions of DiamePienaar holds off the attentions of Diame

The second half started much the same as the first, Cahill appealing for a penalty early on only to be denied by the linesman's flag.

A venemous Pienaar effort from 20 yards then had Al Habsi flinging himself at his near post, and the Omani international had to be alert to take hold of Jack Rodwell's improvised volley.

Everton's frustrations were perhaps best summed up in a two-minute spell just after the hour mark.

First Pienaar played in Saha, but the Frenchman struggled to get the ball under control. When he did, he was short on time and his poked effort was palmed away.

Cahill then hit the post with a header before Coleman broke through only to be thwarted by the legs of Al Habsi. When a loose ball fell to Pienaar moments later, he blazed it high into the Park End.

Moyes' reaction was to switch Saha with Jermaine Beckford, the scorer of last week's equaliser at Chelsea, and, soon after, a limping Pienaar was replaced by Victor Anichebe.

Beckford, in particular, looked lively and had the ball in the net with 20 minutes to go, only to be correctly flagged offside.

A desperate tackle on Mohamed Diame from Jagielka then ended Wigan's first threatening moment before Howard's strong palm came to the rescue.



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