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v Crystal Palace

Sunday 21 September K.O. 16:00



Goodison Park | 26th October 2011 20:00

Everton 1 Chelsea 2 AET

Everton's brave battlers looked to have taken Chelsea the distance in this thrilling cup tie - only to suffer a cruel knock-out blow at the death.

Daniel Sturridge's 116th minute strike sealed this tie on a night when both side's had a man sent-off and saw penalties squandered.

Indeed, it was a tie that had everything - including spirit, guts, class and panache from the men in the blue shirts.

Despite a bright opening David Moyes' men found themselves a goal down after 37 minutes thanks to a calamitous goal that owed much to a slip by goalkeeper Jan Mucha. And it could have been 2-0 at half-time, had Nicolas Anelka not sent a penalty wide of the target prior to the opener.

But Everton fought back and earned the equaliser delivered by Louis Saha just minutes before the end of normal time - his sixth goal for Everton against the men from west London.

By that point, Chelsea were down to 10 men, with Ross Turnbull red-carded for felling Saha in the penalty box.

Leighton Baines had his penalty saved by sub Petr Cech but Saha's fully deserved equaliser signalled 30 minutes of tense and enthralling extra-time.

Everton had the edge and were making their extra man count until they themselves were reduced to 10 men when Royston Drenthe, who had been a mesmerising bundle of energy all night, was shown a second yellow card.

With their energy sapped, the Blues tried in vain to hold on after that setback. Sturridge's strike denied them the penalty shoot-out their efforts merited.

Baine sees his penalty saved by Petr CechBaines sees his penalty saved by Petr Cech

But this gutsy performance will not be forgotten in a hurry.

The game started brightly and the pace never let-up. A neat drag-back from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov inside the opening nine minutes found Saha whose quickfire shot forced a good stop low to his right by Turnbull. The French forward, fresh from his first strike of the season at Craven Cottage, was looking ominous as an attacking force - as an early snapshot which again tested Turnbull minutes later illustrated.

But the visitors should have taken the lead in the 17th minute when John Heitinga was ruled to have felled Josh McEachran in the penalty area. Anelka stepped up to take the kick but somehow contrived to pass it well wide of the upright.

It was proving a lively and open contest, with both sides showing attacking verve. Heitinga fired wide from a free-kick, Anelka had a claim for a penalty turned down when he collided with Sylvain Distin and Bilyaletdinov forced Turnbull into a good stop.

But then came the goal. And it wasn't worthy of the game. Salomon Kalou floated a speculative effort goalwards. Jan Mucha looked to have gathered it but it wriggled from his hands and into the net.

That came in the 38th minute. The ground was stunned. But half-time would have been much more bearable had Distin had more fortune with a backpost header from a Drenthe corner in injury-time before the break.

For the second period the Goodison chief replaced skipper Phil Neville with Tony Hibbert at right-back.

The Blues produced some neat passing moves, with Bilyaletdinov enjoying a particularly bright opening to the second period. But the first keeper tested was Mucha, who denied the imposing Lukaku.

Romelu Lukaku goes close early onRomelu Lukaku goes close early on

Everton's spritely and energetic approach to the game was certainly engaging, with Fellaini and Jack Rodwell the notable driving force behind so much of the Blues' best football.

And that brave approach brought a reward in the 58th minute when Saha reacted quickest to latch on to a defensive error by David Luiz. Turnbull tripped the striker and referee Mason had no hesitation in awarding the penalty and presenting the Chelsea keeper with a red card.

Petr Cech entered the fray in place of Lukaku. His first action was to produce a dramatic double save to deny Leighton Baines before Tim Cahill headed the second rebound narrowly wide.

Undeterred, Everton players and fans alike were galvanised in their mission to secure an equaliser. Drenthe typified that rampaging approach going close with a free-kick, blasting over from 35 yards and producing some eye-catching runs to put the 10-men very much on the backfoot.

With 13 minutes left to play Rodwell, who had been impressive, was sacrificed to accomodate an additional striker in the shape of Denis Stracqualursi. Minutes later and Bilyaletdinov, who deserved his rich applause, was replaced by Seamus Coleman.

And just when it seemed the equaliser would not materialise despite the valiant efforts Chelsea's Achilles heel found the target again. A teasing early cross from Coleman was anticipated by Saha, who darted to the front post to gently guide the ball into the net.

Phil Neville tussles with Salomon KalouPhil Neville tussles with Salomon Kalou

With seven minutes of normal time remaining Goodison willed a winner.

Drenthe drilled wide, Stracqualursi headed powerfully over, Saha dragged a cracker wide and a mesmerising run from Coleman ended with a cross failing to find a blue shirt.

The Blues deserved to find a winner in normal time. But after five minutes of injury time the referee's whistle signalled extra-time - and more nerve-jangling tension.

Everton continued to dominate, although the only chance of note in the opening period was a speculative effort from distance by Luiz that Mucha smothered well.

Parity was restored with the numbers early in the second period of extra-time when a second yellow card for Drenthe for a foul on Ryan Bertrand reduced the home side to 10 men. With that, the dynamic of the contest changed and it was Chelsea's turn to set-up camp in the opposition half.

It looked as though Everton's resolve would hold firm, as an outstanding goalline clearance from Baines to deny Anelka what seemed a certain goal served to underline. Mucha did brilliantly to push a Branislav Ivanovic drive over the bar and then parried a Malouda drive. But it was that second effort which teed up the winning goal, Daniel Sturridge following up to tuck the ball into the corner of the net.

In the four minutes left Saha went close but a second equaliser wouldn't come. And Everton's heroes were left to reflect on a valiant but ultimately unrewarding night of top quality cup football.



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