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Thursday 18 September K.O. 20:05

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Goodison Park | 17th March 2012 12:45

Everton v Sunderland

Everton's quest to reach Wembley was put on hold as they were frustrated by Sunderland at Goodison Park.

David Moyes' men were looking to sew up an FA Cup semi-final trip to the national stadium but now face the prospect of an all-or-nothing replay at the Stadium of Light.

The hosts were forced to do things the hard way almost from the off as the unlikely figure of Phil Bardsley rifled the visitors into a 12th-minute lead.

Tim Cahill levelled with a bullet header just 11 minutes later but, try as they might, the Blues couldn't find the killer blow to carve an immediate path into the final four.

John Heitinga slides in to tackle Sunderland's James McClean.John Heitinga slides in to tackle Sunderland's James McClean.

Moyes made six changes to the side which lost at Liverpool, restoring as he did so the line-up which had defeated high-flying Tottenham on the Blues' last home outing.   

Cahill, John Heitinga, Royston Drenthe, Nikica Jelavic, Phil Neville and Leon Osman all came back in, and it was the latter who had the Toffees' first chance within 120 seconds.

A Sunderland free-kick resulted in James McClean heading wide and when Everton broke, Seamus Coleman found room to centre for the diminutive midfielder, who flung himself, only to follow suit in glancing the ball harmlessly off target.

It was a meaningful demonstration of intent from both sides - but it would be the visitors who would spark a blood and thunder cup tie to life.

Leighton Baines was punished for a foul on Craig Gardner and when Jack Colback's free-kick was laid off to Bardsley, the right back was left with the time and space to drill the ball through the crowd and low to Tim Howard's right.

The set-back might have energised the hosts but instead it was Sunderland who immediately found a higher gear. A dangerous swirling corner from Colback and another misguided header from McClean was all they could muster though, and when Everton finally got a chance to reply, they took it.

Drenthe picked up the ball in midfield and played in Baines down the left. In turn, the England man produced the type of homing missile-like cross which has become his signature, and though Jelavic's initial header was off target, Cahill reacted smartly to divert past keeper Simon Mignolet.

The rest of the Blues congratulate Tim Cahill on his equaliser.Tim Cahill is congratulated on his equaliser.

It was only the Australian's second goal of the campaign but it was vintage Cahill and timed to perfection.

Indeed, Everton's look of vulnerability soon faded and it was they who ended the first half in the ascendency.

Almost immediately Cahill forced Mignolet into a parry which the Belgian could only flick as far as Sylvain Distin. The French defender did everything right in coolly side-stepping on to his left foot but somehow sent this effort crashing into the Gwladys Street.

Drenthe, who was suddenly growing in stature following an off-colour start, then went close with what would have been an Everton goal of the season contender.

The Dutchman could well be the favourite for that prize already. But had his 30-yard free-kick found the top corner rather than fizzing off the apex of Mignolet's post and crossbar then it would surely have topped the lot.

A shot from the increasingly influential Cahill again caused Mignolet to spill early in the second half but Wayne Bridge was alert to clear the danger with Coleman lurking. Nicklas Bendtner then had the ball in the net at the other end but had long been flagged offside.

Coleman was soon getting pay back on Bridge, the midfielder's quick feet and turn of pace leaving the former Chelsea man and Ireland teammate McClean bamboozled. Unfortunately, the youngster couldn't find the composure to match his craft and he wastefully dragged wide when better options seemed apparent. 

Nikica Jelavic appeals for handball.Nikica Jelavic appeals to referee Andre Marriner

Cahill's battle with Mignolet continued when Marouane Fellaini teed him up eight yards out, but the bounce asked a lot of the 32-year-old and his improvised volley was easily gathered.

Jelavic then glanced a pinpoint Baines free-kick on to the roof of the net before Moyes made two changes, sending on first Magaye Gueye for the tiring Coleman and then striker Denis Stracqualursi for winger Drenthe.

In between, a tame Jelavic header found the gloves of Mignolet before the Croat was left screaming for a penalty after what he adjudged to be a handball. Referee Andre Marriner showed little interest and waved away his protests.

As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, Mignolet thwarted Jelavic once more, this time reacting quickly to palm away his follow up to John Heitinga's brilliantly saved header.

It was enough to keep the Blues at bay. The battle recommences a week on Tuesday.
 

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