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Stamford Bridge | 19th May 2013 16:00

Chelsea v Everton

Everton failed to provide a winning send off for David Moyes as goals from Juan Mata and Fernando Torres settled an entertaining final-day encounter at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues went into the Scot’s final game in charge knowing they were destined for a sixth-place finish regardless of the result.

Victory, however, would have ensured a record Premier League points haul of 66 - and it looked on after Steven Naismith cancelled out Mata's early opener with a stylish 14th-minute chip.

The visitors duly had chances to win it themselves before Torres' late intervention - notably through substitute Nikica Jelavic - but there wasn't to be one last win for Moyes on his 518th and final game at the helm.

Chelsea AwayVictor Anichebe in an aeriel tussle

Moyes will now head off to Old Trafford to take the reins at Manchester United, while Everton's search for a replacement continues.

As the referee's full-time whistle signalled the end of the game, so did it bring to an end an 11-year journey in which the former Preston chief not only drove forward a team but galvanised an entire Club.

Nine top-eight finishes, a first FA Cup final in 14 years, the return of European football to Goodison Park after a near-decade long absence - all tangible examples of the Scot's success.

Add to those, though, a state-of-the-art training ground, purpose built against a blueprint drafted to Moyes' specifications. Add to them, a plaudit-drawing playing style cultivated over time and realised during this season perhaps more than any other.

Chelsea AwayDemba Ba threatens

Add a water-tight dressing room comprising characters who refuse to know when they're beaten. And add, too, a backroom staff boasting three former captains who could now play a critical role in ensuring the established framework is built upon and strengthened further still.

There were lows too - the swift end of the Club's first and, to date, only venture in the Champions League, Wembley defeats against Chelsea and Liverpool, the agony of exiting the UEFA Cup on penalties to Fiorentina - yet the bigger picture remains a bright one.

People often discuss the proficiency of Sir Alex Ferguson, the man Moyes will succeed in Manchester, in reshaping and remoulding his teams. Well this is Moyes' third Everton 'team' and assessing the evidence of the past 10 months as a whole, it's one he leaves in flourishing health.

Just the sole league defeat at Goodison Park gave the team a home record rivalled only by that of dethroned champions Manchester City. A tally of 63 points was two more than achieved in finishing fourth in 2004/05.

Chelsea AwayPienaar tries to get an effort away
 
Moyes made just one change to his final line-up, replacing the injured Leon Osman with Naismith.

On a day of farewells, a knee problem meant Club captain Phil Neville was deprived a final run out in Blue, the curtain coming down on a sparkling Everton career with the veteran 36-year-old on 303 appearances.

In his absence, an end-to-end opening 45 minutes began with Demba Ba getting the wrong side of Sylvain Distin but slipping at the vital moment.

It was a sign of things to come though as, on seven minutes, it was the Senegal international's shot which flummoxed Tim Howard, allowing Mata to nip in and steer home the rebound from close range.

Typically, falling behind ignited Everton and the hosts' advantage would last little more than six minutes.

Naismith had already squandered one good opportunity when he pounced on some lackadaisical defending by David Luiz to prod the ball in the direction of Victor Anichebe. The Nigerian neatly returned possession back to the Scot and, as Cech advanced, he cutely dinked a shot over the keeper and into the back of the net.

It wasn't just Naismith on the goal hunt though. Darron Gibson had already tried his luck from distance on two occasions when he almost got lucky on the third, his piledriver taking a deflection off Luiz and striking the post twice via the shoulder of Cech before the danger was finally cleared.

Soon after Dutch teenager Nathan Ake, handed his first Premier League start by Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez, let fly with an ambitious 30-yard attempt of his own. Howard, happily, watched it all the way over his crossbar.

Temporarily putting aside his one-man mission to score, Gibson then flighted a ball over to Kevin Mirallas at the back post and, as the Belgian ghosted in, he should really have done better than to stab his shot straight into the grasp of the sprawling Cech.  

Steven Pienaar joined the list of players to blaze over before the half was out, while Howard had to stand firm to deny Mata a second after the Spaniard got in behind on the back of a delicate flicked pass from Frank Lampard.  

The American, Howard, was called into action again just three minutes after the break as this time he parried from defender Gary Cahill.

And after Branislav Ivanovic had headed over from a corner, Phil Jagielka was fortunate to get away with a sloppy pass straight to the feet of Ba.

A spirited run from Pienaar was halted on the edge of the box as Everton looked to swing momentum back their way, but the cohesion of the first half was waning, illustrated best when Marouane Fellaini broke free from Ivanovic on the edge of the box only to fail to produce a shot.

Moyes' response was to look to his bench and on came John Heitinga and Jelavic for Naismith and Anichebe.

Almost immediately Jelavic linked up with Fellaini, but after the latter controlled with his chest, a diving header from the Croat was easily dealt with by Cech.

The same player then passed up a gilt-edge opportunity, planting the ball wide from seven yards having been expertly picked out by Everton's newly-crowned Player of the Season Leighton Baines.

In terms of the afternoon, it proved an expensive miss as Chelsea won it with their next attack, Torres, fresh from his Europa League final strike, drilling home from a Victor Moses knock down just moments later.

Jelavic forced two more saves from Cech before the end as Everton tried – unsuccessfully - to salvage a more fitting end for Moyes.
 
It wasn't the victorious final moment he would have wanted but it wouldn't blur the diligently crafted grander picture of his reign. For Everton an era has ended.

A new dawn begins.

By Adam Clark

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