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Goodison Park | 27th April 2013 15:00

Everton v Fulham

Everton moved back to within three points of fifth as they inflicted a 20th consecutive Goodison Park defeat on Fulham.
 
Steven Pienaar's 16th-minute strike proved enough to take all three points - though, in truth, this could have been a landslide.
 
Kevin Mirallas, Marouane Fellaini and substitute Ross Barkley all had chances to add emphasis to the scoreline in a game where victory rarely looked in doubt.
 
The result may even have looked better for the Blues had Wigan held on against Tottenham - an injury-time own goal at the DW Stadium all that prevented David Moyes' men edging even closer to that desired shot at the Europa League.
 
Moyes made two changes to the side which lost at Sunderland, welcoming back the fit-again Phil Jagielka in place of John Heitinga and replacing the injured Darron Gibson with Croatian Nikica Jelavic.
 
The alterations meant a switch to 4-4-2, with Jelavic joined up front by Anichebe.
 
Fellaini, the man who this week promised to dye his famous 'afro' silver for Everton in the Community, was also a persistent threat to the Cottagers - just as he had been in netting twice in the reverse fixture, a 2-2 draw in November.

Pienaar Anichebe FulhamGoalscorer Steven Pienaar is congratulated by Victor Anichebe
 
And it was he who almost broke the deadlock with just three minutes on the clock, the Belgian meeting compatriot Mirallas' corner but seeing his downward header hacked desperately off the goalline.
 
Mirallas, too, was his usual tricky self and soon after forced a save from Mark Schwarzer following a neat move involving Anichebe and Leon Osman. The flag went up against the Belgian anyway, though it was a clear warning of what lay just around the corner.
 
Again Osman was involved as this time the England man threaded a ball into the path of the charging Seamus Coleman. The flying full-back reached it at the byline, cut it back across goal and there was Pienaar, arriving on cue to side-foot home his seventh goal of the season from eight-yards out.
 
Things got worse for the visitors on the half-hour mark as a clearly uncomfortable Dimitar Berbatov hobbled off to be replaced by Mladen Petric.
 
A trip on Pienaar by former Everton loanee Philippe Senderos allowed the halt in play for the Bulgarian to depart, before Mirallas crashed the resultant free-kick into an immovable Fulham wall.
 
Possession, though, was coming easy to the hosts. It was largely Leighton Baines and Pienaar doing the work down the left but when they weren't it was Coleman and Mirallas on the right.
 
Indeed, the comfort with which the Blues were able to operate was best summed up when Alex Kacaniklic's shot deflected wide off Coleman on 38 minutes to bring up Fulham's first noteworthy effort of the match.

Baines Header FulhamBaines battles with Urby Emanuelson
 
Before that, Jelavic might have done better in attempting to tee up Anichebe but overhit his cross and the danger passed.
 
The Nigerian then inadvertently diverted a thumping shot from Fellaini wide of the upright before Fulham blew a golden chance to equalise, substitute Petric failing narrowly to meet Richardson's dangerous back-post cross.
 
At half-time, Goodison welcomed back heroes of the Club's 1962/63 title success as Alex Young, Derek Temple, Mick Meagan, Tony Kay and Billy Bingham took to the pitch.
 
Tribute was also paid to nine members of that side who have since passed away, among them manager Harry Catterick and the legendary Brian Labone.
 
Everton's current assortment of stars needed to look no further for inspiration - and they started the second half by wrestling back the momentum.
 
If they needed a reminder just how fragile a one-goal lead can be though, they got it just seven minutes after the restart.
 
The ball was played in to the unmarked Richardson just inside the box but the former Sunderland man fluffed his moment, blazing high into the Park End to leave Tim Howard untested between the Toffees' sticks.
 
It proved to be his final act, as the winger limped off moments later to be replaced by Damien Duff.
 
Everton, meanwhile, reapplied the pressure and when Jagielka failed to connect with Baines' corner, the ball slid off the head of Jelavic and wide of goal.
 
The Croatian was soon making way too, Moyes sending on Barkey to bulk up the numbers in midfield.
 
And his impact was almost immediate, only a linesman's flags halting Mirallas as he looked to capitalise on the teenager's perfectly cushioned through-header.  
 
Osman saw a long-range volley deflected over soon after,  before Mirallas almost added a belter to his Everton catalogue, the Belgian craftily flicking the ball past Eyong Enoh before forcing Schwarzer into a fine sprawling save.
 
There were half-chances too for Fellaini and Anichebe as Everton's metronomic banging of the door continued.

Everton v FulhamPienaar puts a tackle in on Eyong Enoh.
 
And the hunt for the elusive second goal should really have been ended by the former, the Belgian - an open net to his side -  driving a shot into the turf and watching in agony as it bounced up and over the crossbar.
 
Ultimately - thankfully - it didn't come back to haunt.

Barkley may even have capped a fine cameo with a first Everton goal in the dying seconds.
 
Schwarzer stood firm to deny him that particular prize. For Everton though, this was four straight home wins, four clean sheets and job well done.

By Adam Clark
 

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