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Goodison Park | 30th March 2013 17:30

Everton v Stoke City

Kevin Mirallas' first half run and finish was enough to see Everton beat Stoke at Goodison Park.

The Belgian flyer's individual strike shortly before the half hour was the flash of brilliance required to set the Blues apart from the Potters.

After Tottenham and Arsenal had both won, three points were a must for Everton if they were to keep pace with the other sides trying to finish in the European places.

And despite being deprived of the services of Steven Pienaar and Marouane Fellaini through suspension, the Blues battled to secure victory.

Everton v StokeMirallas charges forward

They were boosted before kick off by the return of Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka from injury with David Moyes opting to use the defender in the centre of a back three.

Howard showed no lack of agility after is absence to repel Peter Crouch's effort in the first couple of minutes, with Jon Walters sending the rebound against the bar in a let-off for the Blues.

Perhaps adjusting to their new-look shape it took until the 15th minute for Everton to worry Asmir Begovic and even then it was a routine save from Anichebe's speculative long-range effort.

Midway through the opening period Baines dined the ball back to Jelavic from the byline but the Croat's header lacked the power to worry his Balkan foe Begovic.

Everton v StokeMoyes watches on from the touchline

Everton were enjoying their best spell and could have scored sooner had Seamus Coleman not blazed over after wriggling away from Walters.

But then the goal did come. Mirallas seized on a clearance well inside his own half, looked round for help and seeing none, pinned back his ears and hared towards the Park End goal.

A lucky ricochet and a swift change of direction later, he was through and able to show the necessary composure to slip the ball into the net.

Moments later the Belgian was inches wide with another angled drive after good work by Nikica Jelavic.

Heitinga and Baines fired over from range as the home side sought to double their advantage but Howard was in action again before the break, producing a full-length dive to to push away Walters' curling effort.

Mirallas AnichebeThe goalscorer is congratulated by Anichebe

Eleven minutes into the second half Robert Huth glanced a free kick just wide and on the hour mark Mirallas again tested Begovic from the edge of the box.

Seconds later City's Ryan Shotton headed wide after Marc Wilson's cross had flicked of Sylvain Distin and arrived at the back post.

Next Darron Gibson picked out Jelavic but again his headed effort lacked power.

Shawcross was cautioned after hauling down the Everton striker on the edge of the box shortly afterwards. Baines smashed that free-kick into the wall but an almost identical dead ball situation followed which Jelavic curled just wide.

Jelavic Jelavic delighted with Everton's opener

While there was only goal in it every Stoke foray forward provided nervous moments at Goodison and Jerome was next to have the home fans' hearts in their mouths with a swirling shot that flashed across goal.

With just over 10 minutes left Mirallas limped off holding his thigh with Ross Barkley on to replace him.

But the only threat to Everton's lead was seen off by Howard's save from Charlie Adam in the last action of the game.

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