Fulham v Everton
Fulham had Steve Sidwell to thank as the midfielder’s last minute goal earned his side a share of the spoils at Craven Cottage.
In a game full of twists and turns, the Blues thought they had won it after Marouane Fellaini’s brace had overturned Bryan Ruiz’ early free-kick.
The Toffees had late chances to extend that lead but Mark Schwarzer saved brilliantly from Fellaini then Steven Naismith.
Those saves proved decisive, as up popped Sidwell to steal in at the back post and beat Howard from close range.
David Moyes made two changes, with the returning Steven Pienaar reclaiming his place in the side from Steven Naismith, whilst Sylvain Distin also dropped to the bench, with Johnny Heitinga stepping in to take his place alongside Phil Jagielka.
On the bench, Shane Duffy was late replacement for the ill Victor Anichebe.
It was the Blues who started the brighter, with only some solid defending from the Fulham rear-guard stopping Leon Osman and Pienaar shots from testing Schwarzer.
However it was the hosts who duly opened the scoring on seven minutes. When Phil Neville brought down Dimitar Berbatov, Ruiz’s free-kick looked like being kept out by Tim Howard. However the American palmed the shot onto the post and back into the goal to hand Fulham the lead.
Everton responded. Seamus Coleman’s cross into the box found Fellaini, who steered the ball goalward but found Schwarzer equal to the effort. Jelavic then sent a header looping into the Australian’s hands.
The visitors though were enjoying much of the ball but Fulham looked threatening on the break. One such counter saw Chris Baird release Berbatov, but despite Jagielka’s block, the ball was worked to Damien Duff. The Irishman’s shot however, was well dealt with by Howard.
Osman then had a shot of his own saved by Scwarzer as the Toffees continued to press.
As the first half wore on, the Cottagers began to turn the tide, enjoying more of the ball and starving Everton of possession. Ruiz tried to add a second from distance but his effort flew harmlessly over the bar.
A great interchange on the left saw Pienaar’s clever back heel free the overlapping Baines and the left-back’s whipped delivery perfectly picked out Jelavic. But the Croat’s header was aimed into the floor and it bounced up and over the bar.
Coleman was enjoying some success down the right and he was next to try his luck. Picking up the ball, he ran at John Arne Risse, cut in on his left foot and tried to curl a shot inside the post. Schwarzer was well placed however to save low to his right.
Everton were inches away from levelling five minutes before the interval. Jagielka was looking for a target ahead of him but decided to have a go himself, unleashing a piledriver that fizzed agonisingly wide of Schwarzer’s right-hand post.
Hesitancy at the back then let in Jelavic. With only Schwarzer to beat, the striker looked to dink it over the keeper but got too much on it and it flew frustratingly over the bar.
After the break, the Blues went within a whisker of levelling. A Baines free-kick met the head of Jagielka but his glancing effort flew agonisingly wide.
But, on 54 minutes, Fellaini hauled his side level. A fluid move down the right saw Mirallas free himself in space near the byline, cut the ball back for the Belgian, who thumped home emphatically.
Back came Fulham, and Howard reacted superbly to shoot up a hand to stop Berbatov’s close range drive.
Undeterred, Everton continued to press forward in search of a second. Pienaar took aim from 25 yards but thundered a shot into the side netting.
The South African was then inches away from snapping up a rebound following Schwarzer’s save from Mirallas.
More good football from Everton saw Fellaini slide a glorious pass through for Jelavic, who had made a clever run into the box across the defence. However Fulham right back Sascha Reither tracked his man superbly and slid in to tackle just as the Croatian poised to shoot.
The Blues were well on top, and Mirallas perhaps should have done better when he was picked out superbly by a clever back heel from Baines, cut inside and drove wide of the target.
Pienaar then teed up Osman from the edge of the box but again the effort was off target.
But Everton completed the turnaround in the 72nd minute. A long ball from Jagielka found Fellaini just inside the area, he did brilliantly to shrug off Hughes, control on his chest before rifling home to notch his second of the afternoon.
Fulham, having introduced Mladen Petric to play up front alongside Ruiz and Berbatov, almost levelled through Hangeland’s towering header. Thankfully the Norwegian steered it over the bar.
With 12 minutes remaining, on came Naismith to add some industry, with Mirallas heading off after another bright performance.
The Blues were inches away from sealing victory when Fellaini burst clear inside the box, lashed a deflected shot that beat Schwarzer but not the post. Naismith then had his follow up effort cleared off the line.
Schwarzer then denied the Belgian with a stunning save as Fellaini connected with Coleman’s pinpoint centre, before repeating the feat from Naismith.
Those saves proved crucial as sub Sidwell stole in at the back post to level in the 90th minute, leaving Everton frustrated that it was the solitary point and not three that had been taken.