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DAVID MOYES blamed a woeful first-half performance from his Everton FC players for their Capital One Cup capitulation against Leeds United at Elland Road.
The Blues boss made six changes from the side which beat Swansea City on Saturday, with influential performers like England international Leighton Baines rested alongside Steven Pienaar, Phil Jagielka, and Phil Neville.
But his fringe players failed to rise to the occasion in an abject opening period of the third round tie, during which they fell behind in the third minute to Aidan White’s goal.
Moyes handed full debuts to £2m summer signing Bryan Oviedo, a Costa Rican international, and midfielder Francisco Junior as well as giving starts to Magaye Gueye and second-string keeper Jan Mucha.
He said: "These boys are in the squad and they’ve got to show that when players get injured in the first team they can come in and play. If you don’t use them what’s the point in having them? One or two did OK but other didn’t.
"We started terribly and handed Leeds the initiative and in all honesty probably lost the game in the first 20 minutes by giving away a really poor goal."
Everton were denied two second half penalty claims, the most compelling when ref Lee Mason ignored a shove on Victor Anichebe in the penalty area and later a hand-ball which also went unnoticed by the officials.
But a furious Moyes was in no mood to discuss the decisions at length. He said: "I would rather not talk about the penalty because I’d have to talk about another 100 incidents which were disappointing for me, so I’d rather not talk about it."
Moyes felt his side improved in the second half but overall could not argue with the result. "We were not very good in the first half and a bit better in the second but overall we didn’t play as well as we have been playing.
"The changes at half time gave us a bit of momentum but we still didn’t pass it as well as we have been, We should gave made it 1-1 five minutes before they scored their second, which would have completely changed the game and given it a different look and calmed us down.
"Because we missed and conceded the second goal there was a mountain to climb. We kept battling away but it wasn’t to be."
JOHN HEITINGA insisted squad rotation was not the reason for Everton FC’s 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat by Leeds United at Elland Road.
The Dutch defender was handed the captain’s arm-band for the third round tie against Neil Warnock’s Championship outfit last night, and was joined in the side by several fringe players as David Moyes made six changes from the line-up which beat Swansea on Saturday.
However, the Blues suffered a slack start and only improved when Steven Pienaar and Phil Neville were introduced at half-time for Magaye Gueye and Francscio Junior. Nevertheless, Heitinga said that a collective poor display was behind the infuriating set-back.
He said: “I think you can’t blame the changes. We’ve got a good squad – sometimes you get games like this.
“It was a big disappointment, we didn’t play how we knew we could play and they scored an easy goal. After that the first half was bad. We didn’t create anything, there was no spirit.
“You saw a bit of a difference in the second half with Felli up top behind Victor and we created some chances, but I think we lost the game in the first half.”
The Dutch international said the pain of defeat was compounded by a chance for long over-due silverware being ended, but insisted nobody at Goodison can afford to dwell on the game.
“Unfortunately we’re out of the cup now and we need to focus on the next game on Saturday,” he said. “Of course because it’s the shortest way to get a prize and we’re out of the competition so it hurts. We need to focus on the league and we can’t dwell on this for too many days.”
STEVEN NAISMITH could be facing an international ban, after FIFA confirmed yesterday they had launched a disciplinary probe into an off the ball incident during Scotland’s recent World Cup qualifer against Serbia.
Everton striker Naismith clashed with Srdan Mijailovic in the 0-0 Group A opener.
The probe, which is likely to see Naismith found guilty of an elbowing offence on TV evidence, has been launched a fortnight after the match, despite the incident not being mentioned in the reports written up by Swedish ref Jonas Eriksson and Austrian delegate Christian Schmolzer.
The SFA have written to FIFA to seek clarification on why they have decided to take action now – and exactly who brought the incident to their attention.
Manager Craig Levein is all but resigned to losing Naismith for next month’s trip to Wales and fears he could also miss the next qualifier in Belgium.
A source close to the Scottish national side said: “On one hand, it doesn’t really matter who made the complaint as it’s done now and the player will most probably be banned. But, on the other, it would be nice to know.”
A FIFA spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have opened disciplinary procedures against Steven Naismith.”
However, he would not say who had alerted football’s governing body to the incident.
Scotland’s chances of reaching the finals in Brazil in 2014 were damaged by two draws at home to Serbia and Macedonia.
They sit fourth in Group A, behind Serbia, Belgium and Croatia.
These are uncertain times for Leeds United but the Championship club produced an accomplished performance to belie their mid-table position in the second tier and send Everton back down the M62 with the FA Cup as their only realistic ambition of silverware this season.
GFH Capital, potential investors, were once again present at Elland Road to watch Aidan White and Rodolph Austin secure the club's place in the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with a goal each side of half-time and, while Sylvain Distin's 81st-minute header ensured a nervy finish, this was a deserved victory.
On a sopping West Yorkshire evening Leeds, despite a mounting injury list, proved they were more than a match for their top-flight opponents. The manager, Neil Warnock, said: "I think that's as good a performance as I've ever had in the cup, because of the circumstances. It was like going back in time, with the weather chucking it down, the fans singing, the officials were great, everything was.
"We were better on the night. We deserved the win. They did have a few chances and we did too. We had our centre-halves in bandage and covered in blood and we had the likes of [Michael] Brown, [Danny] Pugh and [Jamie] Ashdown. They've hardly played but they fitted in lovely. I'm pleased for them all."
The last time these sides met in a Premier League encounter in 2004, Wayne Rooney and James Milner were on target. It was another academy product who broke the deadlock on Tuesday night, White capitalising on sloppy defending to dance through a sea of blue statues before curling a sumptuous effort past Jan Mucha.
Leeds almost doubled their advantage in first-half injury time. El-Hadji Diouf, derided by the travelling supporters, hung up a cross to the far post where Luciano Becchio was waiting, only for Mucha to parry his powerful header before Steven Naismith hacked off the line.
This was not the same Everton side that have started their league campaign so well. David Moyes made six changes to his team although there were places for Marouane Fellaini, Victor Anichebe and Kevin Mirallas, who combined effectively during Saturday's 3-0 win at Swansea City.
"We were not very good in the first half," said Moyes. "We started terribly, gave them the initiative and lost the game in the opening 20 minutes." On his squad players, he added: "These boys are in the squad and have to be able to show they can come in and play. If you don't use them, what's the point in having them?"
The Everton manager replaced Francisco Junior and Magaye Gueye with Steven Pienaar and Phil Neville at the interval. However, despite an injection of urgency Naismith spurned a glorious chance by sending a far-post header wide of the target with the goal at his mercy.
Leeds went 2-0 ahead with 20 minutes remaining. A corner down the left was played to Pugh outside the area and, with the Everton defence asleep again, he fired the ball into a crowded box, Austin getting the crucial touch to divert it past Mucha. Distin pulled one back for the visitors with a looping header from Pienaar's free-kick but, despite a late penalty appeal as Jason Pearce clambered over the back of Anichebe, Leeds held on. Pearce, with eight stitches in his head after a first-half collision, epitomised their endeavour. Everton were left questioning their own.
David Moyes reckons some of his understudies failed their big audition as Everton were dumped out by Leeds.
Moyes made six changes, handing a debut to Francisco Junior and a first start to Bryan Oviedo, and he was disappointed by Everton’s poor performance at Elland Road.
The unhappy Blues boss, who also hooked Magaye Gueye at half-time, was gutted at seeing Everton blow their best chance of silverware after their great start to the season.
Everton’s wait to win the League Cup - whoever it's sponsored by - goes on, and Moyes said: “These boys are in the squad and they have got to be able to show when players get injured in the first team that they can come in and play.
“If you don’t use them, then what’s the point in having them?
“I’ve seen a bit [tonight]. It’s a big place to come and play and Leeds always has been.
“One or two did OK, and one or two didn’t.
“We started terribly and we gave Leeds the initiative. Because of that we probably lost the game in the opening 20 minutes of the game because of the way we started.”
Leeds boss Neil Warnock claimed the upset was even better than knocking Leeds out of both cups in 2002-03 with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United.
“This is as good a performance and result as I have every had in the cups,” beamed the Leeds boss.
“I had a great run with Sheffield, but I just think with the circumstances here, the injuries and Everton being such a good side, that this is better.”
Everton did not field an Englishman in their starting line-up for the first time and Moyes’ decision to start with some of his big hitters on the bench appeared to motivate Leeds.
Roared on by the packed Kop, Leeds, inspired by the tireless El-Hadji Diouf, the peerless Rodolph Austin and the ageless Michael Brown, harried Everton and took the lead in the fourth minute.
Austin won the ball, knocking it to Aidan White and the Irishman darted between Marouane Fellaini and Sylvain Distin before coolly planting the ball left-footed into the top corner for his first Leeds goal on his 74th appearance.
With Brown dominating Fellaini, only Jan Mucha stood up to Leeds and he saved a shot from White before parrying Luciano Becchio’s header on the line, with Steven Naismith completing the clearance.
Everton improved in the second half, although that would not have been hard, and substitute Steven Pienaar blazed over from their first decent chance.
Naismith then wastefully headed wide at the back post and Victor Anichebe turned and shot just wide.
Despite Everton’s revival, Leeds scored a second on 69 minutes when Diouf picked out Danny Pugh from a free-kick on the left-hand side of the area and his shot was touched home by Austin.
Everton pulled one back nine minutes from time when Anichebe, their only decent outfield player, flicked on a free-kick for Distin to head home, but Leeds deservedly hung on for a famous win.
Former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger is training with Everton with a view to getting a contract at Goodison Park.
Hitzlsperger has been without a club since leaving Wolfsburg at the end of last season but has Premier League experience following spells with West Ham and Aston Villa.
The 30-year-old has made a positive first impression at Everton but Blues assistant boss Steve Round admits there is some way to go.
Round told the club's official website: "I have been very pleased with him.
"Thomas is a long way off playing but we have given him the opportunity to come in and it is up to him now. We will assess him over the next couple of weeks.
"He seems a really good lad and I don't think I have seen him without a smile on his face.
"What will determine whether he gets a contract is his fitness. He has had a bad injury and we would want to see that he could sustain training.
"If he could do that, he would add quality and strength to our squad. He has got a history of playing at the highest level."
The Scotland and Everton forward Steven Naismith is facing a Fifa disciplinary charge after allegedly elbowing Serbia's Srdjan Mijailovic during a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park this month.
The incident occurred when the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson was looking the other way but television footage appeared to show Naismith smashing his elbow into Mijailovic's face.
If found guilty by Fifa the Scot faces a possible three-match ban and could miss home and away World Cup ties against Wales and the match in Belgium.
Naismith, who has won 18 caps, joined Everton at the start of this season after spending five years with Rangers.