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At least one England left-back is entirely predictable. Whatever trouble the impulsive Ashley Cole's tweeting lands him in, Leighton Baines has forged an altogether different reputation. He has become a byword for quiet consistency and there are few more reliable players from 12 yards. A penalty that was dispatched emphatically past Ali al-Habsi maintained his 100% record from the spot in the Premier League, cost his former club Wigan two points and provided Everton with a reward for their spirited comeback.
"His penalty was fantastic and his performance was as good as anything," said David Moyes, rarely one to indulge in hyperbole. The Everton manager was more worried by the vagaries of the officiating. If Wigan were left to rue the reunion with Baines, one of their finer servants, a different sort of Friend that annoyed Everton: referee Kevin Friend.
"We have had a really rough day with decisions," Moyes said. "What we got, we earned." Even the eventual award of the penalty did not soothe him. "It was a double penalty kick," he said, referring to two challenges in a matter of seconds. "It was a foul on Victor Anichebe and a foul on Kevin Mirallas."
His grievances spanned the game from first to last; so, too, did the action, with Seamus Coleman contriving to deflect Shaun Maloney's 89th-minute shot over and deny Wigan a winner. Moyes was more concerned about another incident involving his fellow Scot. Maloney crossed for Arouna Koné to head Wigan into the lead. "He is half a yard offside and the linesman is nowhere near in line," complained the Everton manager.
Nevertheless, Koné was a common denominator in Everton's problems. John Heitinga was sufficiently traumatised by the Ivorian's sheer speed that he was replaced at half-time after Koné had scored one and made another. When Gary Caldwell lofted a pass into space on the Wigan right, Koné accelerated past Heitinga and then waited for his team-mates to catch up before providing a cross. Franco Di Santo then lifted his shot into the roof of the net. "It is not easy to score against Everton," Roberto Martínez said. "We scored two from open play. They were great pieces of football."
The Spaniard's delight with his front three – "a joy to watch", the Wigan manager said – was tempered by his disappointment at the defending. "We need to defend a bit better," he said. "The first goal is too soft." Both timing and manner of it left something to be desired for Wigan. Seventy-two seconds after going behind, Everton were level. Steven Pienaar met Marouane Fellaini's pass with a cross to the far post and Nikica Jelavic headed in.
After Di Santo restored Wigan's advantage, Everton responded. "We showed great character," Moyes said. His side also illustrated their ability, fashioning a series of chances. Many involved the left-sided pair of Baines and Pienaar and the Englishman prodded a shot against the post after exchanging passes with the South African.
The revival also owed something to Moyes's reshuffle. Mirallas was moved from the right flank into a striking role in the second half and had a flurry of shots. Leon Osman, who hails from nearby Billinge, twice came close to an equaliser before one with still stronger Wigan connections, in Baines, delivered it. The penalty taker par excellence has added goals to his game since leaving the DW Stadium in 2007; having only struck four times in 162 games for Athletic, he has now managed three goals against them. "We thoroughly deserved the draw," an irritated Moyes said.
The DW Stadium was consumed by contention; Marouane Fellaini might have been sent off; Nikica Jelavic could have had a penalty.
But in the end, this was just about the right result - Everton leaving with only a point following defensively idle first half display.
Amidst the deserved plaudits for all their enterprising football, the lone criticism of Everton in their rise towards the top of the Premier League has been the uncomplicated manner with which they concede. Sooner or later it was going to cost them. It did here.
Last weekend, for instance, Southampton’s goal came from a simple corner routine, a goalkeeping error and the abandonment of marking responsibilities.
Against Wigan Athletic, they fell behind in a similar fashion. Shaun Maloney dropped a shoulder on Seamus Coleman, stood up a cross and Arouna Kone headed in unchallenged. It was so basic.
David Moyes said before this match that the DNA of Everton is evolving all the time but one constant has been their ability to recover through spirit and energy. After Wigan’s opener, that was evident immediately when Pienaar provided his ninth assist of 2012 - more than any other player in the league - by crossing for Jelavic to head between the legs of Ali Al Habsi at the back post.
Soon, Everton’s flaw - a lack of focus during transitional periods of play- was exposed again when Gary Caldwell hit a long ball towards Kone. The Ivorian outsprinted and outmuscled John Heitinga to square for Franco Di Santo. With no midfielders following the run, Di Santo’s finish was unstoppable.
Everton struggled with the movement of Wigan’s front three. Heitinga was particularly insecure and it was unsurprising when he did not appear for the second half, substituted for Sylvain Distin.
At the other end, however, Everton were more confident and patient in their build up. They could have equalised when Leighton Baines hit a post following a dart from left back. Ali Al Habsi also did well to tip over a deflected effort from Leon Osman.
The first half flashpoint came just before half-time when Fellaini challenged Maynor Figueroa on the half way line. The Moroccan had endured an exasperating afternoon to that point; frequently hustled out of possession whenever it came his way by Wigan defenders clearly intent on frustrating Everton’s most dangerous player in the air.
Fellaini - as he always does - used his arms for leverage and his elbow appeared to connect with Figueroa’s face. Roberto Martinez, the Wigan manager, was in his technical area five yards away from the incident and incandescent. Yet referee Kevin Friend only produced a yellow. He later produced the same card for Jelavic when the Croatian tangled with Ivan Ramis. Martinez once again was clearly unhappy.
Chances would arrive for the visitors. Kevin Mirallas should have done a lot better when he fired over after clever approach work involving Pienaar and Baines. The Belgian, repositioned in the centre for the second half, soon forced Al-Habsi into a full-stretch save.
Everton deserved a point, maybe more. A penalty should have been theirs when Figueroa chopped down Jelavic in the box. They were eventually awarded one when Caldwell upended Mirallas and Baines dispatched the kick into the top corner.
It took a penalty three minutes from time to salvage a point for Everton that their response to going behind twice probably warranted. However, Wigan, with only five points to show from seven games and feeling that they are getting a raw deal from referees, may argue again that a key decision influenced the match.
Last week they lost at Sunderland after a contentious red card for Jordi Gomez – later rescinded – took away their control of the match. This time it was the lack of a red card for Marouane Fellaini, Everton's brilliant but sometimes short-tempered attacker, that reinforced their sense of injustice.
Fellaini, who had already aimed a kick at Emmerson Boyce that referee Kevin Friend missed, flattened Maynor Figueroa in an aerial challenge just before half-time. Leading with his arm, he did not elbow the Wigan defender but the hand he planted in the Honduran's face did not look like a passive act. He escaped, though, with a yellow card, perhaps a concession to the robust nature of the attention given him by Wigan's defenders.
At that point, Wigan were 2-1 up and looking assured enough to have pulled off a victory no one expected of them given the start Everton have made to their season. With Fellaini out of the picture, clearly, they could have expected a different dynamic to what lay ahead. But the punishment was not what Wigan wanted and Everton were able to regroup still with a full complement.
In the second half, they looked a different side, putting the home goal under sustained pressure to deal with threats from Leighton Baines and Stephen Pienaar, Everton's deadly duo on the left flank, as well as from Kevin Mirallas on the right and the ever-dangerous Nikica Jelavic through the middle. When Figueroa eventually brought down Mirallas, and Baines, with the emphatic confidence of a player at the top of his game, thumped the ball high to the left of Ali Al Habsi, Everton believed that justice had been done.
Roberto Martinez, only this week fined £10,000 for suggesting there might be some subconscious natural order in the way referees, in his view, tend to favour the bigger sides, was not quite so guarded as he might have been in the circumstances, although he gave the officials the benefit of the doubt.
"From where I was standing it looked like he [Fellaini] came across with his arm," he said. "But the linesman was in a good position and the fourth official was in a good position and if the referee was not certain it was a red card he cannot give it."
It was not a point of view shared by David Moyes, the Everton manager, who felt that it was his side on the wrong end of poor decisions. Everton picked up four yellows in addition to Fellaini's and Moyes said: "I felt we had a really rough day with the decisions. The first Wigan goal was half a yard offside but the linesman was not in line with the ball. And we should have had two penalties, really. Victor Anichebe was fouled just before Mirallas."
Offside or not, Everton were punished for poor defending as Arouna Kone gave Wigan their 10th-minute lead. They were undone by Shaun Maloney's clever footwork on the left and failed to pick up Kone's run as he stole in to head home at the near post.
Everton were allowed back into the game immediately, and from a familiar source. If Baines cannot supply a teasing cross, then there is always Pienaar, whose off-balance shot turned into the perfect ball for Jelavic to nod in at the far post.
Yet Wigan's determination not to let Everton take control brought them a second goal as Moyes' team again paid for their defensive lapses. First Jonny Heitinga, who would be replaced at half-time, was outrun by Kone in a chase for a long ball. Heitinga recovered enough to push the Ivorian to the byline, but behind him his colleagues had failed to pick up the run of Franco di Santo, who arrived to hammer Kone's pull-back into the roof of the Everton net.
For the next 10 minutes, Everton were on the back foot but escaped without further losses and the second half was a different story. Al Habsi made a couple of outstanding saves, from Mirallas and Pienaar, and there were chances missed. Maloney went close for Wigan in stoppage time but an outstanding match probably produced a fair result.
A stirring, feisty, controversial encounter – that had both teams pleading injustice – somehow arrived at the right result.
Everton had to come from behind twice to prise a point, and sustain their challenge to the established order.
Leighton Baines’s 87th-minute penalty ultimately rewarded Everton’s second-half resurgence, and they contend that they had the rougher end of the deal from referee Kevin Friend. Everton insist Wigan’s opening goal was offside, and that they should have had an earlier spot-kick.
But Wigan could counter that Marouane Fellaini might have been sent off before half-time.
What no-one can dispute is the frontline power and penetration Wigan have added to their much-vaunted possession football.
Franco Di Santo and Arouna Kone subjected Everton to a torrid afternoon, and both scored to confirm the conviction of Wigan’s first-half play.
Everton were distinctly below par for much of that period, yet they have resilience as well as style and eventually ground down Wigan.
Manager David Moyes said: “We didn’t do enough in the first half, but played really well in the second. Their first goal was half a yard offside and we should have had another penalty.
“What we got today we had to get ourselves. Baines was terrific. He drove us on and we needed that.”
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez drew encouragement from the performance of his front men, supported by the subtlety of Shaun Maloney.
Martinez said: “It’s hard to take when you concede late in the game, and their first goal was too soft. But we performed at a high level and the front three showed great understanding.” Maloney found it all too easy to make space and chip to the near post for Kone to nod Wigan in front after only 10 minutes.
However, Wigan’s joy lasted barely a minute. Steven Pienaar’s deflected cross looped over Ali Al Habsi for Nikica Jelavic to head an equaliser.
Yet the home side hit back when Kone ran half the length of the pitch, outsmarted John Heitinga and set up Di Santo to thump in Wigan’s second.
Tim Howard saved athletically from Di Santo, but then Al Habsi reacted impressively to turn away Leon Osman’s deflected shot. The Wigan keeper was at full stretch to repel another deflection, from Kevin Mirallas, and was thankful his near post frustrated Baines.
Everton’s task might have been even more demanding when Fellaini was penalised for catching Maynor Figueroa in the face with an arm but referee Friend only brandished a yellow card.
Everton re-emerged for the second half with Sylvain Distin in place of Heitinga. Twice in as many minutes Mirallas might have reflected Everton’s renewed sense of purpose. He blazed over from Baines’s service, then again brought the best out of Al Habsi.
Phil Jagielka’s crucial tackle denied Kone and Al Habsi responded once more to save from Pienaar. Jelavic was about to pull the trigger when Figueroa pounced and Everton screamed in vain for a penalty.
But Figueroa and Wigan couldn’t survive a second appeal, the defender clearly bringing down Mirallas, and Baines lifted the spot-kick high into Al Habsi’s net.
Maloney almost plundered a winner, but this was a match neither team deserved to lose.
Everton manager David Moyes singled out left-back Leighton Baines for special praise after his nerveless 88th-minute penalty handed the Toffees a share of the points in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Wigan.
Moyes' men had been frustrated in their bid to force their way back into the match after first-half goals from Arouna Kone and Franco Di Santo sandwiched a Nikica Jelavic effort to give the Latics the lead at the break.
But Baines slammed the late spot-kick high past Ali Al Habsi, following Maynor Figueroa's foul on Kevin Mirallas, to give the visitors a point that boss Moyes insisted was the least they deserved for their efforts.
Moyes said: 'Leighton's penalty was fantastic and his performance was up there as good as anything.
'We needed it and he drove us on, and we showed great character because we weren't getting a lot of decisions going for us.'
Moyes was particularly critical of Kone's early opener, which he claimed was offside, and said Jelavic should also have had a late penalty when he scuffed his shot under a stretching challenge from Figueroa.
Moyes said: 'Their first goal was definitely half a yard offside and the linesman was nowhere in line with the ball.
'And Jelavic is definitely a penalty so I think we've had a really rough day and what we got today we earned.
'We thoroughly deserved the point, no doubt about that. We played really well in the second half and kept having a go at them, and Kevin Mirallas had a great chance.
'They did what I asked in the second half to make sure we got something out of the game.'
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez admitted the manner of Everton's late leveller was 'hard to take', but said he had no complaints with either the penalty decision or the earlier booking of Marouane Fellaini for an apparent elbow on Figueroa.
Martinez said: 'These calls are difficult for referees and from where I was it looked like he came across with his arm.
'If the referee was not certain then I think a yellow card was the right call because you can't gamble on a red card.'
Martinez paid tribute to both sides for an absorbing encounter, but admitted defensive sloppiness had cost his side the victory as Everton continued to push forward in search of a second-half equaliser.
Martinez added: 'We started better in the first half and Everton came back and had a strong second half as you would expect.
'They played with real tempo and intensity and they are a group of players with very good momentum.
'But we're the home side and I'd say we should have defended better to get the three points.
'My only disappointment is that the first goal is too soft. We need to learn to defend better in terms of concentration and intensity. But I'm pleased with the performance.
'The link-up play between the front three was a joy to watch and we scored two goals with great pieces of football. But we needed that two-goal cushion - and we needed to do other things better to take the points.'
MAROUANE FELLAINI has praised David Moyes and says high-flying Everton are “like a family”.
The Belgium midfielder, 24, who had suggested while on international duty last month he may leave as soon as January, now insists he is happy at Goodison Park.
He said: “With him (Moyes) you work very hard.
“He is very demanding but very close to his players too. Everton is just like a family.”
JOHN HEITINGA is ready to sign a new four-year deal at Everton.
The defender, 28, who nearly left in the summer, said: “I’ve begun to get used to things here.”