Tim Howard has joked that his facial fur helped him deny Christian Benteke from the penalty spot at Villa Park on Saturday.
The Blues goalkeeper, who has recently been sporting a sizeable beard, pulled off one of the saves of the season to date when tipping the Belgian striker’s 12-yard effort up and over the crossbar.
Howard’s bristles have since earned him the ‘Beard of Autumn’ award , where he pipped Newsnight anchorman Jeremy Paxman and Hairy Biker presenter Dave Myers to the accolade.
Talking evertontv through his heroics against Aston Villa, Howard joked: “I think I’ve gained most of my strength from it [the beard].”
Offering a more serious account, the American also explained: “Benteke is a strong boy and very powerful so I thought he might go to the right. For a right-footer, that’s his power side.
“To be honest, I didn’t get it quite right as he went high but I got a little bit of luck, reacted and kept it out.”
Howard’s penalty save understandably grabbed the headlines in the Sunday morning papers, but it was just one of a string of fine stops made by the former Manchester United man.
He thwarted Benteke again before half-time and also produced decent blocks from Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor.
“You are always trying to do your part as a goalkeeper and you don’t get many games like that,” Howard added. “For me, I’ve been around the block a time or two so when you perform like that you try and savour it.
“The best thing was that we got a clean sheet and the three points because it really keeps us on a good run. I’ve been in these kind of games when you concede one, two or maybe three and you are just trying to limit the damage and you go home with your tail between your legs.
“It’s never as easy as it looks but it was a good performance.”
Howard also heaped praise on defensive duo Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka who again turned in full-bloodied showings to earn Everton their fourth clean sheet of the Premier League season.
“Everyone knows how I feel about Sylvain and Jags. They are mountains for me and I’ve had success because of those two guys,” he declared.
“Once again they were immense. Nothing got past them - they were strong in the air and they orchestrated and conducted things at the back. Every week it is a pleasure to play with them.”
Can Howard keep another clean sheet this Sunday against Tottenham Hotspur? Be at Goodison to find out!
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