Chelsea survived several
tricky moments in an error-strewn first half to produce
a gutsy win at Goodison Park with a single second-half
goal from Adrian Mutu.
This was a bustling game that lacked quality until Chelsea
exerted a measure of control in the second period and
began to open the home side up with some neat interaction
through the middle and down either flank. Everton, for
their part, need to learn how to score a goal, the three
strikers today – Rooney, Radzinski and Jeffers – all squandering
good chances to score.
Radzinski’s came in the first minute, when he evaded the
sprawling John Terry but, one-on-one with Carlo Cudicini,
steered wide. The Italian goalkeeper was at fault for
Rooney’s best opening, stroking the ball to him under
a challenge from Radzinski, but the youngster got his
angles all wrong – the story of his afternoon.
Substitute Jeffers’s chance of a late equalising header
at close range came from Naysmith’s far post cross, but
he could not find the target, to the frustration of the
Early in the game Alex Nyarko, fully returned to favour
following his well-publicised clash with a home fan, also
rattled the bar with a stinger from 35 yards.
As a result it was a mixed afternoon for Chelsea. Hard-working
but fitful in the first 45, we still created goalscoring
opportunities with regularity, with Joe Cole and Mutu
the standout performers. The Romanian, who had shot directly
at Martin’s goal from the kick-off, always looked a danger
and showed excellent technique to pick up Lampard’s lofted
pass on the volley and shoot just over.
With ten minutes to go the best move of the match – Geremi
releasing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, on to Mutu who cut
back for Cole to beat Martin but also the far post.
An excellent weaving run from the midfielder ended in
him tumbling in the box, but referee Jeff Winter saw no
infringement. The Chelsea goal came shortly after Cudicini
had amended for his earlier mistake with a superb close-range
save from the twisting Radzinski. Chelsea turned defence
to attack swiftly, Mutu feeding the prowling Geremi down
the right, and breaking swiftly to meet the Cameroonian’s
enticing cross with his head at the far post. It was his
sixth strike of the season.
“Chim-chimeney, chim-chimeney, chim-chim cheroo, who needs
Wayne Rooney when we’ve got Mutu,” crowed the Chelsea
fans gathered in one corner.
Now the confidence of a team at the top began to tell.
William Gallas – more assured alongside the imperious
John Terry at the back – went on a delightful weaving
run through three Everton players.
Geremi combined superbly with Hasselbaink but chose to
pass when through on Martin with a great chance from the
Dutchman’s clever pass. Lampard’s shot was blocked. All
across the pitch there were good combinations and excellent
Just past the hour David Moyes attempted to change the
course of the game by introducing Jeffers and McFadden
for the fading Radzinski and anonymous Linderoth.
Still Chelsea looked more likely to score a second. A
deflected Lampard shot was easily gathered by Martin,
but the keeper was nowhere when Wayne Bridge’s hooked
cross just eluded Hasselbaink at the far post.
Damien Duff replaced the tiring Mutu and shortly after
that Gudjohnsen stepped in for man of the match Cole.
Aside from Jeffers’s aberration, there were good openings
for the tireless Geremi and Hasselbaink, who slipped as
he lined up a 20-yard scorcher.
Then in the dying seconds Cudicini saved superbly again
from Gravesen, Terry slipping as the Dane tried to make
the most of a lucky break of the ball on the edge of the