Everton 2 Fulham 1
Fulham crashed to a last gasp defeat at Goodison Park this afternoon after leading at half time.
For this fixture (Sir) Roy Hodgson didn`t pull any punches as to where his ambitions lie - the Europa League, with the starting line up missing Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Duff, Etuhu, Murphy, Zamora and Gera, in fact only Schwarzer and Baird started in Hamburg last Thursday. Controversial stuff Roy! I wonder if we`ll smoke out any complaints this time about not fielding a strongest eleven!
Coming in were the returning from injury John Pantsil (who isn`t eligible for the Europa League, Shorey, Smalling, Riise, Greening, Dikgacoi, Okaka and Nevland.
On the bench were, basically, what was left of the squad!
With Fulham fielding a scratch eleven it came as no surprise that they took time to settle and Everton could have scored very early on after a cross from Hibbert was volleyed against the post by Bilyaletdinov.
Minutes later, Everton having all the possession, saw a penalty appeal turned down when Lee Mason refused to that Baird had contravened the rules when Pienaar tumbled over inside the box.
Everton continued to apply all the pressure and Cahill, from an Arteta cross, rose well only to head narrowly wide. Smalling then committed an error but Yakubu`s shot was well off target.
Fulham, on a rare forward excursion, earned a corner after Nevland saw a shot deflected behind for a corner. Back down the other end, Schwarzer, for once, lacked composure and Yakubu almost nicked the ball off of him.
After being under the hammer for most of the half, so far, Fulham had the temerity to take the lead through Erik Nevland. The goal coming after Baines committed an error allowing Nevland to nip in and score past a bewildered Howard who was waiting for the under-hit back pass.
Everton almost hit back straight away when Yakubu failed to convert a Cahill cross. Schwarzer was then forced into a comfortable save when Yakubu hit a weak shot along the floor.
As half time beckoned Fulham almost doubled their lead when Okaka lifted the ball over the Everton defence but Dempsey couldn`t keep his volley on target. Half time and Fulham lead.
Going into the second half leading, albeit a little fortunately, it didn`t take long for Everton to get back onto level terms, about four minutes to be precise.
The goal came from substitute Anichebe who headed past Schwarzer after Yakubu had acrobatically tried to convert a cross from Arteta. Minutes later our hosts were almost ahead when Cahill, once again, forced Schwarzer into a fine save from an Arteta corner.
The home support then screamed for a penalty after Shorey appeared to handle an Anichebe cross but once again the referee chose to ignore the vociferous claim.
As with the first half, any Fulham attacks were rare but hope of a second goal almost cam ewhen Dmepsey burst into the area but Baines atoned for his error in the first half to get a saving tackle in.
Three minutes later Fulham, still on the attack, had another chance when Nevland picked out Okaka but the striker shot straight at Howard in the Everton goal.
With the clock running down it appeared that Fulham had survived to take another point on Merseyside, especially when Saha headed a glorious chance wide but fate had a cruel trick to play on us.
With almost the last kick of the game Baird was adjudged to have fouled Cahill and Arteta stepped forward to blast the penalty home.