A magical display from 10 man Everton overcome Londoners Chelsea on the final day of the season thanks to a wonder strike from Jermaine Beckford.
Despite being written off before the game, Everton brushed away the disappointment of West Bromwich Albion to command a majestic performance to send the Goodison faithful off in the summer in high spirits.
Everton started the game brightly, pressing high up the pitch with both Baines and Hibbert pushing up to negate the wide threat of Chelsea through the likes of Malouda and Cole. Indeed, we give the illustrious visitors something to think about instead.
The first chance came to Everton, as the effervescent Leon Osman threaded through for the diagonal run of Jack Rodwell on the right, but his cross-come-shot was deflected out for a corner. Arteta, often bemoaned for his poor set-piece delivery this season, delivered a peach of a ball straight onto the head of a leaping Phil Jagielka six yards out, centre of goal, but his cushioned header found the face of the crossbar and bounced clear – much to the relief of a beaten Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal.
The Toffees continued to pressure the Londoners, with a ball won in midfield and a pass to feet for Jermaine Beckford allowing the ex-Leeds man to cut on to his right foot and attempt a curl towards the top corner from outside the area. Sadly, he misjudged it, and it sailed over the bar.
Tony Hibbert shown a lot more adventure down the right than we´re used to in the early stages – especially considering he was up against such an attacking full-back in Cole. Early in the first half he curled a delicious cross towards the near post, which Beckford attacked well but Cech claimed with confidence.
A more traditional provider from wide areas created Evertons next chance. A free-kick for Leighton Baines was incurled wickedly into the area, plum on the penalty spot, and only desperate defending from Chelsea prevented a glorious chance for the onrushing Beckford.
Everton continued to come on and earned their best chance of the first half when a hitherto quiet Seamus Coleman dived into the box from an inside right position, one on one with Cech, but the Irishman delayed his shot, took too long to pull the trigger and was blocked away at the second attempt. The attack led to the big moment of controversy in the first half.
Leon Osman ghosted in between Alex and Ivanovic, got the touch on the ball, was tugged back by his shirt by Ivanovic whilst the big Brazilian Alex lunged in from behind. The Everton faithful screamed for a penalty as Osman made a furious claim to the referee – however, nothing doing, as Peter Walton waved it away.
Chelsea came back into the game eventually, thanks to a lively Nicolas Anelka up front. His intelligent running, combined with some better hold up play from the likes of Torres and Lampard, allowed a foothold further up the pitch for the ex-Champions. But they still failed to conjure a substantial effort on Tim Howards goal – rather they were limited to hopeful crosses from the right via Ivanovic, or long range potshots from Cole and Lampard.
Sylvain Distin came to the rescue when Chelsea finally had their first sight on goal. Anelka rushed onto a sliderule pass, but the Frenchman was denied by our very own Frenchman Distin with a wonderful sliding block.
Anelka had Chelsea´s only other decent effort on goal in the first period, but Tim Howard was more than equal to the task, calmly parrying away a rasping effort from range.
The second half started much the same. Baines continued to terrorise down the left as Everton pushed on, with Chelsea looking dangerous on the counter.
Unfortunately, Everton were to fall victim to terrible refereeing from Peter Walton.
He booked Baines and Coleman on the hour mark in quick succession, before sending off Seamus for what he perceived to be a lunge on Jon-Obi Mikel. Replays shown the challenge to be fair, but the Nigerian milked it for all it´s worth whilst Chelsea players surrounded the referee, who bowed to the pressure and dismissed the Irish wonderkid.
The Everton fans gave the youngster a standing ovation for a wonderful season as he walked down the tunnel. The Everton players responded to the injustice wonderfully, with a long ball from Hibbert finding the run of Beckford, who jinked past Alex, found himself one on one with Cech, but fired straight at the legs of the ´keeper. Thankfully, a strong effort from John Terry shortly after hit the post and bounced clear.
Everton kept on coming, with Osman and Arteta continuing to combine well in the middle, finding the runs of Beckford, Rodwell and Baines time and time again. The constant Everton pressure earned several set pieces, which Chelsea dealt with well.
Arteta went very close himself on 66 minutes. A headed clearance by Alex found the feet of Arteta, who took a touch and let rip with a fizzing effort that drifted wide of the right post.
One minute later, Everton fans had another reason to complain about the official, as Alex blocked off Beckford. It should have been a second yellow, but Walton handed out a mere warning. Moments later, he failed to book Ivanovic for a shoulder barge on Arteta, much to the anger of the Everton crowd.
However, all of that ill-will disappeared after a moment of pure magic from Jermaine Beckford – surely a contender for goal of the season.
Nothing had gone the way of the ex-Leeds man all day, as he spurned chance after chance. However, with 15 minutes to go, he picked the ball up on the edge of his own area and began running at Chelsea players. He beat one, ghosted between two, beat another two, got a bit of luck with a ricochet off a defenders leg on the halfway line, but ran on to the ball, bore down on Cech one on one, and calmly clipped the ball into the back of the net, sending Goodison Park wild.
Everton dropped deep for the majority of the last fifteen minutes after that, with Distin displaying heart and character to repel Chelsea time and time again. Ultimately, the three points went the way of Everton.
7th place, and a result that will give Evertonians heart as we head into another long summer.