Everton 3 – 6 Chelsea
With Romelu Lukaku facing his old side for the first time, and Samuel Eto’o raring to go from the bench, hopes were high at Goodison Park of a repeat of last season’s win over the Londoners that kick started a charge for European football. In the end, we were left wondering what exactly had happened as we drifted out of the stadium.
Within two minutes Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovich had fired the visitors into a two goal lead that left everyone dazed. The Blues shook their heads and should have halved the deficit when Sylvain Distin needlessly followed in Lukaku’s header after it had cannoned off the bar and the back of the Chelsea keeper. The ball was clearly heading over the line anyway, but Distin’s touch gave Chelsea a let off.
Instead it was Kevin Mirallas who sent the sides in at 2-1 with a glorious header just before the break. Aiden McGeady played a beautiful ball to Seamus Coleman on the right and the Irish defenders cross was neatly headed into the back of the Park End net. There was still belief.
For twenty minutes in the second half Everton looked as though they had more goals in them, and they did. But they also had a calamitous time in defence.
Coleman, usually so effective at right back has now been outdone twice by left wingers in the last two games, and it was Eden Hazard who benefited this time out. Standing off his man, Hazard ghosted into the box and hit a hopeful ball across the goal which bounced off Coleman and through Howard’s legs.
Less than 90 seconds later, however, Steven Naismith scored his third goal in three games as he scored from Aiden McGeady’s pass after Lukaku had taken three defenders out of the game with a clever run. Game on.
Then the calamities started. Matic was afforded an acre of space and far too much time on the edge of the Everton box by Jageilka and Distin before his shot deflected up and over Tim Howard to make it 4-2.
Substitute Eto’o brought it back to 4-3 just a couple of minutes later but his lack of celebration was more out of a sense of what was to come than respect for the Chelsea fans who had booed him onto the pitch.
A fifth from Ramires put paid to any come back hopes and Diego Costa – lucky to be on the pitch after his ridiculous antics with Seamus Coleman earlier in the second half – made it 6-3 on 90 minutes.
Everton’s defence has always been so reliable over the last decade, but after being used by the national media as a scapegoat for England’s failings at the World Cup in Brazil, Phil Jagielka has lost his head and needs time and space to find it again. Time and space is something he won’t be afforded in the Premier League, and when John Stones and Antolin Alcaraz are worthy replacements, he needs dropping when he returns from international duty.