Everton 2-0 QPR
Everton maintained the pressure on the three London teams above them in the table, with a measured 2-0 win over Championship bound QPR and it was Victor Anichebe who was the darling of the Goodison crowd yet again, with another performance of power, hardwork and a this time, a goal-scoring touch.
This win wasn’t just about Anichebe. Darron Gibson had a superb game in the midfield, tirelessly covering every blade of the Goodison grass to ensure QPR were unable to take a foothold in a game they had to win to stand a realistic chance of survival. Kevin Mirallas tricked his way past the despairing Rangers full backs on numerous occasions and Seamus Coleman produced a solid defensive performance to increase his burgeoning reputation as a right back. And in a week when David Moyes has spoken of a rebuilding job at Everton, as he or his successor look to bring the average age of the squad down, it was pleasing to see such mature performances from 4 players, all 25 years old or younger.
Everton could and should have won by more, with a number of excellent chances created in a second half the Blues totally dominated. But in truth, the first half was a much tighter affair, and it took a deflected shot from Darron Gibson just short of the 40 minute mark to shatter QPR’s fragile confidence. With the Goodison crowd bellowing at Gibson to have a shot, the Irishman duly delivered, shooting from 25 yards towards the bottom left corner of the Park End goal, only for the ball to ricochet off the knees of Clint Hill and nestle in the opposite side of the net. With Everton in the lead, there was only ever going to one winner, and the only surprise was how long it took the Blues to score the second.
Everton started the second half at a fantastic tempo and the QPR defence was rocking. Anichebe should have scored much earlier, but a brilliant finger tipped save from Julio Cesar deflected the ball onto the post before the ball was cleared off the line by Bosingwa. Further opportunities came and went, with Julio Cesar denying both Mirallas and Distin with acrobatic stops. When the goal did arrive on the hour mark, it was Anichebe who celebrated. A Distin header from a corner was flicked home by the Nigerian, giving the keeper no chance, and sealing Everton’s victory.
Arsenal are next up for the Blues, with a trip to North London on Tuesday evening. A win would put Everton firmly in the hunt for Champions League football, but a draw would maintain the pressure on the teams above, all of whom have difficult games to finish the season.