Norwich City 2-2 Everton
Everton failed to turn possession into victory as the Roberto Martinez era began with a point apiece at Carrow Road. The Blues who made the journey to Norfolk were treated to an entertaining game, but despite a quite brilliant goal from the prestigious Ross Barkley, Everton were unable to find a third goal which would have brought three precious points.
Although the Blues failed to win the first game of his tenure, Martinez will have plenty of positives to reflect on over the next few days. The squad looked at ease with the new playing style, moving the ball well and completing a high number of passes. Everton dominated possession and looked dangerous in attack and on another day, with a little bit more fortune, would have been victorious. Marouane Fellaini put any talk of a move away from the club to one side to produce a dominant performance in midfield, although it was the brilliant Ross Barkley who stole all the headlines.
More than any other player, Ross Barkley seems to be relishing the change in manager at Everton. Martinez has placed his trust in the young Evertonian and the Liverpool born youngster has repaid that faith by starting to fulfil his huge potential. Barkley, operating in his preferred role just behind the centre forward, at the peak of the midfield triangle, was given licence to thrill and after a couple of sighters in the opening hour, produced a blistering drive past ex-Everton keeper John Ruddy to bring Everton level.
The Blues had gone behind just a few minutes earlier after some poor defending let in Steven Whitaker to give Norwich the lead. Reminiscent of the final 12 months of David Moyes’ time in charge, the Blues were culpable from front to back, with the Canaries defender allowed to run from the half away line with very little challenge. Leighton Baines was the first to put in a half hearted tackle and when the ball broke kindly for the Norwich defender he was able to drift past Fellaini unchallenged before scoring at the second attempt after his first shot rebounded off the post. Martinez will have been disappointed at the nature of the goal, but delighted with the response, which saw Everton take the lead within 10 minutes of going behind.
Barkley’s first competitive goal, the Everton equaliser gave the Blues a massive lift and for a spell Martinez’ men were rampant. Everton surged forward and took a deserved lead when a shot from the lively Jelavic fell kindly for Seamus Coleman to fire home. The goal was the result of some typically good play from Everton, with Pienaar releasing Jelavic with a cleaver through ball. The Croatian shot instantly goal-bound, only to see his drive parried by Ruddy and into the path of Everton’s Irish right back to send the travelling Toffees delirious.
Unbelievably Norwich hit back after receiving another huge slice of good fortune. Whitaker was again involved, attempting to volley a looping ball towards goal, the Scot sliced his effort terribly. Unfortunately for the Everton defence his sliced effort fell perfectly for record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel to head brilliantly passed a despairing Tim Howard.
Two apiece was the final score, but Norwich had to withstand a final onslaught from Everton as Martinez kept his players moving positively forward until the dying moments. In truth second half substitute Steven Naismith should have scored a winner as should have Jelavic, but both attempts were bravely blocked by the home defence.
Everton will see this as two points dropped, but it is one point more than they achieved in the same fixture last year and they will now return to Goodison for two fixtures, firstly against West Brom before Stevange visit in the Capital One Cup.