News24

Everton held 0-0 by Wigan

2010-12-11 19:38

Liverpool - Everton's woes mounted at Goodison Park where a goalless draw with struggling Wigan left David Moyes' team without a victory in seven league games and rooted firmly at the wrong end of the Premier League table.

Despite enjoying a vast superiority in possession and chances, Everton were unable to find a way past Wigan's Oman international goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and a sequence of two victories from nine home league games to date is cause for concern.

Everton set the tone for a dominant first-half performance inside the opening minute as Phil Jagielka's long pass forward found Tim Cahill who showed superb control to take the ball on his chest but whose shot lacked the necessary power to test Al-Hasbi in the Wigan goal.

England left-back Leighton Baines, in particular, was a constant threat, particularly from set-pieces, and an early free-kick forced Al-Habsi into an important punch to clear from a crowded area.

Midfielder Steven Pienaar, also, began to exert some influence on proceedings with his sixth minute cross almost finding Louis Saha who came within inches of connecting with a diving header.

Another Baines free-kick found the head of Marouane Fellaini who jumped well but cleared the crossbar with his header while Saha did likewise, this time from a Pienaar cross.

But, given Everton's current plight - a pre-match standing just two points above the relegation places -- as they failed to find the first goal, tension began to build among their supporters.

Yet another Baines dead ball, just after the half hour, presented another chance as Fellaini headed across goal for Jack Rodwell to steer his own headed attempt goalwards and Ben Watson to clear off the line.

Finally, in the closing minutes of the first half, Fellaini showed neat footwork inside the Wigan area and steered a low, cross-shot towards the far post, the ball evading Saha's lunge and the net by a matter of inches.

Respite for Wigan was only sporadic with Hugo Rodallega glancing a header just wide from a Hendry Thomas cross and the lively Charles N'Zogbia delivering a stunning low cross into the area which was missed by friend and foe alike.

The pattern continued after the interval, with Pienaar's wicked 30-yard shot forcing the first real save of the game, from Al-Habsi at the foot of his right-hand post.

A Baines cross from the left found Jagielka at the near post and his unorthodox back heel flick was well saved again by the Wigan goalkeeper.

Everton were gathering momentum and, in an astonishing passage of play, created four golden chances inside the space of one minute.

Pienaar produced the best pass of the match to play Saha clean through but the Frenchman shot directly at Al-Habsi, before Cahill headed a Baines cross against the Wigan post.

Then Pienaar sent Seamus Coleman racing clear only for the youngster to be denied by the outstretched egs of Al-Habsi. Finally, Pienaar himself had a shooting opportunity but hurried his effort high and wide.

There were moments of concern for the home team as Jagielka blocked Mohamed Diame close to goal and Tim Howard dived sharply to smother Rodallega's long-range shot.

Al-Habsi was again impressive in keeping out a shot from substitute Jermaine Beckford and Rodwell's effort from the edge of the area cleared the Wigan post by a narrow margin.

Everton might, in fact, have paid for their profligacy and it took a fine diving save from Howard to deny Ronnie Stam in the last minute of normal time.


AFP