English Premiership

Everton's Euro bid on track

2013-04-27 19:37
Steven Pienaar (Getty)

Liverpool - Everton remain firmly in the hunt to secure a place in Europe next season after South Africa midfielder Steven Pienaar inspired his side's 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday.

Pienaar struck early in the first half at Goodison Park and that was enough to see off the lacklustre Cottagers and keep Everton in contention for both the Champions League and Europa League berths.

A spot in the second-tier Europa League is the more likely scenario for David Moyes' men as they are three points behind fourth placed Chelsea, who have two games in hand in the battle for Champions League qualification.

Fulham had lost their previous 19 league visits to Goodison Park and the way Martin Jol's side played for long periods suggested they knew it would be another fruitless exercise.

Their supporters clearly had little hope that the barren run would end as only a couple of hundred made the trip to Merseyside.

Everton were on top from the start as Marouane Fellaini's early header was saved by goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The decisive moment arrived in the 16th minute when Kevin Mirallas and Leon Osman combined to play in Seamus Coleman close to the byline and he cut the ball back to the penalty spot where Pienaar ran in unchallenged to side-foot home.

Since his return to Everton from Tottenham the South African has now scored 10 goals in 46 league matches.

Victor Anichebe looped a long-range header wide for Everton as the hosts kept pressing, while Fulham suffered a blow when former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov limped off injured.

Fellaini had Everton's two best chances before half-time, curling one effort wide after neat interplay by Pienaar and Nikica Jelavic, before Anichebe blocked his goalbound effort.

Fulham improved in the second half, but Urby Emanuelson should have hit the target from Alex Kacaniklic's cross 10 minutes after the interval.

Mirallas drew a fine save from Australian international Schwarzer after flicking the ball over Stanislav Manolev.

Fellaini could have wrapped up victory five minutes from time but somehow bundled over Leighton Baines' cross from close range while substitute Ross Barkley forced a good save from Schwarzer when put clean through in stoppage-time.

Read more on:    everton  |  epl  |  steven pienaar  |  soccer

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