Saturday, 5 February 2011

Everton 5 Blackpool 3

Louis Saha grabbed four goals as Everton broke Blackpool's spirited resistance in a remarkable game.
The hosts dominated before the break and Saha stroked them ahead but Alex Baptiste's six-yard shot levelled it.
A neat near-post Saha effort made it 2-1 but Jason Puncheon's side-footed finish and Charlie Adam's measured header put the visitors ahead.
Saha headed home to level at 3-3 and he added his fourth on the break after sub Jermaine Beckford's fizzing volley.
It was a quite awesome match at a rain-soaked Goodison Park, full of incident, controversy and free-flowing, no-holds barred attacking football.
But the first 35 minutes threatened little of the excitement that followed as a strangely subdued Blackpool barely got out of their half.
Their attacking intent was once again on display as manager Ian Holloway opted for three up front, with DJ Campbell accompanied by full debutants James Beattie and Puncheon.
But their refreshing approach seemed to have been crushed by a run of six defeats in seven Premier League games and they struggled to get a kick.
Leighton Baines, Mikel Arteta and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov all wasted free-kicks from the edge of the area within the first 20 minutes as the hosts seized control.
Johnny Heitinga saw a fizzing shot beaten away by keeper Paul Rachubka, who was recalled at the expense of Richard Kingson, while Blackpool defender David Carney almost put through his own net after an unfortunate rebound.
Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell also both wasted good chances but Saha's calm 20th-minute finish after excellent work by Bilyaletdinov on the left looked like setting the platform for a routine win against an out-of sorts Blackpool.
But the game turned from pleasantly entertaining to jaw-droppingly exciting when Baptiste bundled the ball in the leveller after Ian Evatt's shot from an Adam corner rolled along the line.
Everton then had a goal ruled out in hugely controversial circumstances when referee Kevin Friend disallowed a Saha effort.
Friend blew up to penalise full-back David Carney for a tug on Seamus Coleman, and his whistle blew just as Saha was about to see his strike cross the line.
Everton boss David Moyes was rightly furious but Friend had no option - even though he must have known he had dropped a clanger of titanic proportions.
But what - at the time - seemed destined to be game's taking point, turned out to be largely insignificant after a breathless second half.
The refereeing team emerged to a chorus of boos after the break but Saha's second - after wonderful work and a pinpoint cross from Baines - seemed to get the hosts back on track.
Maybe the sense of injustice helped and Everton continued to press with Rachubka forced into a decent save to deny Bilyaletdinov after a cheeky Saha flick.
But Blackpool were a different side after the interval and their belief was restored after Puncheon drew them level following a smart pull-back from Beattie.
A sweeping counter-attack saw them forge ahead when Puncheon steamed forward and found Campbell. The striker fired a fine effort against the bar but Adam was on hand to head home.
Everton responded and piled forward in search of an equaliser.
Neal Eardley was forced to hack away a goalbound effort and Evatt made a stunning sprawling clearance to deny Rodwell after keeper Rachubka inexplicably came racing out of his goal.
But Everton, chasing only their sixth Premier League victory of the season, were not to be denied for long and a frantic final 15 minutes saw them wrap up a victory they thoroughly deserved.
Saha restored parity when he headed home from three yards following an Arteta corner and just six minutes from time Beckford smashed home a wonderful first-time volley from a teasing Baines centre.
And there was still time for French striker Saha to triple his league tally for the season when he ran half the length of the pitch and coolly finished past Rachubka.

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