Football: Everton lose dignity

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The Independent Online
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THE thunder and lightning that has rumbled and flashed during Graeme Souness's sojourn at neighbouring Anfield has tended to obscure the fact that a deepening depression has settled over Goodison Park. The only rumbling heard there yesterday was the boos and catcalls of a support whose patience is wearing pretty threadbare.

The reasons for the despair were bared for all to see as Rangers provided a footballing object lesson. This was an Everton side bereft of wit and imagination, unable to respond to the desperate graft with which the likes of Dave Watson tried to lift them. Even two early careless back-passes by the visitors went unpunished. And there were to be precious few other chances that came Everton's way.

The graceful ease with which Les Ferdinand outjumped the home defence in the eighth minute must have been ominous as the Rangers' striker scored a hat-trick here last season. But it was to be his diligent partner Bradley Allen who was the executioner on this day. In the 26th minute Trevor Sinclair headed Bardsley's deep cross back to Allen, who jockeyed cleverly to create the space for a shot which sped low past Neville Southall. Five minutes after the restart, and after Peter Beagrie had tingled Jan Stejskal's fingers from 15 yards, Allen struck again. Sinclair's run through the centre ended with a shot that clattered back into play off Southall's left- hand post and Allen scooped home the rebound.

That virtually ended the game as a contest although the Everton manager Howard Kendall's response in immediately replacing Beagrie and Predrag Radosavljevic with Barry Horne and Graham Stuart threatened to bring some purpose into Everton's endeavours - but not for long.

Rangers played out the last 20 minutes in total control, passing the ball intelligently to feet as Everton huffed and puffed in a vain attempt to retain some footballing dignity. The final part of the lesson came seven minutes from time when Allen controlled Bardsley's cross 12 yards out and poked his third goal beyond the reach of Southall.

And it could have been worse. In the last minute Ferdinand burst through a rock of defenders 30 yards from goal, sprinted down on the unprotected Southall only to lift his shot over the bar.

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