Football: Zola's showing offers hope
Chelsea 3 Everton 1 Zola 25, 81, Petrescu 60 Jeffers 69 Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 34,909
Sunday 02 May 1999
Reports of Everton's better health seem exaggerated. They rarely threatened and are still not mathematically clear of the threat of relegation.
Following three successive draws which, according to their manager Gianluca Vialli, had put them out of the running for the title, Chelsea were due a crowd-lifting performance. Using their "terrier squad" of the diminutive Zola, Dennis Wise and Jody Morris as the fulcrum, Chelsea dominated the midfield and overran the Everton defence in a one-sided opening 45 minutes.
With Tore Andre Flo given a place on the bench after his midweek two- goal performance for Norway, the red-headed Mikael Forssell was given a chance up front and he profited from the stream of openings provided by his midfield.
Forssell caught Craig Short in possession early on to put Everton in deep trouble but Zola overran the ball as he closed in for a shot. Within a minute the Italian conjured a Wise pass on to his left foot and bent it just wide. With all the space he needed, Graeme Le Saux was foraging away down the left to get in crosses, though he tended to put too much welly into the efforts. But one run, set in motion by Zola's canny ball, saw Le Saux's centre reach Wise, whose shot was deflected by an Everton boot out of the reach of Thomas Mhyre but over the bar.
Then, with Everton pulling everybody back to the barricades, Zola netted but the linesman's flag was raised for offside. Then Gustavo Poyet's header glanced wide from an Albert Ferrer cross as Chelsea gained a succession of corners.
The inevitable goal arrived in the 25th minute, started by Le Saux's rampaging. The full-back exchanged passes with Forssell before making ground down the left. This time the cross was perfectly flighted for Zola to lift his total of goals for the season to 14 with a downward header.
It should have been 2-0 a couple of minutes later. Great work by Morris allowed Wise to slide a glorious through-ball to Dan Petrescu who delayed his effort long enough to permit Mhyre to make a smothering save.
Everton belatedly cheered their raucous following when the captain, Don Hutchison, found Francis Jeffers but the cross-shot was poorly directed.
However, Everton ended the half under siege, with Richard Dunne's crucial intervention blocking Zola and then David Weir heading away from his own line.
Chelsea picked up after the interval where they had left off and Petrescu was guilty of another miss when Zola's cross found him alone in front of goal but his attempt at a header failed to connect. Proof that Chelsea, despite their domination, could not afford to cast away chances was forthcoming when Jeffers found space for a shot which flew narrowly wide of De Goey's right-hand upright.
But the security Chelsea sought became available just after the hour. Franck Leboeuf strode through from the midfield and let fly with a drive so powerful Mhyre was glad to beat it away.
Unfortunately for the Everton keeper the ball rolled only as far as Zola. The Italian returned it into the goal area where Petrescu, at full stretch, this time managed to make a connection. In fact, Petrescu overstretched, and was withdrawn at once with what looked like a groin strain, to be replaced by Bjarne Goldbaek.
With 20 minutes left Jeffers lifted his side's hopes of the point. He was allowed to run through from virtually the halfway line and drove a left-foot shot low which left De Goey stranded.
Chelsea moved up a gear. Forssell allowed Myhre time to block after an enterprising run had carried him clear, then Unsworth saved Everton with a fine blocking tackle as the substitute Bernard Lambourde came storming through.
But there was no halting Chelsea. Another free-kick was won and this time Zola took it, striking it sweetly into the top left-hand corner of Mhyre's net.
Latest in Sport
Daniel Sturridge injury: Alongside Luis Suarez, how the Liverpool SAS may FAIL to become the most lethal partnership in Premier League history
CM Punk's WWE future 'to be determined' according to leaked Monday Night Raw script
Liverpool: Four remaining fixtures - can they stay top of the Premier League table?
Diego Costa transfer to Chelsea impossible to stop, admits Diego Simeone
Barcelona 1 Real Madrid 2 match report: Gareth Bale scores wonder goal to claim Copa del Rey for Real
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for sale...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Big Bang Theory to get special Star Wars episode with help from Lucasfilm
- 3 Babies cry at night to stop mothers procreating, scientists claim
- 4 Pharrell Williams 'Happy': British Muslims dance to song in video
- 5 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...