Distin sees red as Toffees fail to land knockout punch

Everton 2 Sportin Lisbon 1

What ought to have been a comfortable night in the Europa League for Everton was overshadowed first by the news that Marouane Fellaini will miss the rest of the season with injury and was followed by the dismissal of Sylvain Distin and the conceding of what might be a critical away goal.

It is, however, the loss of his big Belgian midfielder with an ankle ligament injury sustained in the Merseyside derby that would have concerned David Moyes most. Although Liverpool's Greek defender, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, was dismissed when he and Fellaini clashed at Anfield earlier in the month, it is the latter who has suffered more.

"Fellaini has an injury similar to Robin van Persie's and that will keep him out for six months, although we are not sure how long until he has the operation," his manager said last night, adding that a calf strain has made Tim Cahill doubtful for Saturday's encounter with Manchester United.

"He has been a big miss already," Moyes said of Fellaini. "But it was a seriously bad tackle [from Kyrgiakos]. We are not down, we are just disappointed because we should have seen this game out. We have given Sporting Lisbon an opportunity they looked like they would not be getting. I could not see them scoring."

Despite the kind of kick-off time not seen in English football since power cuts imposed by the three-day week saw FA Cup replays begin on midweek afternoons, the crowd was only slightly down on the 30,000 who had watched Benfica bewitch Goodison in the group stages. And the home side's performance was considerably up.

Nevertheless, before kick-off, Moyes had talked of how Everton had matured in their approach to Europe since 2005 when they were eliminated from the Champions League and then the Uefa Cup in a matter of weeks. They are more patient now; more aware of what an away goal meant.

Yesterday as the contest drew towards its conclusion, Moyes thought his players were torn between killing the tie and the need to protect their lead. In the event, they did neither.

Four minutes from the end of a contest Everton had largely controlled, Distin struggled to control what Moyes thought was a dreadful pass from Jack Rodwell and allowed himself to be dispossessed by Sporting's centre forward, Liedson. In trying to recover he brought the Brazilian down for which he was shown a red card. From the penalty spot, Miguel Veloso threw the tie back into the balance.

As far as Sporting were concerned, it was rough justice. They were convinced that, three minutes after the interval, Distin had handled as he deflected a corner from Leighton Baines after the Sporting keeper, Rui Patricio, flapped horribly. Certainly, the Frenchman looked embarrassed and Sporting's manager, Carlos Carvalhal, wondered why Everton's first goal was replayed three times while the second was not shown at all.

It might have been because it was such a beautifully conceived and executed move. Cahill seized on a neat pass from Phil Neville and back-heeled it into Steven Pienaar's path, who finished just as he was being tackled. It was the kind of dominance that was never quite built upon.

Carvalhal said that after a sequence of defeats that left Sporting 21 points off the lead in Portugal, they had come to Merseyside "bleeding". Although Marat Izmailov struck the post before the interval, Everton had done enough to deliver a fatal blow but when they return to Lisbon they will find opponents alive, kicking and ready for a fight.

Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Donovan, Osman, Arteta (Rodwell, 79), Pienaar; Cahill (Yakubu, 62); Saha (Bilyaletdinov, 83). Substitutes not used: Nash (g), Vaughan, Gosling, Coleman.

Sporting Lisbon (4-2-3-1): Rui Patricio; Abel, Tonel, Carrico, Grimi; Mendes, Veloso; Izmailov, Fernandez (Saleiro, 66), Moutinho (Djalo, 66); Liedson. Substitutes not used: Tiago (g), Poiga, Silva, Vukcevic, Pereirinha.

Referee: D Ceferin (Slovenia).

Blow for Everton: Fellaini out for six months

The Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini is likely to be out for six months because of an ankle injury, the Everton manager David Moyes conceded last night.

He sustained the injury after a two-footed challenge from Liverpool's Sotiris Kyrgiakos earned the Greek defender a red card during the Merseyside derby at Anfield on 6 February.

Fellaini, distinctive for his huge Afro hairstyle, escaped censure from referee Martin Atkinson after his own studs-up tackle on Kyrgiakos in the same incident. "He [Fellaini] is not good. He's going to have an operation," Moyes said ahead of his side's 2-1 Europa League game victory at home to Sporting Lisbon.

"He's got a similar injury to Robin van Persie and it's probably going to keep him out for six months."

Arsenal's Dutch striker Van Persie has not played since November after rupturing ankle ligaments while on international duty in a match against Italy.

Fellaini, a £15m signing from Standard Liege, has been in impressive form for Everton this season and his loss is a cruel blow to the club who have only just welcomed back Mikel Arteta from a long-term injury.

News
i100
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Sport
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis