Alarm bells start to ring for Everton

Hull City 3 Everton 2
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The Independent Football

It is one thing looking easy to beat at Old Trafford, as Everton were last Saturday, but this is a result and more to the point, first-half performance, which should really worry the blue half of Merseyside. While the manner in which they fought back after going in at half-time three down showed some spirit, it was Hull's nervousness as much as their own efforts which kept them in the game, and their supporters will not be relishing the prospect of the weekend's derby against Liverpool.

In his own quiet way, the Everton manager David Moyes laid into his players, questioning their effort."I don't think it was about confidence, it was about endeavour and attitude, which Hull showed, they ran around and it earned them something," Moyes said. "The first thing you do as a player is run around, and I have to take responsibility for getting them to do that."

Given how comfortable Everton looked in an opening eight minutes, few in the crowd would have anticipated the visitors would be three down before the half hour. The first goal, scored by Stephen Hunt, was a triumph of persistence, in that it was Hunt whose cross from the left either Sylvain Distin or Leighton Baines should have cleared. As it was they got in each other's way, the ball fell for Jozy Altidore, and though Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard saved, the rebound was driven home by Hunt, who had kept running into thearea.

Geovanni, playing up front alongside Altidore, was causing Everton's defenders all sorts of problems, and on 20 minutes the Brazilian was fouled by Joseph Yobo as he competed for a high ball 25 yards from goal. Up stepped left-back Andy Dawson to curl an exquisite shot into the top corner of Howard's net.

Hunt was also influential in creating City's third. The former Reading midfielder switched wings to put in a cross from the right that a stretching Distin could only turn into the path of Dean Marney. It was typical of how things were going for Everton that Tim Cahill's attempted block should succeed only in wrong-footing Howard.

Needing an early goal after the break, Everton got one in an unlikely manner, though it was not the first time in the game that Kamil Zayatte mis-kicked in his own penalty area. Unfortunately for City, this time his attempt to clear John Heitinga's cross spun into the corner of his own net.

Having already replaced Yakubu Aiyegbeni with Dan Gosling, Moyes sent on Jo for Jack Rodwell, and shortly after the hour his team got a second. Again Zayatte was to blame, his attempt to tackle Louis Saha as the Frenchman ran on to Cahill's lobbed through ball an obvious penalty. Saha converted, making it eight goals in 10 Premier League appearances this season.

Now Hull really did begin to look edgy, but Everton could not fashion another chance, Baines hitting a late free-kick into the wall. "A lot of people were getting nervous in the second half, but I still thought we had a grip on the game, they were reduced to pumping longballs into our penalty area," said the Hull manager, Phil Brown, who insisted Jimmy Bullard had been rested for precautionary reasons, the midfielder being nervous about playing two games in four days at an early stage in his comeback from long-term injury.

Hull City (4-4-2): Duke; McShane, Zayatte, Gardner, Dawson; Garcia (Barmby, 77), Boateng, Marney, Hunt; Altidore (Vennegoor of Hesselink, 75), Geovanni (Kilbane, 86). Substitutes not used: Myhill (gk), Mouyokolo, Ghilas, Cairney.

Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Neill, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Pienaar, Heitinga, Rodwell (Jo, 59), Cahill; Saha, Yakubu (Gosling 46). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Coleman, Duffy, Baxter.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

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