After 13 months and 33 matches without a goal for Everton, Tim Cahill was finally able to punch a corner flag in celebration, yet the Australian's joy at ending his barren run proved short-lived as his unwitting role in teeing up Blackburn Rovers' equaliser summed up another frustrating Goodison Park outing for David Moyes' men.
After scoring from close range in the first half, Cahill's attempted clearance inside the same six-yard box with 18 minutes remaining rebounded off the midriff of the onrushing Blackburn striker, David Goodwillie, and into the Gwladys Street net.
It was a messy goal that had an equally scruffy preamble as Tim Howard missed Morten Gamst Pedersen's dropping free-kick under pressure from Stephen Nzonzi and the ball deflected off Shane Duffy towards goal.
Moyes complained the goal should not have stood – suggesting Nzonzi was offside "and it is a foul as well" – yet admitted that a point was no more than his side had deserved from a match in which Blackburn played the more purposeful football, with David Dunn and Junior Hoilett impressing.
Steve Kean's side survivedan early let-off when Victor Anichebe failed to connect cleanly with a close-range volley, but soon found their stride. The only pity for the Lancashire club was that Bolton's win over Liverpool dropped them back into the bottom three.
Dunn was foiled early on by the legs of Howard after a jinking run and cross by Hoilett, then saw another effort deflect behind off John Heitinga. Scott Dann came agonisingly close to marking his return from injury with a goal, his looping header from a corner kept out by a combination of Leighton Baines and the post.
Dann's return was timely given the absence of captain Christopher Samba, who remains unsettled0 despite a club statement this week stressing he would not be sold in the face of interest from QPR. "His transfer request has been refused," said Kean, who added: "He will be back in next week and we will move on and the next game get him playing."
Kean and Moyes both agreed there had been a handball by Marouane Fellaini in the build-up to Cahill's strike, which came against the run of play after 24 minutes. Landon Donovan put the ball into the box and after Fellaini had an effort blocked by Paul Robinson, the Belgian then used his arm to divert the rebound to Cahill, who stabbed in from close range. "It was tough for the referee because he was in a hard position," said Kean of Mark Halsey's failure.
"He has looked more likely to score in recent weeks," said Moyes of Cahill's first Everton strike since 20 December 2010. "He looks as if he has been playing better and heading intoa little bit of form."
Dunn – who had earlier had a goal annulled for offside – was unlucky not to equalise when steering a first-time effort against the post.
The second half brought no change in the direction of traffic with the only threat from the home side a shot that substitute Royston Drenthe sent flashing across the face of goal.
Yet Goodwillie's equaliser prompted a late flurry of chances that could well have brought an undeserved Everton winner. Duffy nodded a Baines free-kick on to the crossbar, then after Mauro Formica had curled a shot just wide of the home goal, he helped preserve Blackburn's point by blocking Fellaini's effort in injury time before Robinson stopped Denis Stracqualursi's follow-up shot.
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Neville, Duffy, Heitinga, Baines; Fellaini, Gibson (Stracqualursi, 87); Donovan, Cahill, Anichebe (Vellios, 80); Saha (Drenthe, 55).
Blackburn (4-4-1-1): Robinson; Lowe, Dann, Givet, Olsson; Pedersen, Petrovic, Nzonzi, Hoilett; Dunn (Formica, 69); Goodwillie (Modeste, 75).
Referee: Mark Halsey
Man of the match: Hoilett (Blackburn)
Match rating: 5/10
Cahill's Premier League record
2004-05: 12 goals, 32 appearances
2005-06: 6 goals, 32 appearances
2006-07: 5 goals, 18 appearances
2007-08: 7 goals, 18 appearances
2008-09: 8 goals, 30 appearances
2009-10: 8 goals, 33 appearances
2010-11: 9 goals, 27 appearances
2011-12: 1 goal, 20 appearancesReuse content