Cahill locks on to Europe
Monday 03 March 2008
Everton are not short on inspiration in their fight with Liverpool for a Champions League spot but Tim Cahill revealed that thoughts of his jailed brother had driven him to a match-winning contribution as his side saw off Portsmouth to re-establish their three-point lead over their neighbours.
Sean Cahill was jailed for six years in January for an offence of grievous bodily harm, and after scoring his side's decisive second goal – and his 10th of the season – Cahill was clearly emotional, providing a handcuffs gesture as he celebrated. "That was for my older brother," said Cahill.
"My family mean a lot to me, as well as this football club." The incident which led to the conviction occurred outside a London nightclub in 2004.
Yakubu scored Everton's other two goals, against his former club, in a win which effectively kills off Portsmouth as Champions League contenders and had Harry Redknapp rueing the club's decision to offload Yakubu after Redknapp had quit for Southampton.
"I brought him to Portsmouth and they decided to sell him which wasn't very clever," Redknapp said. "He was fantastic for me – 19 goals in the first year [when] we went up."
Cahill also paid tribute to the striker, who has netted 18 times in all competitions this season. "If you provide the Yak he will score and he provides them as well," Cahill said. "He's on fire." Everton's win re-established a lead which Liverpool had just dismantled with a convincing 3-1 win at Bolton, leaving David Moyes confident that his side can prevail in their push for a Champions League place.
"Portsmouth have been there all season. They don't lose games away from home," said Moyes, who believes the result will finally give his players the belief they need that fourth place is attainable. "I think we've realised we can play against teams and cause problems," he said. Though Everton's squad have been struggling with a sickness bug, the roles played by Cahill, Joseph Yobo, Steven Pienaar and substitute Andrew Johnson – who had all been suffering – illustrated their collective desire, Moyes said. "I think one thing the players have here is determination," he said.
Moyes still believes Liverpool are favourites for fourth place. "But I think we are continuing to get better. All we can do is put ourselves in a position to keep going forward," he concluded. The England manager Fabio Capello saw both Merseyside sides in action and after Liverpool's 3-1 win at Bolton, Rafael Benitez dropped the biggest hint yet that he might be in negotiations to extend his existing contract – which has two and a half years to run – until 2012.
Having aligned himself with Tom Hicks, one half of Liverpool's American ownership, the Liverpool manager is understood to be eager to give himself greater security should the club be sold to the consortium Dubai International Capital. At first Benitez would only say that he was "very happy [at Liverpool]" – "I'm just thinking about this game and nothing else".
Pushed a little further on whether talks had taken place on a new contract, Benitez said, "I think some people were talking but really, at this moment, it is better to talk about the games. If we then want to talk about the future I will be really pleased." Moyes will not discuss his contract until the summer. "I don't want to spoil the focus," he said.
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