Everton 2 Hull 1 match report: Steven Pienaar seals comeback with winner

Midfielder’s first touch gives Everton victory as Steve Bruce condemns Gareth Barry’s ‘horror tackle’

Goodison Park

It was pouring with rain over Merseyside and Goodison was dripping with nostalgia. Sir Geoff Hurst and Ray Wilson appeared with the ball used in Wembley’s World Cup final. An actor came dressed as Dixie Dean and the players were introduced on the big screens as Subbuteo figures.

There were two flicks that decided a tough, hard game that saw Everton propelled into the kind of League position their history demands they occupy. The first, from Gareth Barry, may not even have touched the ball but deceived Allan McGregor in the Hull goal enough to render him motionless as Kevin Mirallas’s shot cannoned in off the post. One-nil as David Coleman would have said had this been 1975.

Steve Bruce was not so sure. Barry, in his view, had definitely touched it and was standing “a yard offside”. The Hull manager also thought the midfielder fortunate to have finished the game.

The tackle that saw Danny Graham taken off on a stretcher after barely a quarter of an hour was worthy of a yellow card. The one on Sone Aluko, in Bruce’s eyes, merited something more. “It was over the top, a horror tackle,” said Bruce. “He was lucky to get away with it. Did he touch it? Just look at the way he  reacts, he knows he has touched it. At Everton you need the big decisions to go for you.”

The second flick was more emphatic and less controversial; a lovely touch with the side of his boot from Steven Pienaar who converted Mirallas’s cross, having been on the pitch for precisely 27 seconds. The announcement of his name had barely blurred into the rain when he was running over to pick up a South African flag that had been tied to the Park End.

Pienaar had not played since the third game of Everton’s season, which like the first two was drawn. Had the game flowed slightly differently, this match might also have finished with a point apiece. Hull’s combination of grit, determination and no little skill could have been rewarded with something more than plaudits.

In his years at Wigan, Roberto Martinez used to dread the game following an international break as his players journeyed back from distant corners of Africa and Latin America. Managing Everton has meant shorter journeys, but the fears remained.

“I was really worried by this fixture,” he said. “Not just because of the international break but because of the way Hull play. There were too many tired decisions. It could not be a pretty performance; it had to be a really professional performance and it was a professional win.”

This game had echoes of Hull’s last journey across the Pennines that had seen them play exceptionally well in the first half at Manchester City and lose 2-0. This ought to have been 3-1 but Arouna Kone, having been superbly set up by Seamus Coleman and with the goal not just at his mercy but on its knees, somehow contrived to shoot against the post.

The afternoon finished in sunshine and with a rainbow over Goodison, which might be an omen for someone – even the side that finished pointless. Curtis Davies kept Romelu Lukaku in check and Aluko recovered well enough to hold off Leighton Baines and cross low and accurately for Yannick Sagbo to score his first for Hull. At the time, the boy from Marseilles seemed the substitute that would change the game. Compared to the one Martinez was to make, it counted for nothing.

Line-ups:

Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard: Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Barkley, Osman (Pienaar, 56); Lukaku (Kone, 68).

Hull City (4-4-1-1): McGregor; Rosenior (Boyd, 66), Faye, Davies, Figueroa; Elmohamedy, Livermore, Huddlestone, Brady; Aluko (Quinn 73); Graham (Sagbo 16).

Referee: Neil Swarbrick.

Man of the match: Pienaar (Everton)

Match rating: 7/10.

Follow all today’s action from the Premier League by CLICKING HERE

Suggested Topics
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'