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
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence