Everton 2 Norwich City 0 match report: Everton secure Aiden McGeady and three easy points

Everton announced the capture of the Spartak Moscow midfielder before kick-off with superb goals from Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas securing victory shortly after

Goodison Park

If it was routine on the pitch, it was frantic off it. Roberto Martinez had insisted that Everton would sign Aiden McGeady in the summer when his contract with Spartak Moscow expired.

However, on Friday night, as the rain teemed down over Merseyside, a deal was agreed to sell the striker Nikica Jelavic to Hull City for £6m and the agreement to bring the 27-year-old winger to Goodison was brought forward by six months. It involved paying a £2m fee for McGeady (below) which, since the Russian season does not begin until the spring and the winger has not played since November, is a substantial sum.

Nevertheless, as Martinez made an £11m profit on his summer transfers and Jelavic has moved for more than David Moyes paid for him in January 2012, Everton can spare the cash. The desire to make the Croatia World Cup squad was the key to Jelavic’s desire to quit Merseyside as soon as practicable.

 

McGeady has long interested Martinez, who tried to sign him from Celtic when he managed at Wigan. McGeady, however, engineered a rather more ambitious move, spurning the town that produces Uncle Joe’s Mintballs and Heinz baked beans for the Russian capital, although things had lately begun to sour there.

“He was desperate to come back into the British game,” said Martinez, who agreed a four-and-a-half year contract with McGeady, who, happily for Everton, was in Glasgow rather than Moscow during the negotiations.

“He has not played a full game since mid-November and he is going to need time to get back in. He needs a mini pre-season and will join us for some warm-weather training in Tenerife. I have known him for a long, long time. He is a clever, clever footballer who has a real understanding of how to hurt teams.”

A glance at Martinez’s bench demonstrated why Everton might have been keen to accelerate the deal. With Gerard Deulofeu, Sylvain Distin and Ross Barkley, who has a suspected broken toe, all absent, The  People’s Club was short of people. 

Nevertheless, they coped with Norwich easily enough. Given that their last three journeys to the north-west had seen them concede 16 goals, a 2-0 defeat seems almost acceptable. The BBC had asked Robert de Niro and Sylvester Stallone to predict the score and they had gone for a 17-0 home win.

It never quite threatened that kind of scoreline, although Norwich were beaten by the time Kevin Mirallas’s free-kick curled past John Ruddy with an hour gone.

They attacked hard in the last quarter of an hour which saw Robert Snodgrass hit the post, but two goals down at Goodison is a strange time to start competing. With Sunderland and West Ham winning, Chris Hughton is only too well aware how close the cliff edge appears.

It took 23 minutes of shots blazed wide, miscues and pressure for Everton to break through and it came from the 50th and probably best Premier League goal Gareth Barry has scored.

It was delivered from 25 yards and dipped and swerved past Ruddy’s flailing gloves. More importantly, England manager Roy Hodgson, who considers Barry surplus to the national team’s requirements, was watching from the stands.

Line-ups:

Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Stones, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Osman (Heitinga, 69), Pienaar (Naismith, 71); Lukaku.

Norwich (4-4-2): Ruddy; Whittaker, Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass, Johnson, Fer, Garrido (Redmond, 67); Hooper, Van Wolfswinkel (Murphy, 88).

Referee: Kevin Friend.

Man of the match: Coleman (Everton)

Match rating: 6/10

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