Everton 4 Fulham 1 match report: Leon Osman keeps home fires burning

Long-serving midfielder sets Martinez’s men on the way to another Goodison triumph

Goodison Park

It is not a foregone conclusion that the man who takes his side to the title is automatically manager of the year. Tony Pulis would be a candidate for keeping Crystal Palace in the Premier League. Should Newcastle make it to the Champions’ League, you would have to consider Alan Pardew. For Rene Meulensteen it would have been a point at Everton.

The last man in charge of Fulham to have done so was the gloriously-named Bedford Jezzard in 1959. Since then there have been 21 League games at Goodison Park and 21 defeats. Everton v Fulham is the most predicable result in the English game and 4-1 was an entirely predictable scoreline. “If you saw the scoreline, you would think we were back down on our knees but it wasn’t like that at all,” said Meulensteen and for seven minutes after Dimitar Berbatov had equalised he could dream.

Everton had not capitalised on some overwhelming first-half dominance and, after the interval, Fulham had shown little of the defeatism that had accompanied their previous visit to Merseyside, last month’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool that had pushed Martin Jol a little closer to the brink.

Everton had seen Gerard Deulofeu carried off with a hamstring injury, which his manager, Roberto Martinez, called “the day’s big negative”. Meulensteen had destabilised the Everton midfield by pushing Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell further forward. Alexander Kacaniklic had somehow contrived to miss an open goal and, when Gareth Barry clipped his heels, Fulham had their opening.

Those who imagine that the new year will see England flooded with Bulgarians in search of work should realise that Berbatov has barely broken sweat since arriving here. However, he can still take an icy penalty and gently rolled the ball into the corner of the net, just as he had against Aston Villa last week.

Everton may not have played with the swagger that accompanied their displays at Old Trafford and the Emirates but they are a supremely resilient side. This was their 17th consecutive game at Goodison without defeat, matching a record set in their championship-winning season of 1986-87.  “I’ve seen it happen many times when the home team lose the lead and they collapse,” said Martinez. “But here we were brave, adventurous and creative, even if the scoreline flattered us. Fulham are a different side to the one they were three weeks ago.”

The recovery began when Romelu Lukaku slipped through Steven Pienaar, whose low, hard cross brushed Maarten Stekelenburg and John Arne Riise before being rammed home by Seamus Coleman. That, said Meulensteen, was when he knew history would repeat. A scrambled goal, nodded in by Barry, and a running drive from Kevin Mirallas put the varnish on the afternoon.

It had begun without any sense of anxiety. There is no more traditional club than Everton and the last home game before Christmas opened with a Salvation Army band and a blue Santa parading around the touchline. It ended with the players and staff singing “Bring me Sunshine” on Goodison’s big screens.

Until the interval they were bathed in self-confidence, although Martinez sensed a mental tiredness that would show itself later. Stekelenburg, like Edwin van der Sar, a wonderful Dutch goalkeeper who has found himself at Fulham, saved wonderfully when Lukaku chested the ball from point-blank range. Deulofeu was running wild.

There was, however, only one goal. It came when Pienaar turned the ball across the face of the 18-yard area for Leon Osman. You expected him to look for the pass but he cut inside and sent a curling left-footed shot past Stekelenburg. Osman is one of Everton’s most underrated players, one of only two – Tony Hibbert is the other –  who can remember the club before it was transformed by David Moyes.


Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo; Osman, Barry; Deulofeu (Mirallas, 63), Barkley, Pienaar (Stones, 88); Lukaku.

Fulham(4-2-3-1): Stekelenburg; Riether, Senderos, Hughes, Riise; Parker, Karagounis (Bent, 77): Dejagah (Duff, 83), Sidwell, Kacaniklic (Kasami, 69); Berbatov.

Referee:  Anthony Taylor

Man of the match: Pienaar (Everton)

Match rating: 7/10

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower