Ferguson soars to new heights

Norwich City 2 - Everton 3
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The Independent Online

For a little over two hours on Saturday afternoon, Everton, who only just escaped relegation last season, were lying in second place in the Premiership. Ahead of, among others, Chelsea, who then leapfrogged them, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle.

For a little over two hours on Saturday afternoon, Everton, who only just escaped relegation last season, were lying in second place in the Premiership. Ahead of, among others, Chelsea, who then leapfrogged them, Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Giddy heights indeed for a club forced to sell Wayne Rooney in the summer. Presumably, the teenager did not envisage joining United only to find the club that formed him, outdoing the behemoths of Old Trafford. But Marcus Bent, who in effect is Rooney's replacement at Goodison Park, if such a thing is possible, is rather enjoying life near the top.

He scored Everton's second goal and said: "Its nice to be up top rather than down at the bottom. A lot of the press wrote us off before the season started, so it's nice to fight back and show what we're capable of.

"Maybe I didn't believe we would be up there but we know we're a better side than where we ended up last year. We should be top half of the table."

This contest certainly forced Everton to demonstrate their new-found mettle. That has not always meant attractive football, as their manager David Moyes employs a pragmatic 4-5-1 formation home and away.

Goals are almost a bonus in this system, yet two turned up inside 40 minutes for the visitors, with Kevin Kilbane on hand to convert Tim Cahill's pass and then Bent, on the counter-attack, latching on to Thomas Gravesen's pass.

But Norwich, who have still not won this season, came back after the interval with a purpose and line-up that would have suited them better from the start, with Darren Huckerby playing provider to two strikers.

Substitute Matt Svensson found Leon McKenzie, whose pace did for Alan Stubbs and whose nutmeg did for Nigel Martyn in goal. Damien Francis then hooked in the equaliser from Huckerby's corner and, the result was in the balance.

This was where Moyes earned his corn. He switched to two strikers, bringing on Duncan Ferguson, and Everton went for goal again, the tall Scot heading inside Robert Green's far post. Back Everton went to one up-front and the points were secure.

Visibly, Moyes was a man under pressure last season. That has alleviated somewhat, as he said with a smile on his face: "There's a great spirit here, the best I've known at the club."

As for Norwich, spirited comebacks that end in defeat do not make for Premiership survival. Their manager Nigel Worthington has to turn his team into one finally capable of winning matches.

Goals: Kilbane (10) 0-1; Bent (40) 0-2; McKenzie (48) 1-2; Francis (57) 2-2; Ferguson (73) 2-3.

Norwich City (4-4-2): Green; Edworthy, Charlton, Fleming, Drury; Helveg (Svensson, h-t), Francis, Holt, Jonson (Doherty, 83); McKenzie (Bentley, 83), Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Safri.

Everton (4-5-1): Martyn; Pistone, Weir, Stubbs, Hibbert; Kilbane, Cahill (Ferguson, 61), Carsley, Gravesen, Osman (Watson, 61); Bent (Yobo, 79). Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), McFadden.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Co Durham).

Booked: Everton: Weir, Carsley.

Man of the match: McKenzie.

Attendance: 23,871.

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