Flo the leveller leaves Everton stunned

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The Independent Online

By Peter Drury

By Peter Drury

Everton 1 Campbell 15

Chelsea 1 Flo 90

Half-time: 1-0 Attendance: 38,225

21 November 1999

Chelsea preparing for another feast around the continental gourmet's table this week, were grateful yesterday for the scrap of a single point, garnered for them in stoppage time at Goodison Park by Tore Andre Flo.

Taking their place, against Feyenoord on Wednesday, among Europe's notional top 16, Gianluca Vialli's side were threatening to slip out of the Premiership's top half. They had fallen behind to Kevin Campbell's first-half goal, seen Franck Leboeuf sent off and were on the verge of a fourth domestic defeat out of five when their Norwegian talisman came to the rescue.

For Everton it was a stunning, silencing disappointment. Walter Smith, who had followed his manager of the month award for September with five winless games, affected some prudent shuffling of his fellow Scots. He permitted John Collins to rest on the bench - no doubt drained by his mid-week exertions and his subsequent decision to draw a line under his international career. Richard Gough was recalled to a defence without the suspended David Weir. Don Hutchison, cheered to the rafters for his Wembley contribution, slipped back into midfield behind Campbell and the returning Francis Jeffers.

Quickly, and with haunting familiarity for England followers, Chelsea developed a problem down their left side. Only 30 seconds had elapsed when Gabriele Ambrosetti pulled up lame and although his replacement, Roberto Di Matteo, immediately crafted a chance for Flo, it was down that flank that Chelsea were undone.

Alex Cleland, overlapping from right full-back, engineered sufficient space to locate Jeffers with a low cross. Jeffers juggled adroitly before presenting Campbell with the chance to dispatch his eighth goal of the season as the striker drove home from 10 yards.

Chelsea are becoming increasingly vulnerable to accusations of under-prioritising the domestic league vis-Ã -vis Europe: Gianfranco Zola was on the bench; Gustavo Poyet wasn't even there. But, with Jodie Morris buzzing industrially in lieu of the suspended Dennis Wise, they lacked little creatively.

Morris himself had a ferocious drive heroically charged down by Gough. But the best chance, courtesy of Albert Ferrer's deep run and Dan Petrescu's splendid cross, fell to Flo, whose point-blank header drew a marvellous reflex save from Paul Gerrard in the Everton goal.

However, from the visitors' viewpoint, the second half began with an inauspicious lack of forward momentum. Vialli waited just seven minutes before altering his personnel and his formation. Zola was introduced to operate behind Chris Sutton and Flo; Petrescu was withdrawn from a midfield which became three-strong.

Barely settled in their new formation, Chelsea were thrown into confusion when Leboeuf - already booked shortly before half-time - over-zealously slid into Nick Barmby and was dismissed. This latest turbulence required Sutton to slip into his former role of centre-half. With ironic timing, he came upfield at once and made his most notable attacking contribution, heading a corner from the right narrowly wide.

The extended fallow period that followed seemed destined to lead nowhere for Chelsea. Inventively though they attempted to pass, Everton's man advantage appeared sufficient to keep them at bay.

Then, 80 seconds into the two minutes of additional time indicated by the fourth official, another centre-half played a pivotal part. Dane Jes Hogh darted for the byline and levered back a pass that Flo rifled deliriously into the net.

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