Match Report: Everton's Leon Osman puts Cinderella stamp on European push

Everton 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Goodison Park

As Christmas entertainment, the alternative to this was Cinderella at the Liverpool Empire with Coleen Nolan “the queen of daytime television” as the Fairy Godmother.

It will be five long months before Everton discover whether they will go to the ball of Champions League football but at the halfway point they are within reach, propelled by rather more than mice and pumpkins.

It was fitting that the goals that decided this fixture were scored by Leon Osman and Phil Jagielka, men who represent all that is best about the underfunded, overachieving club David Moyes has built. It would be wrong to call them ordinary footballers but they possess an honesty that those in Goodison’s stands, smelling of freshly unwrapped Christian Dior and Jean-Paul Gaultier, would recognise.

There is an honesty in Everton’s approach that is absent elsewhere in the Premier League. When Marouane Fellaini had headbutted Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, Moyes was unstinting in his condemnation of perhaps his most valuable player. Yesterday, when asked if Osman should have conceded a penalty when bringing down Shaun Maloney, Moyes replied: “I don’t want to answer questions on referees when the answers always fall on my side and from where I was, sat in the dugout, it looked like a penalty-kick.”

Moyes also correctly pointed out that when Arouna Koné wriggled through the Everton defence to give Wigan Athletic hope they might snatch something from the afternoon, the forward used his hand to control the ball.

For Wigan, this was another game that they received less than they deserved. If playing badly and winning is the mark of a champion, then playing well and losing is the sign of a side bound for the Championship.

The Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, argued that it was better to be playing well and losing on the grounds that the law of averages suggests that sooner or later you will get something. However, the Premier League has passed its midway point and Wigan are now on to “later”, which fortunately for them is the period of a season in which they tend to excel.

This match may have seen its first shot on goal after a mere 14 seconds but it only came alive after the interval when Thomas Hitzlsperger sent a shot from 30 yards or more crashing against Ali al-Habsi’s crossbar. If the Wigan keeper was fortunate then, luck abandoned him four minutes later when Osman’s shot struck Gary Caldwell on the arm – which would have resulted in a penalty – and left Al-Habsi horribly and hopelessly wrong-footed.

There was nothing fortunate about Everton’s second, although Martinez thought that Wigan might have better defended a straightforward cross from Phil Neville that Jagielka’s header buried in the Gwladys End net to take Everton’s tally of points from 2012 to 68. Should they finish with 71 after Sunday’s encounter with Chelsea, the race for the Champions League will be alive long after Cinderella has made way for Dolly Parton, the Musical at the Liverpool Empire.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York