Match Report: Sebastian Bassong puts Everton on the back foot

Everton 1 Norwich City 0: Home fans greet late equaliser with jeers as European ambitions continue to unravel

The booing, thin and bitter, began echoing around the stadium; it was the sound of opportunity being tossed away. Having achieved the running start to the season that has nearly always been beyond David Moyes's teams, everyone at Goodison recognises that Everton have a glittering chance to make the Champions' League, which for footballing and financial reasons would transform the club.

Arsenal are not themselves, Tottenham are stumbling and, as the pre-match meals were consumed in the Dixie Dean and Brian Labone Suites, the flat-screen televisions were showing West Bromwich Albion driving their way into third.

In their last seven games, Everton have dropped 13 points, against Wigan, Queen's Park Rangers, Reading and now Norwich. Moyes admitted afterwards that he was not especially confident going into this game. He was missing plenty of players, Phil Neville and Marouane Fellaini chief among them. Norwich had come to Merseyside buoyed by their victory over Manchester United at Carrow Road while Everton were still digesting the bitter taste of becoming the first club this season to lose to Reading.

"It was always going to be a tight game and I couldn't see us winning it that comfortably," said the Everton manager. "If we had to chase the game, I didn't think we had a lot to chase it with." There were only the four minutes of stoppage time to chase it with when Sébastien Bassong, who had marshalled Norwich's defence masterfully, rose to meet Javier Garrido's free-kick.

The ball hung long and high in the air like a small, yellow moon, and Moyes thought that both Tim Howard and John Heitinga ought to have made a better fist of clearing it before it connected with Bassong's head and crashed down from the underside of the crossbar. Grant Holt shovelled it into the net but it had already crossed the line and Chris Hughton's side would return to Norfolk with an unbeaten run that stretches to seven matches.

However, it is doubtful whether his goalkeeper, John Ruddy, who spent five years at Everton during which he played a single game, will be fit for Wednesday's game at Southampton. Ruddy received an ovation from the old stadium when a thigh injury forced him off a few minutes from the end, a time when Moyes was thinking that Everton had come through some sustained pressure and might end up extending their lead. Ruddy had saved two-handed from Leighton Baines to ensure they did not and then, while he received treatment, the game swung entirely the other way.

For a manager striving to take Everton into the Champions' League, Moyes's programme notes carried all the bleakness of late November. "We are now into that long, difficult winter period that all clubs have to endure in this country," he had written, and this was a long, difficult slog of a match.

It did not begin that way. The contest was one minute and 15 seconds old when Leon Osman stroked a shot past Ruddy's post and then England's newest midfielder found Bryan Oviedo, starting his first League game, with a long pass the Costa Rican pulled back for Steven Naismith to drive into the roof of the net.

That was as good as it got. Norwich's resistance stiffened and in the second half they looked increasingly the likelier scorers. Holt might have broken through when he hesitated for a moment in the mistaken belief he was offside, and Anthony Pilkington, the match-winner against Manchester United, had his chance palmed away by Howard.

Because this was the last time this year a game would kick off at Goodison at 3pm on a Saturday, Everton produced a retro programme with the look of, and some articles produced for, a 4-1 win over Norwich in April 1974. It would be a season neither club would want to emulate. Norwich, because they finished last, and Everton because the seventh place they achieved then would seem an opportunity missed come May.

Everton: (4-2-3-1) Howard; Jagielka, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Osman, Hitzlsperger; Naismith (Vellios, 90), Pienaar, Oviedo; Jelavic.

Norwich (4-4-1-1): Ruddy (Bunn, 82); Whittaker, R Bennett, Bassong, Garrido; Snodgrass (Jackson, 89), Tettey, Johnson, Pilkington; Hoolahan (Morison, 75); Holt.

Referee: Mike Jones

Man of the match: Bassong (Norwich)

Match rating: 5/10

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

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
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor