Moyes calls on Drenthe to keep high standards
Everton 1 Swansea City 0
It is unlikely that Royston Drenthe's performance will be remembered alongside "the Matthews Final" of 1953, but he put on a scintillating one-man display in a match that will rank alongside some of the worst seen in the Premier League this season.
The skilful play and direct running of the Dutch winger was the sole reason Everton took all three points, as his companions in blue looked embarrassingly short of confidence. Drenthe's only assistance in the match came from the visitors, who failed to create a single clear-cut chance, and the steady head of Leon Osman.
The Everton manager, David Moyes, cared little that this was no classic – the Scot is in the results business, and was happy to start the hectic festive period with a hard-fought victory. "We needed to win today, and Goodison has always been good to us, and hopefully we can start to get on a good run now," he said. "Royston had a good game tonight, but games at Goodison suit him, and I am looking for him to provide that level of performance more often."
The home side started nervously, losing the ball twice within the opening 15 seconds. This indecisiveness continued, as two crosses, one from each wing, flashed dangerously across the Swansea box before five minutes had elapsed, without a single Everton player getting a touch on either.
For the rest of the half Drenthe looked most likely to produce a goal; the Dutchman continually cut in from the flanks, as he rotated between the two, but always met a barrage of orange Swansea shirts blocking his attempts to engineer a shot.
Everton did nearly break the deadlock when Leighton Baines pulled the ball back for substitute Magaye Gueye, who was denied from 10 yards by goalkeeper Michel Vorm, while the Frenchman's effort from the rebound was deflected behind off Ashley Williams' right arm for a corner.
Step up Drenthe, who has been on the periphery of the Everton squad since arriving on loan from Real Madrid. He proved his worth by winning a corner on the hour mark, then providing a pinpoint delivery that allowed an unmarked Osman to head into the top right-hand corner from eight yards out.
Swansea had the look of a side who had kept three clean sheets in their previous four outings, but the marking, or lack of it, for the goal, disgusted their manager, who also disputed the giving of the corner in the first place. "I think we defended very well throughout, so to concede from a corner, which I don't think was a corner, is frustrating," Brendan Rodgers said. "The ball has gone into the middle of the box, and we've let the smallest man on their team head it in, which isn't good enough."
Rodgers' side balanced out their vigorous defending with such ineptitude in the opposition half that Everton's centre-backs were able to coast, the difficult task of facing Norwich's Grant Holt on Saturday a distant memory.
Only Everton looked like scoring the game's second goal, but a mixture of poor finishing and last-ditch defending kept Swansea in with a chance of equalising, but the home team were still able to breeze to the full-time whistle and earn just their third victory at Goodison of the season.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines; Coleman (Gueye, 31), Fellaini, Neville, Drenthe (Cahill, 80); Osman; Saha (Stracqualursi, 75). Substitutes not used Mucha, McFadden, Distin, Barkley.
Swansea City (4-3-3): Vorm; Richards, Williams, Caulker, Taylor (Rangel , 45); Routledge, Gower (Agustien, 46), Britton (Lita, 74); Allen, Sinclair, Graham. Substitutes not used Tremmel, Dobbie, Monk, Moore.
Referee K Friend (Leicestershire).
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