Mutu sets perfect example for the young pretender

Everton 0 Chelsea 1

You can have Robbie Williams and Atomic Kitten at your 18th birthday bash, as Wayne Rooney did at Aintree last night, but what he and his team desire more than anything is a goal. Playing out a fourth successive Premiership game without one yesterday after spurning some excellent chances left Everton on a run of one win in nine League games, sliding from third position early in the season to the nether regions.

Chelsea's Adrian Mutu took advantage of a lack of concentration in the home defence soon after half-time to maintain the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester United. "Who needs Wayne Roo-ney when we've got Mu-tu?" sang the visiting supporters. It is a fair point at present, when the youngster is suffering to find his form just as Claudio Ranieri is developing a more settled side. Mutu and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink were a potent combination, in contrast to Rooney and Tomasz Radzinski, and there is no need for the London side to rush Hernan Crespo back from injury, however keen he may be to return for Tuesday's Champions' League game with Lazio.

The midfield, with Claude Makelele as its anchor, is becoming a solid unit and had the better of Everton's depleted quartet once Géremi stopped hugging the right touchline so unthinkingly. Frank Lampard foraged forward to good effect and Joe Cole repaid Ranieri's confidence in awarding him a second successive start in the Premiership for the first time. It was to the home side's credit that they came so close to taking a point against superior opposition. But it is a sign of the times that managers and supporters are so satisfied with narrow defeats by the big three.

Everton's David Moyes, who must sell if he wants to bring in the Fulham midfielder Sean Davis after Christmas, claimed: "It was a good performance. We made as many chances against Chelsea as against some lesser sides. If we play like that we won't remain low in the table." Moyes felt that Mutu's goal might have been disallowed for the use of an arm, but had to admit that his strikers cannot continue to be so profligate; Francis Jeffers, Radzinski and Rooney were all guilty.

The boy wonder has just about managed to keep his feet in rough proximity to the ground in an extraordinary 12 months since his last-minute goal beat Arsenal at Goodison and projected him to national stardom at such a tender age. But Moyes has felt it necessary on occasion to register his disapproval at the showbiz element creeping into the young man's life. After some distinctly ordinary performances this season and a total of one goal in 10 appearances, Rooney does not have much of an argument.

He kept his place yesterday for a third game in eight days, alongside Radzinski, who contrived the first bad miss inside 45 seconds. Sent clear as John Terry failed to cut out Thomas Gravesen's pass, he clipped his shot wide, unwittingly setting the tone for the afternoon. Closer to the interval, Rooney passed up the sort of opportunity Everton could not afford to spurn. Carlo Cudicini, pressurised by Radzinski, kicked in haste straight at his partner and would have repented at leisure had the youngster not cleared the bar with his chip.

The home side's best moment came in the 23rd minute, from an unlikely source. Alex Nyarko, who seemed to have played in a blue shirt for the last time after handing his to a disgusted supporter at Highbury more than two years ago, had reappeared for the Carling Cup tie against Charlton in midweek and now returned to the Premiership. Collecting a short pass from Radzinski, he hit a ferocious shot against the angle of post and bar before Cudicini could make so much as a gesture.

After Mutu's audacious attempt to score direct from the kick-off - the ball floating high and wide - Chelsea had to wait awhile for a threatening volley from the same player and then a flowing counter-attack 10 minutes from half-time that ended with the Romanian setting up Cole to drive a whisker past the far post.

Gravesen and Radzinski, having almost opened the scoring so early on, did the same thing within 30 seconds of the second half. Once more the Dane made the chance for Radzinski, who with less time to think this time, shot instinctively, forcing Cudicini to a smart save. They were quickly punished. Géremi had space for a cross that no defender dealt with, allowing Mutu to lunge forward and head in from no distance at all.

The home side had suffered from losing their captain and defensive organiser David Weir, injured making a brave block tackle on Lampard after half an hour. There was uncertainty in their ranks again as Hasselbaink fed Géremi, a combination of defender and goalkeeper just managing to keep out efforts by the Cameroonian and then Lampard. A typically thunderous drive by Hasselbaink followed, as Géremi, unmarked to the right, waited optimistically for a pass.

Gary Naysmith's drive over the bar was insufficient to prevent Moyes making changes, sending on Jeffers and James McFadden for Radzinski and Tobias Linderoth. It was Jeffers who passed up Everton's most tempting opportunity of the game, heading wide from inside the six-yard box with seven minutes remaining and the home supporters wondering when they will next see a goal. Gravesen's low shot in added time was more deserving of one, but Cudicini was equal to it.

Everton 0 Chelsea 1
Mutu 49

Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 40,189

News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing