Pienaar back to leave Villas-Boas in despair
Everton 2 Chelsea 0: Pressure piles on Chelsea manager after Everton's loan star strikes
Sunday 12 February 2012
The previous Chelsea manager to lose at Goodison Park did not get out of the ground with his job intact. That was Carlo Ancelotti on the final day of last season, and although Andre Villas-Boas, his successor, avoided the same fate last night, Chelsea's limp surrender will have done nothing to ease the pressure on the Portuguese. His team have taken only three points from their past four League fixtures and slipped out of the top four with this defeat, behind Arsenal on goals scored.
It was the last thing Villas-Boas would have wanted after a week in which the club's owner, Roman Abramovich made his presence felt at the training ground. The managersaid: "It was one of our worst games of the season – I think the worst. Our performance was short of anything positive, there were a lot of negatives to take out of this game and a lot of things to improve in the FA Cup and Champions' League."
Everton had not scored two goals at home since November yet were comfortable winners, and there was no little irony in the identity of their scorers. Steven Pienaar has not scored a Premier League goal for Tottenham, but his fifth-minute goal on his second Goodison debut, after returning on loan from north London, did his employers at White Hart Lane no harm, as Chelsea slipped 10 points behind third-placed Spurs.
The second goal, meanwhile, came from Denis Stracqualursi, a loan signing from the Argentinian club Tigre, whose impact as a hard-working front-runner contrasted markedly with another insipid showing from the £50 million Fernando Torres. Indeed, for all Chelsea's first-half possession, Tom Howard did not have a serious save to make until he dived bravely at the feet of the substitute Romelu Lukaku late on. Didier Drogba's return from the African Cup of Nations cannot come soon enough.
The sound of the away fans singing: "You don't know what you're doing" after Villas-Boas sent on Florent Malouda for Michael Essien after69 minutes summed up the manager's miserable afternoon. "It's part of the job," he said of the supporters' reaction. "At the moment, we're sitting fifth in the League and it's not enough for us."
For David Moyes, facing his seventh Chelsea manager as Everton's equivalent, this was an afternoon to savour. Everton rediscovered something of their old battling selves in the win against Manchester City in their previous home fixture and this was another display brimming with spirit, endeavour, and ultimately, no little skill. Not least from Pienaar.
Everton's ability to retain possession was diminished by his previous departure. His relish at being back was underlined by a moment in the second half when he danced over the ball before jinking away from Jose Bosingwa.
Moyes said of the South African: "Some of this stuff was terrific. I said to him it's as if he's not been away. Sometimes players fit a club, maybe this just suits him."
Pienaar put Chelsea on the back foot with his early goal. The unwitting assist came from Frank Lampard, whose attempted tackle on Tim Cahill sent the ball spinning into his own penalty box, where Pienaar got in front of Branislav Ivanovic and shot high into the roof of the net at Petr Cech's near post. Chelsea responded with plenty of possession but struggled to pick holes in a well-organised home defence. Juan Mata offered the only moments of incisiveness with passes to Daniel Sturridge and Frank Lampard. Sturridge's shot deflected wide off Phil Neville while Lampard dragged his attempt wide.
The only real moment of anxiety Torres provided came in first-half stoppage time when he went down in the Everton box after a collision with Marouane Fellaini; he appeared to run into the Belgian but remonstrated angrily as he left the pitch.
Things only got worse for Chelsea in the second half as Everton, with Fellaini dominating central midfield, looked for a second. It eventually came through Stracqualursi with 19 minutes remaining.
Neville sparked the move with a crunching tackle on Ashley Cole. Landon Donovan picked the ball up and ran at the heart of the Chelsea defence before slipping the ball through to Stracqualursi, whose low shot struck Cech's left hand on its way into the Gwladys Street net.
"He's old-fashioned, a little bit of huff and puff, but in the end he wore them down," said Moyes of the scorer. Stracqualursi made little immediate impact at Goodison after arriving from Argentina on a season-long loan and can look clumsy, but he proved a constant nuisance to a Chelsea defence still missing John Terry and ensured another headache for their manager.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Distin, Baines; Donovan, Gibson (Hibbert, 89), Fellaini, Pienaar (Drenthe, 75); Cahill; Stracqualursi (Duffy, 90).
Chelsea (4-3-3): Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Luiz, Cole (Bertrand, 77); Meireles, Essien (Malouda, 69), Lampard; Sturridge, Torres, Mata (Lukaku, 78).
Referee Michael Jones.
Man of the match Pienaar (Everton).
Match rating 7/10.
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