Premier League Match Report: Baines stays cool to give Everton a deserved point
Wigan Athletic 2 Everton 2
It took a penalty three minutes from time to salvage a point for Everton that their response to going behind twice probably warranted. However, Wigan, with only five points to show from seven games and feeling that they are getting a raw deal from referees, may argue again that a key decision influenced the match.
Last week they lost at Sunderland after a contentious red card for Jordi Gomez – later rescinded – took away their control of the match. This time it was the lack of a red card for Marouane Fellaini, Everton's brilliant but sometimes short-tempered attacker, that reinforced their sense of injustice.
Fellaini, who had already aimed a kick at Emmerson Boyce that referee Kevin Friend missed, flattened Maynor Figueroa in an aerial challenge just before half-time. Leading with his arm, he did not elbow the Wigan defender but the hand he planted in the Honduran's face did not look like a passive act. He escaped, though, with a yellow card, perhaps a concession to the robust nature of the attention given him by Wigan's defenders.
At that point, Wigan were 2-1 up and looking assured enough to have pulled off a victory no one expected of them given the start Everton have made to their season. With Fellaini out of the picture, clearly, they could have expected a different dynamic to what lay ahead. But the punishment was not what Wigan wanted and Everton were able to regroup still with a full complement.
In the second half, they looked a different side, putting the home goal under sustained pressure to deal with threats from Leighton Baines and Stephen Pienaar, Everton's deadly duo on the left flank, as well as from Kevin Mirallas on the right and the ever-dangerous Nikica Jelavic through the middle. When Figueroa eventually brought down Mirallas, and Baines, with the emphatic confidence of a player at the top of his game, thumped the ball high to the left of Ali Al Habsi, Everton believed that justice had been done.
Roberto Martinez, only this week fined £10,000 for suggesting there might be some subconscious natural order in the way referees, in his view, tend to favour the bigger sides, was not quite so guarded as he might have been in the circumstances, although he gave the officials the benefit of the doubt.
"From where I was standing it looked like he [Fellaini] came across with his arm," he said. "But the linesman was in a good position and the fourth official was in a good position and if the referee was not certain it was a red card he cannot give it."
It was not a point of view shared by David Moyes, the Everton manager, who felt that it was his side on the wrong end of poor decisions. Everton picked up four yellows in addition to Fellaini's and Moyes said: "I felt we had a really rough day with the decisions. The first Wigan goal was half a yard offside but the linesman was not in line with the ball. And we should have had two penalties, really. Victor Anichebe was fouled just before Mirallas."
Offside or not, Everton were punished for poor defending as Arouna Kone gave Wigan their 10th-minute lead. They were undone by Shaun Maloney's clever footwork on the left and failed to pick up Kone's run as he stole in to head home at the near post.
Everton were allowed back into the game immediately, and from a familiar source. If Baines cannot supply a teasing cross, then there is always Pienaar, whose off-balance shot turned into the perfect ball for Jelavic to nod in at the far post.
Yet Wigan's determination not to let Everton take control brought them a second goal as Moyes' team again paid for their defensive lapses. First Jonny Heitinga, who would be replaced at half-time, was outrun by Kone in a chase for a long ball. Heitinga recovered enough to push the Ivorian to the byline, but behind him his colleagues had failed to pick up the run of Franco di Santo, who arrived to hammer Kone's pull-back into the roof of the Everton net.
For the next 10 minutes, Everton were on the back foot but escaped without further losses and the second half was a different story. Al Habsi made a couple of outstanding saves, from Mirallas and Pienaar, and there were chances missed. Maloney went close for Wigan in stoppage time but an outstanding match probably produced a fair result.
Wigan (3-4-3): Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour; Kone, Maloney, Di Santo (McManaman, 83).
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Heitinga (Distin, h-t), Baines; Mirallas (Naismith, 90), Neville (Anichebe, 80), Osman, Pienaar; Fellaini; Jelavic.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
Man of the match: Pienaar (Everton)
Match rating: 8/10
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