Saha quartet devastating for Seasiders
Everton 5 Blackpool 3: French striker's rich vein of form turns tableson Blackpool, who plummet to another defeat
Sunday 06 February 2011
The sight of Blackpool's goalkeeper Paul Rachubka, standing with blood streaming from a wound in his forehead moments after Everton's fourth goal seemed a fitting image to sum up a match that descended into a footballing equivalent of a bar-room brawl in a frenetic second half. Defences dropped, both teams just went for it and that Everton emerged with three precious points owed everything to the scoring instincts of Louis Saha, who notched his first hat-trick in the Premier League.
The Frenchman endured a miserable 10-month barren run at the end of 2010 but he has recaptured his scoring touch and now has eight goals since the turn of the year after becoming the first Everton player since Joe Royle 40 years ago to score four in a League game at Goodison.
In doing so he killed off the valiant challenge of Blackpool who looked to have turned this contest on its head when two goals in the space of three minutes just after the hour by Jason Puncheon and Charlie Adam put them 3-2 in front.
Saha headed Everton back level with his hat-trick strike with 14 minutes remaining and set up a grandstand finish as substitute Jermaine Beckford made it four before Saha sealed Everton's triumph.
Reflecting on his enigmatic match-winner, David Moyes said: "Louis needs that confidence. He is also keen that he feels good. There has been a spring in his step in training that I hadn't seen for a long time. He's got his reward in the last few games. Today he got four and might have had five."
Saha had started the ball rolling in the 20th minute, when he turned home a low ball by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov who had shown lovely footwork to slip the ball through the legs of Neal Eardley before crossing.
Blackpool drew level when Adam drove in a low corner that Ian Evatt touched on to the inside of the near post. It may have crossed the line but Alex Baptiste knocked in the loose ball to make sure. Everton thought they were back in front when Saha picked up Seamus Coleman's cross and shot in off the far post. But the linesman had already flagged for a foul on Coleman and referee Kevin Friend – who later apologised to Moyes – pulled play back for a free-kick.
Saha righted that wrong within two minutes of the restart. Jack Rodwell sent Leighton Baines away down the left and the Frenchman met his cross with a near-post finish. Everton threatened a third as Rodwell shot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat but instead found themselves behind.
Blackpool's second equaliser came when Elliot Grandin won a 50-50 with John Heitinga, fed former Evertonian James Beattie on the left of the box and his low cross was turned in at the far post by Puncheon, a player,like Beattie, making his first Blackpool start since his deadline day loan signing from Southampton.
Puncheon then helped set up Blackpool's third, breaking on the counterand playing in DJ Campbell for a shot that looped on to the crossbar with Adam diving in to head the rebound home. Unfortunately for Blackpool they could not hold out. "If we could stop every game at 72 minutes we would be one hell of a side," said Ian Holloway. It was the Seasiders seventh defeat in eight League games and Holloway added: "I tried to do what I did against Liverpool and go five at the back and four across midfield and to let three goals in that time was absolutely devastating."
Everton reclaimed the initiative when Saha nodded in from Mikel Arteta's corner. With 10 minutes remaining they were in front as Baines played a deep ball into the box from the left and Beckford dispatched a left-foot volley past Rachubka. Saha delivered the killer blow. Racing on to Marouane Fellaini's ball down the left, the Frenchman held off Adam before slotting home.
Referee: Kevin Friend
Man of the match: Saha
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