Match Report: Everton 2-1 Sunderland - That Old Familiar Blues

Alex Livesey

In what was very much a game of two halfs, Sunderland still must wait for a win against Everton. Adam Johnson handed us hope and optimism, but second half strikes from Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic saw that old familiar blues return to Wearside.

There were local goalscorers last time we won at Goodison Park, way back in 1996 as Craig Russell and Micheal Bridges both found the scoresheet. When Adam Johnson sneaked in today, there was a familiar feeling that something might just happen again. Something familiar did happen, the same old thing that always doe when we meet up with the blue half of Merseyside.

Sunderland started very much the brighter of the two sides, and could have had the lead after just two minutes when Stephane Sessegnon wasted a glorious chance. Having been put through on goal by Steven Fletcher, Sess bore down on Tim Howard, but the American comfortably tipped away a tame finish.

Just moments later at the other end there was a dubious shout for a penalty when Nikica Jelavic went down in the area. It looked a soft one, and referee Lee Mason seemed to agree.

The pressure from Sunderland however continued, this time Adam Johnson played in Sessegnon in midfield, and with Fletcher holding his run he was eventually unleashed on goal. The left footed effort evaded Howard's grasp, but also sadly it also missed the goal by a couple of inches.

All very positive stuff, and we really were looking by far the superior side, against all pre-match odds.

Everton began to have a spell of their own pressure with Kevin Mirallas the chief troublemaker. His shot was blocked well by Carlos Cuellar inside the area, while Jelavic also had a shot blocked by Rose to keep things level.

Things began to settle down as the home side were reduced to half chances. Steven Pienaar saw his effort from a tight angle beaten away by the strong fists of Simon Mignolet, while from a carefully crafted freekick Jelavic flicked the ball over the top of the bar.

We seemed to cope superbly with everything they could throw at us. Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose proving to be absolute man-mountains at the back.

We then enjoyed another great breakaway, and much like the other chances we simply couldn't finish. Jack Colback played a lovely one-two with Steven Fletcher and on his favoured left foot could only apply an incredibly tame effort from close range and unmarked. You began to wonder if it was to be one of those days.

On the stroke of half time, persistence paid off. A corner swung in by Seb Larsson was nodded away with ease, but when Cuellar played the ball back into the mixer he found an on-rushing Adam Johnson to beat Leighton Baines to the ball and unleash an unstoppable close-range finish past Tim Howard for his first goal for the club, and our first since September.

Half time came with us in front, and no less than we deserved for a superb first 45 minutes of football.

Expected, Everton came out looking much better than they did in the first half and were quick to camp themselves in our half.

Johnny Heitinga was making quite a nuisance of himself. All in the space of five minutes he saw a shot blocked and rebound away of Carlos Cuellar's arm. Nothing given, and rightly so as there was nothing the Spaniard could do about it.

Next the Dutchman was causing problems from a corner, getting ahead of John O'Shea to nod goalwards, and cleared off the line by Adam Johnson.

Lastly he made his most telling contribution, raking his studs (accidently) down the leg of Steven Fletcher, who had been in the wars all day. It wasn't much longer after Fletcher was subbed for Louis Saha, who predictably had little impact.

Everton continued to see plenty of the ball, but nothing much really doing with it. Steven Pienaar tested Simon Mignolet who saved well, with the Belgian also equal to substitute Apostolos Vellios' header, but other than that all the action was in midfield.

Craig Gardner picked up a fifth booking of the season and will miss the Fulham game next week, while Heitinga also found himself in the book.

We seemed to this point to be coping well, was an unprobable win on the cards? Of course it bloody wasn't, as up popped Marouane Fellaini to get Everton's equaliser.

Picking the ball up on the edge of the area, and for the first time all game was given time to turn and get a shot away, and tuck the ball well beyond a stranded Mignolet from 18-yards out. The biggest disappointment might have been that nobody reacted quick enough to the most dangerous man on the pitch receiving the ball on the edge of the area.

A sickener, but not as bad as what happened just two minutes later as Nikica Jelavic scored from close range to break hearts and send a shuddering sense of inevitability around both the North's East and West.

Shellshocked, we offered little by way of comeback. Carlos Cuellar was presented with a golden chance but could only fire straight at Craig Gardner who was attempting to get out of the way, while James McClean's mis-hit effort fell straight to Danny Rose who's effort was stopped thunderously by Seamus Coleman.

Five minutes were added and despite the introductions of Connor Wickham and David Vaughan, nothing was forthcoming other than that old familiar feeling from our encounters with the blue half of Merseyside.

Those who watched it will have seen an improved performance, but that counts for little really. Points at the name of the game, not opinion. Despite the improvement, it's still just one win in our last eighteen Premier League games. A depressing stat line to cap a depressing afternoon.

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