Everton punish lacklustre Blues
Lee Carsley was instrumental in Everton's late show to kill off below-par Birmingham 3-1
By Hayley Paterson
Last Updated: 03/11/07 5:58pm
Lee Carsley was instrumental in Everton's late show with a hand in two injury-time goals to kill off a below-par Birmingham side 3-1.
The Toffees came out blazing and Birmingham's back four struggled with the strength of Yakubu who opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a tap-in from close range.
City equalised against the run of play when Gary McSheffrey's inswinging corner found Olivier Kapo, and his soft header deflected off Phil Neville on its way into the bottom corner for 1-1.
In the dying minutes, Carsley produced the goal of the game with a superb 20-yard strike into the top corner and then his powerful header released Everton's substitute James Vaughan who coolly slotted home past Maik Taylor for the third.
Birmingham found themselves pinned back by Everton's aerial attack from the off. Corners and free-kicks rained down on their defence, and they looked bemused by the onslaught.
Such was the disarray in the visitors' defence, Everton almost scored after eight minutes through Yakubu, and he put the Merseysiders ahead two minutes later.
The first effort came after a strong Alan Stubbs run, followed by a Leon Osman cross that saw Yakubu's effort deflected wide.
After 10 minutes, though, the big Nigerian was left embarrassingly unmarked as he strolled into the six-yard box to clip home Steven Pienaar's cross, Mikel Arteta's neat pass having opened up Birmingham's defence.
Birmingham did pull themselves together eventually, and Kapo forced his way into the box to see a low shot palmed away by Tim Howard.
Then Everton lost Stubbs after 22 minutes, the veteran defender having apparently picked up an injury, and he was replaced by Phil Jagielka in the centre of defence.
Yakubu almost struck again after an error by Fabrice Muamba almost presented him with a second on 25 minutes. The £11.25million record signing intercepted a poor pass and surged into the box, only for Maik Taylor to block his attempted chip.
Birmingham were asleep again when Arteta got to the line a minute later and presented Carsley with a 12-yard effort that Taylor gratefully held.
The chances kept coming and Yakubu chested the ball down to Tim Cahill, 30 yards out, and the Australian lashed a low drive inches wide of a post.
Yakubu continued the second half in a similar vein to the first when an Arteta free-kick into the box gave the striker the chance to send an angled drive across goal and just wide of the far post.
Cahill was next into the act, meeting a Neville cross with a firm downward header, again straight into Taylor's hands.
Osman and Cahill both frittered away chances after a poor Taylor clearance, and regardless of how much Everton had been on top, their lead was precarious and Birmingham still had hope, even if they lacked direction in their play.
Everton paid for their wastefulness when Birmingham grabbed an equaliser with 10 minutes left. The goal came from a McSheffrey corner, met firmly by the head of Kapo, with his effort powering past Howard from six yards.
Everton's response was to send on a second striker of their own, Vaughan, for Osman before the restart. Vaughan almost grabbed a goal a minute later when his close-range effort from Pienaar's cross was deflected wide.
Two minutes into injury-time Carsley lashed the ball home from 20 yards after Birmingham failed to clear a long throw.
A minute later it was all over when Carsley's header sent Birmingham-born Vaughan clear to stab home the third.
|Everton||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|7||Shots on Target||5|
|7||Shots off Target||1|