Everton battle back to draw
Everton and Standard Liege fought out a thrilling 2-2 draw to leave their Uefa Cup first round tie on a knife edge.
By Pete Oliver
Last Updated: 18/09/08 10:47pm
Everton and Standard Liege fought out a thrilling 2-2 draw at Goodison Park which leaves their Uefa Cup second round tie on a knife edge.
Liege made themselves marginal favourites to progress to the group stage thanks to away goals from Deiudonne Mbokani and a Joseph Yobo own-goal.
But Everton showed their fighting spirit by twice equalising in a pulsating first half to keep their hopes alive ahead of the return in Belgium in a fortnight's time.
Top scorer Yakubu struck his fourth goal of the season and Segundo Castillo then marked his home debut with a spectacular second for David Moyes's men.
The Ecuador international volleyed in from 30 yards but even though Everton dominated the second half they could not get their noses in front as the Belgian champions looked to make amends for their UEFA Champions League exit to Liverpool last month.
Everton started with plenty of aggression and pushed Liege back, and Marcos Camozzato was booked after only four minutes for penalty-box wrestling at a free-kick.
Victor Anichebe then shot wide from 10 yards out and it looked as if Everton would force an early breakthrough but the Belgian champions had given Liverpool a severe examination and stunned Goodison Park with a 10th-minute strike.
Joleon Lescott was caught out on the right and reacted slowly when Wilfried Dalmat forced the ball across goal for Mbokani to guide a close-range shot home.
It should have been two after 23 minutes when Milan Jovanovic struck a low shot that colleague Igor De Camargo somehow deflected wide of a post from a yard out.
Despite their problems, Everton found themselves level after 23 minutes when Lescott found Mikel Arteta and the Spaniard fed Leon Osman before the ball was played instantly forward for Yakubu to sweep home.
Jovanovic should have made better use of a clear chance when played into space from a Camargo back-heel, while skipper Steven Defour twice had 20-yard shots charged down as Liege continued to create opportunities.
Another run and cross on the right exposed Everton again after 36 minutes.
Camozzato raced away to fire a low cross into the box where Yobo - assuming that Mbokani was closer behind him that he thought - lunged in to put the ball past Tim Howard.
But four minutes later Everton were level again was Castillo lashed a poor clearance past international team-mate Rorys Espinoza.
Espinoza tipped over an Arteta free-kick soon after the restart, the game showing no signs of being anything but a free-flowing, full-blooded clash.
And as if to underline that, Everton had Anichebe carried off with a shin injury after a crunching tackle with Bonfim and James Vaughan took over after 64 minutes.
Liege made a change with Benjamin Nicaise repalcing De Camargo with five minutes left and it was a pass from Nicaise which released Dalmat for a run on goal which was only ended by a Lescott challenge which had the Goodison Park crowd holding their breath for a final time.
|Everton||Team Statistics||Standard Liege|
|2||1st Half Goals||2|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|9||Shots off Target||3|