Toffees thwarted by City
Birmingham hold on to earn point on Merseyside
By James Riach. Last Updated: 20/12/09 5:29pm
Bilyaletdinov fires in the opener
Everton were denied a win at Goodison Park as Birmingham held on for an unlikely 1-1 draw.
The Toffees were dominant throughout but for all their possession they created few clear-cut chances, as City's good run in the Premier League continues.
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov opened the scoring with a powerful finish in just the fifth minute - Louis Saha chested the ball down from Tony Hibbert's throw into the path of the Russian, who left Joe Hart with no chance from close range.
It was no more than Everton deserved and they should have been two up had Saha's effort not been incorrectly ruled out for offside four minutes later.
But Birmingham scored with their first attack - Seb Larsson finishing precisely into the corner of Tim Howard's net from the edge of the box - and the away side hung on for a point.
Not only did the result end Birmingham's excellent run of victories it also extended Everton's sequence of league matches to just one win in 11.
And David Moyes' side have not won at home since they beat Blackburn 3-0 on 20th September.
The atmosphere inside Goodison at kick-off was as cool as the strong, chilly wind blowing off the Irish Sea but that soon changed in the fifth minute.
Hibbert's throw was cleverly chested into the path of Bilyaletdinov by
Saha and the Russian cut inside on his left foot to beat Hart at his near post with a 12-yard drive.
Saha had the ball in the net moments later from Tim Cahill's reverse pass but was flagged offside, although television replays showed the Frenchman had timed his run to perfection.
Cahill was next to leave Hart clawing at thin air as his left-footed drive went narrowly over after a quick Everton counter-attack.
Everton were totally dominant in the opening 20 minutes and when Steven Pienaar and Hibbert cut Birmingham open down the right Leon Osman, starting his first league match since 17th October, had his shot blocked by Roger Johnson.
However, they failed to make their chances count and the visitors equalised with their first shot in the 22nd minute.
Larsson picked up the ball in midfield, played it in to Christian Benitez on the edge of the penalty area and continued his run to collect the return pass and clip a shot past Howard.
The goal drained all the confidence out of Everton but the visitors still allowed them too much possession and Saha's back-header from Leighton Baines' inswinging 29th-minute free-kick went just over.
Birmingham, however, sensed they always had a chance against a patched-up defence whenever they went forward.
Just before half-time Lee Bowyer threaded a pass through to Cameron Jerome on the edge of the penalty area and only a last-ditch tackle by Hibbert prevented the striker having a clear shot at goal.
Everton began the second half as they had the first and eight minutes after the restart Cahill's diving header at the near post went just wide from Baines' cross while Saha curled a 25-yard effort over.
The crowd screamed for a penalty on the hour when Marouane Fellaini's cross to the far post was volleyed by Baines straight at Scott Dann and Johnson cleared the danger as referee Stuart Atwell waved play on.
Unlike the first half Everton managed to retain control of the game but despite their endeavour they struggled to find the necessary creativity in the final third of the pitch.
For the final 20 minutes Moyes' switched to 4-4-2 by sending on striker
Aiyegbeni Yakubu for Bilyaletdinov.
Pienaar was next to blaze well over and as Everton continued to pressure the Birmingham defence.However, Alex McLeish's side were able to soak up all that was thrown at them and although they surrendered their winning sequence they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.
|Everton||Team Statistics||Birmingham City|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|3||Shots on Target||1|
|14||Shots off Target||1|
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||28||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||28||25|