18 February 2012
Goodison Park, Liverpool
Referee : Michael Oliver
Attendance : 38347
The magic of the FA Cup is alive and well on Merseyside as Everton steam-rollered their way through Blackpool with 2-0 victory at Goodison Park. Royston Drenthe was the star man and he opened the scoring in the 49th second of the match following a neat move involving Leighton Baines, Magaye Gueye and Marouane Fellaini. Six minutes later the game was won as Drenthe turned provider for Denis Stracqualursi who poked home a corner from six yards.
David Moyes made three changes to the side that beat Chelsea as Tim Cahill, Landon Donovan and Steven Pienaar all made way for Gueye, Drenthe and Tony Hibbert. Phil Neville moved back into the centre of midfield alongside Fellaini and Darron Gibson, with Drenthe and Gueye supporting Stracqualursi up front. A bout of flu meant that Landon Donovan was not able to line-up for the Toffees in what would have been his final game before returning to LA Galaxy. Blackpool made seven changes from the side that beat Doncaster in their last league game but Ian Holloway still set up an attacking side with three forwards pressing the Everton defence. Veteran Kevin Phillips came back into the side and he was joined by Chris Basham, Angel Martinez, Thomas Ince, Danny Wilson, Craig Cathcart and Robert Harris.
The home side began the game at 100mph and got their reward inside 49 seconds as Drenthe finished off a lovely team move. Baines and Gueye combined down the left, the youngster’s cross was controlled by Fellaini who rolled the ball to Drenthe and he calmly curled the ball beyond Matt Gilks to give the Toffees the perfect start. Six minutes later Everton doubled their lead through the strong front man Stracqualursi. A right wing corner from Drenthe was flicked on by Sylvain Distin at the front post and fell to the striker in the six yard box. He miskicked his first effort but made no mistake with his second attempt which flew into the back of the net giving Gilks no chance. David Moyes’ side were in complete control of the game and most of what was good came through the impressive Drenthe. Midway through the half he wriggled away from Sylvestre in the Everton half and raced at the backtracking Blackpool defence, his cross-field pass on the edge of the area looked perfect for Gueye but Gibson took it off the youngster’s toe and he blasted wide.
Minutes later another flowing move from the home side saw Gueye released down the left, his low cross into the centre for the unmarked Stracqualursi was excellent but the Argentine couldn’t stretch enough to touch the ball home. With the half coming to a close the Toffees created a couple more chances but were unable to extend their lead further. Another run from Drenthe resulted in a low cross to Fellaini but with the goal at his mercy the ball ricocheted off Cathcart for a corner. From that set piece the ball fell to Gibson on the edge of the box but his powerful shot was saved by Gilks after coming through a crowd of players. In first half injury time Blackpool had their best chance of the half as the lively Ince embarked on a mazy dribble inside from left wing. He found Sylvestre with a short pass but although his low shot looked destined for the bottom corner Howard tipped it round the post.
The second half saw the visitors come back into the game and they went close with three free kicks on the edge of the Everton penalty area. Ince took the first one from the right side of the area but it was easily saved by Howard, Kevin Phillips saw his chance from a similar possession go the same way but in the 67th minute he did beat Howard but the ball flicked off the top of the cross bar and flew over. Despite Blackpool’s improvements Everton continued to control large parts of the game and had much more possession than the visitors. Chances continued to come for the home side with John Heitinga going close with a header and the impressive Stracqualursi giving Gilks plenty to deal with. From a Baines cross in the 75th minute the striker reached out a long leg and flicked a shot towards the top corner but Gilks showed good reactions and parried the ball away. With 10 minutes to play Everton came close to extending their lead when a cross from the right from Seamus Coleman found its way to an unmarked Fellaini at the back post, the Belgian controlled the ball on his chest and fired under Gilks but Harris made a last ditch clearance off the line to deny Everton a third goal. Blackpool were gifted a penalty in stoppage time after Heitinga was adjudged to have felled substitute Roman Bednar. Phillips stepped up but blasted his spot kick high, wide and not very handsomely into the Gladys Street stand.