14/09/13
Premier League
Everton 1 Chelsea 0

Chelsea went down to a first league defeat of the season against Everton as José Mourinho was left bemoaning poor finishing at Goodison Park. Naismith scored the only goal of the game just before half-time as his side picked up their first win of the campaign despite being second best for much of the Saturday evening contest.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Samuel Eto’o in particular, who was handed his Chelsea debut but looked short of match practice although there was no lack of effort on his part. David Luiz was back in defence to make his first start in the league this season, with John Obi Mikel also starting for the first time.

Eto’o’s enthusiasm could have seen him grab an early opener for his side when Ramires picked him out with a good cross down the right, but the Cameroonian striker just couldn’t get his header on target and watched as the ball went wide of the mark.

Chelsea had started brightly but soon the home team were threatening and there was a reminder of how stern a test Chelsea were to receive. Naismith was the provider for Jelavic and he made contact with the ball but although he did hit the target he was unable to beat Petr Cech, who saved comfortably.

Everton were losing out to Chelsea in terms of possession but chances remained few and far between for both sides as the first half wore on. Finally a great opportunity did fall Chelsea’s way but they couldn’t do enough to turn it into a goal. Distin and Howard were at fault as the former rolled the ball back to his ‘keeper and instantly put him under pressure.

Howard then panicked and cleared the ball straight to Andre Schurrle, who found Eto’o inside the box but his pass didn’t quite have enough on it. As the striker went to pull the trigger Barry did just enough to get a toe on the ball and clear it over the bar to keep his side on level terms.

It was a let off for the Toffees and they almost capitalised instantly as they went up the other end and put Chelsea under pressure but Naismith shot wide after Mirallas had opened up the defence. The game was now much more open however and Chelsea soon threatened again at the other end as Ramires tried a shot from distance that forced a Howard into a good save.

The best chance of the half for the visitors came with eight minutes left until the interval. Ramires burst forward with a trademark run before being halted but the ball came to Schurrle on the edge of the box and he blazed over the top when he should have at least hit the target.

That was followed by a decent chance for Ivanovic but he headed wide from a Mata free-kick before Everton took the lead in the dying seconds of the half. Osman found space out wide and planted the ball on the head of Jelavic, who flicked it back across goal for Naismith to stab home. Chelsea had edged the half and found themselves behind due to poor finishing, leaving much work to be done in the second half.

Mourinho seemed to have had stern words for his players at the break as they came out sharply and looking to find an early equaliser. Schurrle again had a good chance to find the back of the net when Ramires advanced from midfield and slipped the ball to him but he could only hit the side netting with his clip over the advancing Howard.

In fairness, it was not an easy chance but combined with his earlier miss the German was not having a good day in the finishing department. Nonetheless, Chelsea were looking relatively dangerous and Hazard forced Howard into a save with an effort from range.

Soon though, the chances dried up for the Blues and Mourinho made two changes just before the hour mark, with Mata and Schurrle coming off and Oscar and Frank Lampard coming on to replace them. Oscar was involved as soon as play restarted, being brought down inside the area under a challenge from Osman. Unfortunately for Chelsea the referee waved play on and replays suggested that Osman had got enough of the ball to justify that decision.

The substitutions helped to increase Chelsea’s share of possession as they began to dominate proceedings but still chances were not coming their way. With twenty minutes to go Mourinho made his third and final change as Fernando Torres came on for Ashley Cole, leaving the visitors with a three-man defence.

That decision opened the game up further and Everton began to create a few chances of their own. Mirallas forced Cech into a save from a free-kick before Eto’o again threatened at the other end, but again was unable to get enough on a Ramires cross.

Once more Everton went back at Chelsea and again Mirallas was denied by Cech before another free-kick was awarded to the home team. Again it came to nothing but it didn’t matter as Everton held on to secure the win.

Mourinho stated in the post-match press conference that on the one hand his side deserved to win, given their dominance, but on the other a side which misses so many chances to score doesn’t deserve anything from the game.

He will undoubtedly be looking for an improvement up front against Basel and Fulham in the next week.

Chelsea; Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole (Torres 68), Ramires, Mikel, Schurrle (Lampard 57), Mata (Oscar 57), Hazard, Eto’o
Unused subs; Schwarzer, Cahill, Essien, De Bruyne
Booked; Ivanovic, Hazard, David Luiz, Mikel
Attendance; 36,034
Referee; H Webb