Danny Welbeck might have had three and sent Sunderland third. Beckford had a last-ditch chance to break our hearts. It ended a fair 2-2. …
The first half was a story of several great crosses and two great goals.
The excellence of the crossing continued after the break, one from Kieran Richardson producing what might have been Sunderland’s winner and confirming Danny Welbeck’s emergence as a strong, dangerous striker.
But as Everton piled on pressure, they grabbed an equaliser that was probably as inevitable as ours had seemed in the first half. It was the only fluke of the four, Phil Bardsley’s wicked deflection sending Arteka’s shot past Craig Gordon, who would otherwise have saved comfortably.
Back to those first-half crosses and goals.
Sadly the first was Everton’s, Leighton Baines’s fabulous ball in from the left being met by a header that was just too powerful for Gordon.
The head, inevitably, belonged to Cahill. Bloody Tim Cahill as the first text put it, f***ing Tim Cahill as far as the second texter was concerned. Steve Bruce will want to know where the Ferdinand/Turner centre back pairing were at the time, but let us not pretend it was other than a splendid goal.
Which was a shame because what running there had been – the game was only six minutes old – had been made by Sunderland.
From that moment, however, began a spell of impressive pressure that led, via a crass failure by Peter Walton minutes earlier to apply the advantage rule when Kieran Richardson recovered superbly from a bad challenge, to the equaliser.
Bolo Zenden slipped his marker to speed purposefully down the right wing to send in a cross to rival Baines’s, only low and into the path of Danny Welbeck, whose finish was exemplary.
The midfield had been buzzing, we were well on top and the goal was fully deserved. So what did we do next? We handed the initiative back to Everton, Cahill – a threat throughout – being denied only by a desperate goal line clearance involving Henderson, Gordon and Bardsley.
Come on Tim, I thought, you have your obligatory goal against us. No need to rub it in.
A thoroughly entertaining first half ended with Sunderland back on the attack and Bent going reasonably close with his header from Bardsley’s cross.
I said at half time that this game could go anywhere and so it proved.
Everton pressed. Turner made one wonderful clearance after another Cahill effort. We had chances, too, and then Richardson – offside, it has to be said – added to the litany of breathtaking crosses to set up Welbeck’s second.
The draw was fair. Either team would have been bitterly disappointed to lose.
What a pity Welbeck, with his late chance, couldn’t quite complete his night and send Sunderland third – but Beckford’s chance to sneak a win for Everton shortly afterwards was a lot more straightforward. Congratulations to both sides on a pulsating match, with a little luck going to each of them to make things all square.