Everton are starting to look like serious European places may well be within their grasp this season as they picked up another three points at home in a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Stoke City.
Yakubu proved to be the difference between two closely matched sides in what could easily have finished a draw.
Certainly, those connected with Stoke felt they were denied a goal when Tuncay was adjudged to have fouled Leighton Baines before forcing the ball into the home net. Stoke manager Tony Pulis, speaking after the game, felt the goal could have stood but referee Lee Probert waved away any protests.
Yakubu’s goal – his first of the season – came after Tim Cahill, Everton’s main attacking threat, had seen a shot rebound off a post with just over 20 minutes remaining. The ball fell to the Nigerian, who controlled before firing home a high shot into the top of the Stoke net to spark celebrations from Everton fans around Goodison Park.
Everton have now gone five matches unbeaten, and sit just a couple of points shy of fifth place, on 13 points. It is the end of the season that matters, but David Moyes will be pleased he has found some consistency from his men of late. Another clean sheet will also be a boon to Everton fans.
Stoke slide a little closer to the drop zone – just one point away in 15th place – but, on the evidence of this match, have enough weapons to pick up the points needed to stay nearer the top than the bottom of the table. If Stoke can add a goal or two to their solid performances, they have the makings of a good mid-table Premier League outfit.
- Ayegbeni Yakubu, Everton (67)
23 Coleman (Saha 62)
22 Yakubu (Bilyaletdinov 85)
01 Mucha, 02 Hibbert, 07 Bilyaletdinov, 26 Rodwell, 08 Saha, 16 Beckford, 19 Magaye Gueye
12 Wilson (Whelan 77)
19 Walters (Pennant 73)
27 Nash, 03 Higginbotham, 28 Wilkinson, 06 Whelan, 16 Pennant, 24 Delap, 07 Gudjohnsen