Everton double seals win
Goals from Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe gave Everton a vital 2-0 away win over SK Brann.
By Steve Pass
Last Updated: 13/02/08 10:25pm
Second-half goals from Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe gave Everton a vital away win over SK Brann in the Uefa Cup on Wednesday night.
After a dour first half in this first leg of the last 32 tie, Osman put the Toffees in front on 59 minutes with a fantastic swerving shot from the edge of the Brann box which left keeper Hakon Opdal with no chance.
Anichebe then doubled Everton's lead on 88 minutes after Joleon Lescott put in a fine cross from the left. The ball bypassed all of Brann's defenders and Anichebe tapped in at the far post, although replays showed he was possibly a yard off-side.
The result means Everton are in the driving seat to progress into the last 16 when the teams play the tie's second leg at Goodison Park next Thursday.
The Norwegians started brightly and almost went ahead after nine minutes. Jan Gunnar Solli's free-kick curled into the box and Azar Karadas' instinctive header flashed over the bar.
Everton created precious little of consequence in the opening exchanges, while Brann had former Leeds midfielder Eirik Bakke pulling the strings in midfield.
The Toffees' first chance came when Osman saw a 12-yard shot saved by Opdal, the Norwegian goalkeeper who had been on the wrong end of a 3-0 defeat against Wales in Wrexham last week.
Andy Johnson set up Osman after 33 minutes for a snap-shot that was turned away by Opdal, but this was not an assertive Everton performance.
Lee Carsley fired over from the edge of the box, but it did not ignite a match that lacked drive and direction.
On the stroke of half-time, Tim Howard fumbled a Solli corner over the line, under pressure from Karadas and Bakke. Referee Anton Genov ruled the effort out, to the disgust of the local fans, who booed the Bulgarian official off at the break.
There was clearly a need for Everton to be more positive at the restart, and Tim Cahill responded with a 25-yard strike that cracked against Opdal's left-hand post after 52 minutes.
Seven minutes later, the Toffees were in the lead. They broke down the right after a fierce Cahill challenge won possession.
The ball was played into Johnson, and he turned Kristjan Sigurdsson in the box before drilling in a low cross.
The danger was only half cleared to the edge of the box and Osman was onto it in a flash to crack a low drive into the far bottom corner.
Everton pressed for a killer goal and Manuel Fernandes forced Opdal into a fumbling save at the foot of a post before Anichebe came on for Johnson with 15 minutes remaining.
Howard was forced into a plunging save to keep out a Njugo Demba-Nyren long-range drive before Thorstein Helstad forced a scrambled save from the American keeper.
But Everton got the crucial second goal two minutes from time when Fernandes sent Lescott down the left to supply a perfect cross for Anichebe to guide into the net, his fourth goal in Europe this season.