Yak attack at Goodison
Everton maintained their hold on fourth spot in the Premier League with a 3-1 win at home to Portsmouth.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 02/03/08 10:03pm
Everton maintained their hold on fourth spot in the Premier League with an impressive 3-1 win at home to Portsmouth.
Two goals from Yakubu Aiyegbeni either side of a Tim Cahill header saw the Toffees pick up all three points and made Jermain Defoe's first-half strike nothing more than a consolation.
Everton got off to the perfect start, taking the lead inside the first minute.
Yakubu won a free-kick straight from the kick-off, and when Steven Pienaar's resulting set-piece was then helped into his path by Joseph Yobo the Nigerian made no mistake in planting a firm header past a helpless David James.
The Toffees then continued to dominate for the majority of the first period but were unable to build on their early breakthrough.
With just seven minutes of the first half remaining they were made to pay for their inability to add a second when Defoe pulled Pompey level.
Glen Johnson's hopeful cross from the right curled dangerously in towards goal and the England striker beat the offside trap to get the slightest of touches to divert the ball past Tim Howard.
David Moyes' men always looked dangerous though and finally grabbed a second on 73 minutes.
Yakubu's hold-up play allowed Pienaar to deliver a cross from the left and Cahill was flying in behind Sol Campbell to power a header home from six yards.
Nine minutes from time the result was then put beyond doubt when Yakubu completed a fine personal display by notching his second of the game.
A raking pass from Andrew Johnson put the Nigerian in on goal and after making himself a yard to the side of Campbell he fired an unstoppable effort past James.
Pompey were caught cold by their former player Yakubu almost immediately.
The big Nigerian chased down Lassana Diarra from the kick-off, and was fouled by the French midfielder.
When Pienaar lifted the free-kick into the box, Yobo flicked it on and Yakubu was all on his own to head past James from six yards.
His 17th goal of the season, timed at just 47 seconds, gave Everton the perfect start but spoiled the 61st birthday of Pompey boss Harry Redknapp.
England coach Fabio Capello, who had rushed from Bolton to Goodison Park to take up a seat in the directors' box minutes from kick-off, will have been heartened to see nine Englishmen start the game.
Everton did not fashion another opportunity until the 24th minute, some neat one-touch passing ended with Leon Osman shooting wide.
Sylvain Distin was booked in the 32nd minute for a foul on Cahill, and the visitors were largely ineffective up front at this stage.
Diarra was denied a free-kick following a challenge by Lee Carsley, and became involved in a heated exchange of views with the Everton man behind referee Andre Marriner's back. Diarra pushed Carsley, who kicked out but failed to connect.
However, the visitors were much happier soon after when they grabbed a 38th-minute equaliser.
Glen Johnson fired over a cross from the right and Defoe managed the faintest of touches in the six-yard box as the ball eluded Howard.
Pompey started the second period much sharper and faster, and in the 50th minute Kanu forced his way into the box, eluded Yobo and Joleon Lescott, before being denied by Howard's block.
But the spark soon slowly faded and the game became mundane again, bogged down in midfield.
Pienaar was booked for felling Papa Bouba Diop on 64 minutes, and soon after Everton attempted to inject some pace in the game by bringing on Andrew Johnson.
The striker replaced Tony Hibbert, with Phil Neville dropping to right-back to give Johnson the flank to attack.
But Everton's breakthrough, when it came, was from the left.
Yakubu had generally been kept quiet by Distin and Campbell, but in the 73rd minute he kept possession well out on the left and fed Pienaar on the edge of the box.
The little South African then produced a neat chip for Cahill, who had shaken off the attention of the Portsmouth defence, to head past James from close range.
The goal forced Redknapp to send on an extra striker in Ghana international John Utaka for midfielder Diop as Pompey went in search of parity again.
But in the 81st minute that plan was ruined by Yakubu, who made it 3-1 to the home side.
The Nigerian collected a long crossfield ball from Johnson, held off and neatly turned Campbell, before lashing a shot home.
He was substituted soon after, to a standing ovation, with Victor Anichebe coming on - Leighton Baines followed for Pienaar - as the home side saw out time.
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