Beckford seals Toffees win
Jermaine Beckford claimed both goals against Sunderland to lift Everton further away from the drop zone.
Last Updated: 26/02/11 6:28pm
Jermaine Beckford claimed both goals against Sunderland to lift Everton further away from the Premier League relegation zone.
The Toffees made the stronger start and deservedly took the lead after eight minutes.
Beckford latched onto Leon Osman's clever through ball to round goalkeeper Simon Mignolet before sliding the ball home via a heavy deflection off Titus Bramble's knee.
Sunderland were denied an equaliser thanks to some brilliant goalkeeping from Tim Howard as he thwarted Stephane Sessegnon with a stunning fingertip save to push his long-range effort onto the crossbar.
The Black Cats, without a league win at the ground since 1996, were made to rue their missed opportunity as Everton bagged their second goal of the game six minutes before the break and Mikel Arteta was the architect of the move.
The Spaniard showed superb skill to turn away from John Mensah before pulling the ball back to the unmarked Beckford and the striker scuffed his left-foot shot into the back of the net.
The hosts could have added to their lead but the superb Osman was denied a certain goal after a fine goal-line clearance by Ahmed Elmohamady deep into stoppage-time.
The result means Sunderland have failed to win a Premier League game in February for the last two years. It was also another dent in their push for Europe while Everton claimed victory for only the second time in six league games.
The visitors almost claimed an early lead but Kieran Richardson, playing in an advanced role, spurned a glorious chance after just three minutes.
The former Manchester United midfielder raced onto a fine ball from Sessegnon and was allowed a clear run at goal as Everton mistakenly stopped in anticipation of an offside flag.
Howard managed to force him wide but Richardson should still have done better than to drag a shot across the face of goal.
Sunderland paid for that miss as Everton claimed the lead four minutes later.
Osman found space on the edge of the box and looked to have slipped Saha in but the Frenchman allowed Beckford to sneak through and fire in a shot which Bramble diverted in.
Sunderland were denied an equaliser as Howard produced a brilliant fingertip save to turn a fierce Sessegnon drive from the edge of the box onto the bar.
Everton continued to drive forward themselves with Saha skipping around a challenge from Anton Ferdinand in the area only to be denied by a fine Sulley Muntari tackle.
Saha had another promising opportunity after being fed by Arteta but slipped as he shaped to shoot.
Everton doubled their advantage six minutes before the break after Arteta beat Ferdinand and Mensah to pull back for Beckford in front of goal.
The former Leeds striker scuffed his left-foot shot but the ball still had enough power to creep into the bottom corner.
The only downside for Everton was the loss of Marouane Fellaini just before the interval with an ankle injury suffered in a challenge with Sessegnon. Jack Rodwell took his place.
Everton could have had a third soon after the restart when Saha flicked a Phil Neville throw into the danger area but Osman shot wide on the half-volley.
The Toffees thought they had earned their first penalty in 29 league games when Beckford went down under a Mensah challenge after a powerful run from Seamus Coleman but the flag was raised.
Mignolet then came to Sunderland's rescue by saving with his feet in quick succession from Saha and Coleman after the defence had failed to clear.
Osman tried his luck again from the edge of the box after a Bramble header fell into his path but, despite having time to take aim, the otherwise excellent midfielder again put it wide.
Coleman brought another good save out of Mignolet with a well-struck first-time shot from the right which looked to be creeping inside the near post.
Substitute Diniyar Bilyaletdinov skewed another attempt over the bar as Everton pressed until the end.Osman should have added a third in injury-time when he took the ball round Mignolet but Elmohamady headed off the line.
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||4|
|7||Shots off Target||5|