Everton held, Spurs beaten by Wigan
Premier League round-up:Everton were stunned after Steve Sidwell fired a late equaliser that allowed Fulham to escape with 2-2 draw and a point at Craven Cottage. Apart from their seventh-minute opener by Bryan Ruiz and Sidwell’s 90th-minute strike, Martin Jol’s side were over-run by the rampaging visitors.
Only desperate defending and wayward finishing, chiefly from Nikica Jelavic, prevented Everton from adding the scores their superiority deserved — until Marouane Fellaini intervened. The roaming Belgium forward took his tally for the season to five goals in 10 matches with two clinical finishes, demonstrating his strength to hit the second.
Fulham manager Martin Jol identified Everton in the build up to the game as the “best of the rest”, the benchmark to which a club like his must aspire, and he will be cherishing the luckiest of points. Leading 2-1 and creating chance after chance against a team rarely overwhelmed at home, they failed to produce the third goal they needed to kill the game off and paid a high price.
David Moyes could barely believe his eyes when substitute Sidwell stabbed home Sascha Riether’s cross as injury time beckoned and the furious Everton manager stalked from the pitch at the final whistle.
Bradley Johnson headed in the only goal as Norwichcontinued their revival with a hard-earned 1-0 win over Stokeat Carrow Road. The Canaries are unbeaten in four games across all competitions following the international break, having reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup with victory over Tottenham in midweek.
Stoke, though, were unfortunate not to have taken something from the match when they produced a much-improved second-half display after falling behind to Johnson’s effort just before the break. It arrived when full-back Andy Wilkinson tripped Robert Snodgrass as he got away down the left channel, conceding a free-kick in a dangerous position just before half-time.
It proved a costly foul as the delivery from the Scotland international was first class — with Johnson flicking the ball on into the top corner. Norwich then almost went 2-0 up when Snodgrass just failed to connect with Pilkington’s cross through the six-yard box. And although Stoke improved thereafter they were unable to force the equaliser as Norwich closed out their second successive home Premier League win.
Gabriel Agbonlahor’s first league goal of the season was enough to see off shot-shy Sunderlandas Aston Villaruined former boss Martin O’Neill’s day with a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light. The striker fired home from close range 12 minutes after the break to claim just a second league victory of the season for the midlanders on an afternoon when the Black Cats mustered only a single notable effort on target, and that six minutes from time.
It was no more than Villa, who headed north without former Sunderland striker Darren Bent, deserved after turning in a display which belied their lowly position with striker Christian Benteke bullying the home defence and Barry Bannan enjoying plenty of space in midfield.
But where the visitors were dynamic, their hosts once again laboured with dangerman Steven Fletcher effectively shackled as Adam Johnson, Sebastian Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon failed to provide meaningful service for long periods. The response from the locals among a crowd of 41,515 on the final whistle was predictable with O’Neill’s men having now won just one of their last 17 league games.
And Tottenhamfans vented their anger at Andre Villas-Boas as their side slumped to a shock defeat against strugglers Wiganat White Hart Lane. Spurs had come in to today’s game having won five of their last six Premier League matches, but they were desperately poor this afternoon. The Londoners were lucky that Ben Watson’s strike was the only one they conceded after they put in a dire display that caused an outcry of fury among the home support.