Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Sidwell steals point for Cottagers

Fulham's Steve Sidwell (right) celebrates after scoring Fulham's equaliser

Everton were stunned after Steve Sidwell fired a late equaliser that allowed Fulham to escape with a 2-2 draw from Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash 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. But leading 2-1, the Toffees failed to produce the third goal and substitute Sidwell stabbed home Sascha Riether's cross as injury time beckoned to earn Fulham the draw.

Fulham started the brighter of the two as Dimitar Berbatov weaved a path across the edge of the penalty area, only to be brought down by Phil Neville. Bryan Ruiz curled the set piece over but despite keeper Tim Howard getting a hand to the ball, he could only push it on to the woodwork and the rebound struck him on the back and crossed the line.

Fulham held the lead but it was Everton who were spending more time on the ball, launching a series of attacks lacking only in a killer final ball. Much of Everton's passing was quick and inventive with Nikica Jelavic wasting a half-chance created by a pinpoint cross from Leighton Baines.

A curling shot from Seamus Coleman was saved by Mark Schwarzer and only stout defending from Fulham was preventing Everton from equalising. Phil Jagielka blasted just wide of the left post from long range and then Jelavic's attempt to chip Schwarzer sailed over the crossbar.

The second half started in a similar vein with Fulham's goal being peppered by the visitors. Brede Hangeland produced a commanding header to clear and seconds later Jelavic nodded a cross from Baines to the far post, where Fellaini just failed to connect.

The equaliser was inevitable given Everton's dominance and it arrived in the 55th minute as Mirallas dashed down the right before finding out Fellaini, who drilled the ball home from eight yards out.

Chances continued to come thick and fast and finally Everton's second arrived with Fellaini chesting down Coleman's long ball, holding off two defenders and stabbing home.

Hangeland nodded over the crossbar, while at the other end the irresistible Fellaini struck the right post and was denied by a fine save from Schwarzer. Everton were at last pegged back in the dying moments when Berbatov missed Riether's cross, but Sidwell was there to fire the equaliser.

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