Thursday, February 25, 2010
Despite Tim Howard's best efforts, a second half barrage of goals by Sporting Lisbon sent Everton spiraling out of the Europa League on Thursday evening at Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon.
Both Howard and compatriot Landon Donovan took their usual starting spots at goalkeeper and midfielder respectively for the Toffees.
Howard went the distance in the defeat while Donovan was substituted off in the 73rd minute yielding to Ayegbeni Yakubu.
Everton head coach David Moyes initially slotted Donovan on the left side of his midfield as part of the 4-3-3 formation he deployed, however shortly into the match, Moyes elected to switch Donovan to play down the right side while Diniyar Bilyaletdinov moved to the left side leaving Steven Pienaar to man the middle
Unfortunately for the Toffees, the move did little to produce any serious goal scoring opportunities as the English club did not produce a single shot on goal in the first half.
Everton's sputtering offense must have rubbed off on their defense as their back line was constantly having difficulty clearing dangerous balls away from the area, prompting several chastising words from Howard.
The American netminder was called on early to make a save in the initial minutes and then was later aided by his crossbar which turned back a Sporting shot on goal.
Hafltime saw both clubs enter the locker rooms locked in a goalless draw, but with the momentum clearly favoring the hosts.
The Portuguese club picked up where they left off and continued to bombard Howard and the Everton back line with various scoring threats.
Sporting finally broke through in the 64th minute when Miguel Velosos gathered in a pass from Yanick Djalo on the left part of the area and sent a shot into the lower left side of the net from just 10 yards out.
The goal forced Moyes' squad to have to score a goal to jump back ahead on the aggregate, but it was still the club from Lisbon that continued to serve up the best chances.
New arrival Pedro Mendes doubled the margin in the 77th minute when he sent in a right-footed shot that beat Howard inside the left post.
Despite the goal from the former Rangers man, Everton still had a chance to force extra time if they could summon up a goal but it was not meant to be as Matias Fernandez put the nail in the coffin with a goal in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time giving Sporting a 4-2 win on the aggregate.
Everton will try to pick up the pieces when they return to Premiership action on Sunday versus Tottenham.