Sunday, 11 March 2012

Jelavic Starts Moyes' Everton Party With A Bang

NIKICA JELAVIC kicked off David Moyes’ ten-year anniversary party with a bang – by sealing a ­stirring win over Spurs.


The Toffees’ major January signing netted his first goal for the club to send Tottenham back to London nursing a trio of top flight set-backs.

And whilst they headed back to north London with their tails ­between their legs, Moyes was popping open the champagne.

This week he celebrates a ­decade in charge at Goodison Park – and while his reign has not brought trophies, it has seen plenty of days when ­glamorous have been embarrassed.

Spurs were the latest to come a cropper.

The last Tottenham manager to suffer three defeats in a row was Juande Ramos back in 2008 – he lost his job.

The current one looks certain to be promoted to the role of ­England manager. It’s a funny old game!

Maybe it is the speculation ­surrounding Harry Redknapp that has caused his team to ­stutter just as they were ­dreaming of reaching the Premier League summit.

Previous defeats by Manchester United and Arsenal were not ­unpredictable but title ­contenders need to win at places like ­Goodison Park. Redknapp’s ­decision to continue with Luka Modric in a wide position ­hampered Spurs’ chances of gaining three points here.

They were undone by a strike from Jelavic – a man who can count himself lucky for getting out of Rangers before their ­financial meltdown.

But in doing so he swapped a job of converting easy chances for one of chasing lost causes.

Everton’s record of 12 goals in 14 games ahead of this clash was clear evidence of the task facing the Croat.

But he proved worthy of his £5.5million price tag when hitting the target in his first start for the Toffees.

That put a rare smile on David Moyes’ face.

A smile that really smacked of ­one-upmanship and rightly so ­after he was publicly slapped down by Redknapp.

The Spurs boss went on the ­offensive by dismissing Moyes’ claim that Louis Saha should miss the game because of a ­gentleman’s agreement struck when the striker left Everton.

Redknapp said that was nonsense and stuck him on the bench­.

And he was, ­although his ­second-half ­introduction ­hardly swung the game in Spurs’ ­favour.

Saha’s replaced Jermain Defoe and he was ­involved in the first action of the game early on.

Sent scampering away by a long throw, he found himself with just John Heitinga ­between himself and the goal but the Dutchman did well to knock him off balance as he attempted to pull the ­trigger. Following a slow start, Everton began to flow ­forward. Tim Cahill flicked on a Leighton Baines ­free-kick and while Jelavic flung himself to the floor, Marouane Fellaini forced Brad Friedel into a smart save with his feet.

The American may have kept the home side out but the chance gave Everton an ­instant lift.

The uncertainty of their earlier play suddenly transformed into a determination to raid down a left flank that looked wide open.

Baines fed the ball into Leon Osman’s run and he cut back for Jelavic to show just why Moyes was so keen to snap him up.

The frontman had little trouble slotting his shot past Friedel.

Finally Tottenham found some guts and surged up field. Gareth Bale bent a free-kick wide of Tim Howard’s post and Modric drilled a shot into the keeper’s gloves.

In a second half of few chances Osman failed to beat Friedel when clean through and Defoe was twice denied by Howard and once by an offside flag.

Much has been made of his ­ability to score when coming off the bench – but once again he flopped as a starter.

Saha then came close to ruining his former manager’s night but his shot clattered off the post.

That miss allowed Moyes to look forward to a midweek ­Merseyside derby with real ­anticipation.

Victory over Liverpool will lift Everton above their neighbours – what better way for Moyes to truly enjoy his decade in charge than that.

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