Everton 1-1 Birmingham

Birmingham’s five-match winning streak came to an end at Goodison

Park as they were outplayed by Everton in a 1-1 draw on Sunday

afternoon.

Diniyar Bilyaletdinov’s sixth-minute goal was all the hosts

had to show for their early dominance and they were caught cold

when Sebastian Larsson equalised with Birmingham’s first shot of

the match midway through the first half.

Everton continued to control the game after the interval but

never really threatened to add a second.

Not only did the result end Birmingham’s excellent run of

results, it also extended Everton’s sequence to just one victory in

11 league matches.

And David Moyes’ side have not won at home since they beat

Blackburn 3-0 on September 20.

The atmosphere inside Goodison at kick-off was as cool as the

strong, chilly wind blowing off the Irish Sea, but that soon

changed in the fifth minute.

Tony Hibbert’s throw was cleverly chested into the path of

Bilyaletdinov by Louis Saha and the Russian cut inside on his left

foot to beat Joe Hart at his near post with a 12-yard drive.

Saha had the ball in the net moments later from Tim Cahill’s

reverse pass but was flagged offside, although television replays

showed the Frenchman had timed his run to perfection.

Cahill was next to leave Hart clawing at thin air as his

left-footed drive went narrowly over after a quick Everton

counter-attack.

Everton were totally dominant in the opening 20 minutes and

when Steven Pienaar and Hibbert cut Birmingham open down the right

Leon Osman, starting his first league match since October 17, had

his shot blocked by Roger Johnson.

However, they failed to make their chances count and the

visitors equalised with their first shot in the 22nd minute.

Larsson picked up the ball in midfield, played it in to

Christian Benitez on the edge of the penalty area and continued his

run to collect the return pass and clip a shot past Tim Howard.

The goal drained all the confidence out of Everton but the

visitors still allowed them too much possession and Saha’s

back-header from Leighton Baines’ inswinging 29th-minute free-kick

went just over.

Birmingham, however, sensed they always had a chance against

a patched-up defence whenever they went forward.

Just before half-time Lee Bowyer threaded a pass through to

Cameron Jerome on the edge of the penalty area and only a

last-ditch tackle by Hibbert prevented the striker having a clear

shot at goal.

Everton began the second half as they had the first and eight

minutes after the restart Cahill’s diving header at the near post

went just wide from Baines’ cross while Saha curled a 25-yard

effort over.

The crowd screamed for a penalty on the hour when Marouane

Fellaini’s cross to the far post was volleyed by Baines straight at

Scott Dann and Johnson cleared the danger as referee Stuart Atwell

waved play on.

Unlike the first half Everton managed to retain control of

the game but despite their endeavour they struggled to find the

necessary creativity in the final third of the pitch.

For the final 20 minutes Moyes’ switched to 4-4-2 by sending

on striker Ayegbeni Yakubu for Bilyaletdinov.

Pienaar was next to blaze well over and as Everton continued

to pressure the Birmingham defence.

However, Alex McLeish’s side were able to soak up all that

was thrown at them and although they surrendered their winning

sequence, they extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.