EVERTON v CARDIFF CITY
Match Reports15th March
REPORT: EVERTON 2-1 CITY
An injury time goal from Seamus Coleman condemned Cardiff City to a 2-1 defeat at Goodison Park denying the Bluebirds an invaluable Premier League point in the cruelest of fashions.
After a goalless first-half, Gerard Deulofeu's deflected shot gave the Toffees the lead before the hour mark, before Juan Cala deservedly levelled for the Bluebirds just ten minutes later - the Spanish defender netting a first Premier League goal of his career as he steered a Peter Whittingham free-kick home.
Defending resolutely as the home side pushed for a winner, City looked destined to claim a fantastic point, only for Coleman to slice his effort home in injury time to give the Toffees all three points.
A frantic start at Goodison Park saw the home side quickly come out of the blocks with Scottish International David Marshall quickly called into action by Leon Osman, who saw his curled effort just clawed away at the far post with three minutes gone.
From the resultant corner, luck was almost against the Bluebirds. Steven Caulker looked to clear, only to see it rebound off Lukaku and inches over the bar. Fabio da Silva provided a response only to see his pinpoint cross toe-ended away by Coleman as Campbell looked to convert.
Gary Medel and Osman exchanged further efforts for both sides before on-loan Barcelona frontman Deulofeu saw his appeal for a penalty waved away by Referee Roger East.
Just after the half hour mark, Marshall was at hand once again to tip over a Lukaku effort from distance, quickly following up his earlier save to deny Mirallas two minutes earlier. City responded as the ball fortuitously fell for Campbell in the Everton penalty area, only to see Howard equal to it with an agile save.
HALF TIME: Everton 0-0 Cardiff City
There we no changes for either side at the break as the Bluebirds took the initiative and gained momentum in the early stages of the second half. Campbell soon latched on to a nicely weighted Fabio ball forward, only to see his effort turned away by Howard.
The City forward was producing yet another tireless performance in his lone role up front. Chances came his way as he first guided a Mutch corner wide before seeing his curling effort from distance drift just wide of Howard's goal. Whittingham replaced Mutch in midfield soon after.
But somewhat against the run of play, given City's early second half possession, the home side took the lead. Deulofeu broke clear on the left flank before seeing his shot deflect off Caulker and past the helpless Marshall in goal.
Not deterred, City went in search of an equaliser as Mats Moller Daehli came on to replace Craig Noone on the left just after the hour mark. Six minutes later, the Bluebirds were level.
Making the most of the set piece opportunity, Whittingham whipped an excellent cross into the area as Spanish defender Juan Cala diverted the ball home fortuitously off his chin to claim the leveller and his first Premier League goal.
Osman almost regained the Toffee's lead immediately from the restart with his curled effort, with Lukaku bringing the best from Marshall once more ten minutes later as Roberto Martinez' side upped the tempo in search of a winner.
City were remaining resilient in defence however and looked good value for the point, only to be dealt with a late sucker punch in the last seconds of injury time. Marshall first got in the way of a Ross Barkley effort before the resultant corner saw the ball fall to Coleman in the area whose mishit shot was enough to give Everton all three points.
It came as a bitter blow for the Bluebirds, whose performance deserved at least a point.
FULL TIME: Everton 2-1 Cardiff City
Cardiff City: Marshall, Caulker (C), Medel, Campbell, Kim, Noone (Daehli 62), Mutch (Whittingham 56), Cala, Theophile-Catherine, Fabio (Zaha 77), John. Subs not used: Lewis; Jones, Gunnarsson, Cowie.
Goal: Cala (68)
Everton: Howard, Baines, Coleman, Deulofeu (McGeady 61), Mirallas (Naismith 61), Distin, McCarthy, Lukaku, Barry, Osman (c) (Barkley 82), Stones. Subs not used: Robles, Garbutt, Alcaraz, Browning.
Goals: Deulofeu (59), Coleman (90+4).
Attendance: 38,018 (Goodison Park, Liverpool)