Everton continued there fine current form in the Barclays Premier League after beating Swansea 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium on a wet December Sunday evening, thanks to a superb individual free kick from central midfielder Ross Barkley.
Everton went into the game off the back of a superb 4-1 win at home to Fulham the previous week, and Martinez would have wanted a similar ruthless performance from his upwardly moving Toffees, as the Merseyside club push for a European spot.
Both sides started the game in an early even tempo, with Jonjo Shelvey and Ross Barkley involved in a heated midfield battle, in a weather effected game in South Wales.
Everton passed the ball superbly in the first half, along the slick wet turf of the Liberty, with wingers Steven Pienaar, and Kevin Miralles calving the Swans defence open at the drop of the hat, the Belgium international winger Miralles beat Ashley Williams, but saw his low driven shot well saved by Gerald Tremmel.
Miralles then saw his rasping drive go just wide of the post, as Everton looked to hit Swansea on the counter attack in the torrential rain in South Wales.
Swansea had opportunities of their own, as Wilfried Bony saw his header go just wide, and former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey had a long range effort go just over Tim Howard’s crossbar, as Swansea failed to really test the American goalkeeper.
Wilfried Bony, running onto a reverse pass by the Swansea winger Routledge, later in the half, thrashed over the bar left-footed, in a half of few decent opportunities for both sides, with the two teams cancelling each other out.
Everton started the second half on the front foot, and after Romelu Lukaku’s header had to be well saved by Tremmel, that was a clear sign of things to come for the in form visitors.
Martinez’s side began to attack with more venom, and when a well worked break away move started from Howard’s long through to full back Oviedo, who fed Pienaar. With Ross Barkley clear in the inside left channel, Pienaar played the England international through on goal but the midfielder slipped on the rather skiddy wet surface.
Up the other end, De Guzman saw his fierce effort well saved by the experienced Howard.
However, Everton would have the lead just minutes after De Guzman’s wasted chance, after the impressive Barkley ran at the Swansea defence, after skipping past De Guzman with ease and smahed the ball toward’s the top corner, which was tipped onto the bar well by Tremmel, after the ball was cleared it fell to full back Seamus Coleman, who skipped past Ben Davies and smashed a dipping swerving shot into the corner past Tremmel.
Swansea hit back moments later, through fortunate circumstances for the hosts, when a deep cross was launced in by Ben Davies, Swansea were handed a lifeline as Dwight Tiendalli managed to beat both Oviedo and Pienaar to the ball, and got the slightest of touches, via a deflection and beat Howard to make it 1-1.
But it was Everton who would have the last laugh, as Lukaku was brought down on the turn by Ben Davies, Barkley stepped up for the free kick, and curled the ball over the wall into the top corner, beating Tremmel, with the ball crashing of the crossbar in the process to give Everton all three points.
Michael Laudrup stated in his post match interview….
“We did not deserve to lose this game, definitely. We conceded the late goal at a moment when Everton seemed OK with the draw judging by their substitutions.
It was harsh. We deserved at least a point.
“We didn’t get it, and that is the way football is. “I do not want to say Everton found luck, it was a well hit free-kick, but it found the three points.”
Everton matchwinner Ross Barkley stated in his interview to Sky Sports…..
“My goal was a relief because I had a good chance to score with 20 minutes but I slipped over. To see that free-kick go in was a massive bonus. I don’t practice free-kicks but with Leighton Baines not on the pitch I thought it was my chance to have a go.”
Manager Roberto Martinez was also delighted with his sides impressive win….
Ross is growing game-by-game. He is showing different aspects, he is a quite incredible diamond of English football. “I always felt Seamus Coleman is a very complete footballer. People sometimes try and find weaknesses, but he is very competent defender and his real strength is going forward. “He also has the arrogance to try a strike from that distance. He gives a lot in the final-third.”
More from Everton boss Roberto Martinez, on his side’s hard-fought win in Wales: “Overall, it was such a difficult game for us. I was very pleased with the way we played against a Swansea team who we all know are so good in possession. “We looked a real threat in the second half. Conceding that late was a real test of seeing what we needed to get the three points. “It is a more significant three points than any you get in a glamorous fixture. We had a real focus and desire to win the game when we were not at our best, it tells a lot about the squad. “For me, it is one of the most gratifying results.”
By Ben Reardon