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Everton 1-0 Chelsea: “That’s your ‘lotti”- final day defeat marks end of Carlo’s reign

Carlo Ancelotti oversaw his final game as Chelsea manager as the final curtain came down on a frustrating season with defeat to a buoyant Everton side.  The Italian’s dismissal was confirmed just a few hours after Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at Goodison Park, a club statement reading “This season’s performances have fallen short of expectations”.

A superbly taken solo strike from Everton’s Jermain Beckford was enough to condemn the Pensioners to final day defeat; the ex- Leeds United striker running the entire length of the pitch, evading challenge after challenge before chipping the oncoming Petr Cech.  Before the home side had broken the deadlock, Everton’s Young Player of the Year was sent off for a stud’s up tackle on John Obi Mikel that sparked a heated exchange between opposing players.

Whilst the solitary goal and the second half dismissal would have you think this to be a timid affair (a belief that was only encouraged by the seeming futility of the game as both sides would almost certainly finish the day where they started, regardless of the outcome) there was plenty on offer for the expectant and excitable near-capacity Goodison gathering.  The home side had won their last three final day fixtures and were keen to sign off what was by and large a frustrating year.  Their season, characterised by a slow start and strong finish, inverts that of Chelsea’s: an explosive beginning which fizzled out before Christmas.

So despite the fact the two sides could not improve their league standing, there was much for both teams to prove and Everton quickly took the game to the visitors.  Jack Rodwell showed enough endeavour on the right flank to force a corner from which Phil Jagielka met Mikel Arteta’s outswinging delivery.  The England centre- half headed superbly but was denied by Cech’s crossbar.  The home said then had a strong penalty claim turned down after 10 minutes, Leon Osman being brought down by Alex in the penalty area.  Referee Peter Walton decided the Brazilian touched the ball before the man.

Chelsea eventually managed to carve out their first real chance of the game, 24 minutes in to the encounter.  Nicolas Anelka, a figure whose yo-yo season perhaps best typifies his clubs fortunes, managed to pull the trigger after Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres combined but the Frenchman’s shot was blocked by his un-capped compatriot Sylvain Distin.  Everton’s play was deserving of much more reward which is an all-too familiar story for the Merseysiders.  They have sought splendidly attractive football this term but have lacked the cutting edge that would see them mixing it with the Champions League sides.  A Beckford effort that went harmlessly out of play for a throw in seemed to sum this up.

The impending second half would open up like a Premier League footballer’s mistress without a super-injunction, as the niceties of the opening 45 minutes were quickly forgotten.  If the already cautioned Coleman was to know he’d be heading back for the changing room just eight minutes into the second half, he might have run his bath at half-time.  Losing control of the ball, the young Irishman lunged towards Mikel in a far from convincing fashion.  Whilst he almost certainly appeared to make contact with the ball, Walton made clear his dislike for the studs-up approach in which he slid and a brief 22-man melee preceded his dismissal.

To say it added spice to the encounter would be an understatement as things began to heat up.  The unlikely John Terry nearly opened the scoring, hitting the post with a long range drive and a long ball nearly undid the Chelsea skipper moments later as Beckford got the better of the defender but met an equal adversary in ‘keeper Cech.  Temperaments threated to boil over once again as Alex survived a second yellow after bringing down the increasingly dangerous Beckford who seemed to sense his chance was fast approaching.  Walton decided not to send the Brazilian down the same path as Coleman much to the disagreement of the home faithful; a blatantly apparent disapproval of this boomed from the stands as Alex was quickly withdrawn.

The game was in danger of becoming spiteful, with Everton feeling aggrieved for being one man down.  But David Moyes’ men should be condemned for the manner in which they carried on.  They showed the determination and the grit which has become the benchmark of any Moyes side, but perhaps more impressively was the way in which they sought the winning goal: with purpose and ambition.  It was from Chelsea attack that Everton were able to grab the decisive goal.

Intercepting the ball in his own penalty area would earn any striker praise among his peers and critics, but to then run the entire length of the pitch, beating no less than five opposing players and having the cool head to casually dink the ball over an internationally acclaimed ‘keeper was something else.  It was a spectacular goal that drew comparisons with Argentina’s Maradona and Messi, but perhaps more importantly it marked Beckford’s 10 goal of his debut Premier League season; proof that the 28 year old, who was playing League One football just 12 months ago, may have a place in this division after all.

The goal was owing much to Beckford’s pace and cool in front of goal, but it was also a goal crafted from sheer ambition- a trait that Moyes men have in abundance, especially when it comes to playing the top teams.  Over four meetings with Chelsea this season, they are unbeaten, winning twice while their last home game against Man City marked their eighth win in seven over the millionaires.

Sadly for Chelsea, there was anything but ambition coursing through the country’s second placed team.  A goal down with 15 minutes to play, they enjoyed much of the possession without carrying anything like a threat in front of goal.  The final whistle put an end to the lack of urgency on display from a Chelsea side happy to see the back of the 2010/11 season.  The Chelsea owners however could not have acted more swiftly in the announcement that Ancelotti’s tenure at Stamford Bridge is over.  I can’t see it taking them too long to find a replacement either.  A sad end to a disappointing campaign for Blues fans.

Were the Chelsea board right to sack Carlo Ancelotti?…Who would you hire as his replacement?…What went wrong on the pitch today at Goodison Park?…please leave your comments below…

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