Everton continued their positive preseason form with a very impressive display against Scottish Premier League newcomers Hearts.
Everton lined up 4-3-3 with Howard, Coleman, Stones, Jagielka, Baines, Barry, Osman, McCarthy, Mirallas, Kone, Lukaku.
The Blues didn’t get off to the best of starts going behind to a header from a corner by Calum Paterson in the 9th minute. The marking was appalling, Everton allowing Paterson too much time and a space who out jumped Gareth Barry and powerfully headed the ball past a helpless Howard. They nearly made it two, minutes later but Sam Nicholas couldn’t connect to a pin-point Morgaro Gomis cross.
It was the shot in the arm the Blues needed. The away side starting to dominate possession and impressive link up play between Mirallas and Coleman resulted in a Lukaku header, which was well saved by Alexander in the Hearts goal. Thankfully for us Gareth Barry was on hand to scissor kick the ball back towards goal where it was handled by Hearts player on the line. It was a harsh decision but the travelling Evertonians didn’t care. Penalty was awarded and up stepped Lukaku to stroke the ball coolly into the bottom left hand corner of the net, sending Alexander the wrong way.
Everton started to turn the screw and chance after chance started to present themselves, carving Hearts up at will. It wasn’t until the 35th minute that we extended our lead. Once again great link up play between Mirallas and Coleman who pulled the ball back for Rom to powerfully stroke the ball into the bottom right past Alexander.
Half Time Hearts 1 Everton 2
Tom Cleverley was introduced at the break, replacing the outstanding McCarthy. It wasn’t long until Everton had the ball in the net for the third time. Good work in Midfield from Barry and Cleverley led to the ball reaching Mirallas in the box, his quick feet took the ball away from the defender and drew the foul resulting in another penalty. Up stepped Lukaku again and slotted coolly down the middle of the goal. Hatrick for the big Belgian and game all over bar the shouting!
Chances continued to present themselves put poor finishing and good goalkeeping kept the score at 3-1 to the Blues.
Substitutes disrupted the flow of the game with Ovideo, Barkley, Naismith and youngster Kieran Dowell all making an appearance at Tynecastle.
The game finish Hearts 1 Everton 3
There were huge positives to take from the game, we looked fit, as a team we had a good shape and we passed the ball excellently. We opened up Hearts at will and I believe we played well within ourselves at times, rarely getting out of third gear. The fact Leighton Baines managed to get 60 minutes under his belt on his first game back since injury was great. Other key performers were Mirallas, Coleman, Lukaku and credit where credit is due Kone. He linked the play well and took the burden off Lukaku as it meant the Belgian was free to pick up space and run at the Hearts defence where he could. Any rumours that Stones, Mirallas and McCarthy want to leave the football club is preposterous, especially on todays performance. All were excellent and if they have all asked to leave like those Sunday Red Tops suggest, none of the them would’ve been playing today.
However without getting ahead of ourselves Hearts were probably the poorest of the sides we’ve faced in preseason to date. On a side not our finishing needs improving too, if we had finished half our chances we’d had scored 8 today. However as an exercise it was one that was hugely successful.
Now onto Dundee Thursday. Come on you Blues!