x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Saha heads in as Moyes celebrates his 100th win

Everton finally look to have got their season going after Louis Saha's first goal for the club secures a late victory over Fulham.

The Everton players celebrate with the match winner Louis Saha, second left.
The Everton players celebrate with the match winner Louis Saha, second left.

LIVERPOOL // Louis Saha's late winner yesterday ensured Everton continued their astonishing Premier League record against Fulham - but only just. Saha's 87th-minute header from a great Leon Osman cross broke the deadlock in what had been a truly appalling match and when the history of the 2008-2009 Barclays Premier League comes to be written, this abysmal encounter barely deserves to feature in the footnotes. It was Saha's first goal for the club since his free transfer from Manchester United in the summer and meant Everton have still never dropped a single point against Fulham at Goodison Park, winning all eight fixtures. Tim Cahill could have scored after two minutes for the home side but he failed to make proper contact to a Maroaune Fellaini cross from just six yards out and the opportunity passed. The contest then settled into an uninspiring display of abject passing and was for the main part a directionless amble. On 19 minutes a long-range Mikel Arteta free-kick threatened to burst the game's funereal bubble but it was eventually deflected wide and a Jimmy Bullard effort for the visitors flew into the crowd as the game continued to be an effective cure for insomnia. Ten minutes later Fellaini almost scored his fourth goal in five matches, hitting a post with an 18-yard shot which had the Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer well beaten and the Australian was lucky the rebound fell perfectly into his lap. That effort remained the half's main talking point as the opening 45 minutes dribbled out to a nothingness and the crowd silence that greeted the half-time whistle spoke volumes for the woeful football witnessed. After the break, Cahill again had the pick of the chances following a superb run and cross by Arteta. The Spanish winger danced around the Fulham defence and delivered an inch perfect cross but Cahill's free header drifted over the bar when well placed. Ten minutes after the break, Fulham should have scored when a Bobby Zamora cross was powerfully headed by Zoltan Gera against the underside of Everton's crossbar but the ball ricocheted to safety and the game returned to its catatonic state. It bordered on the embarrassing at times as both sides linked up like strangers at best and enemies at worst. With 20 minutes remaining a Bullard free-kick raised the heartrate fo a second, forcing Howard into an acrobatic block and Zamora should have done better with the follow-up but he hit a post before substitute Saha popped up to end Fulham's resistance and gift David Moyes his 100th win as Everton boss.