Premier League - Saha nets four to down Blackpool

Sat, 05 Feb 16:56:00 2011

Four goals in an imperious display from Louis Saha saw Everton overcome a battling Blackpool 5-3 in a thrilling Premier League encounter at Goodison Park.

Saha grabbed his first midway through the first half, and restored his side's lead within seconds of the restart after Alex Baptiste had levelled before the break.

The Frenchman even had a goal disallowed, but was unflustered as he plundered two late goals with Jermaine Beckford also on target as Everton repelled the valiant visitors, who struck through Jason Puncheon and Charlie Adam, in a pulsating second half.

Tim Cahill was confined to the substitutes' bench upon his return from Asian Cup duty, while James Beattie was handed his first starting berth in attack following his move in the January transfer window.

Everton boss David Moyes was keen to focus on on-field matters following a tumultuous midweek spat with Arsene Wenger, and his side could have been in front in the 10th minute but for a stunning save from Paul Rachubka.

The Blackpool goalkeeper pulled off the reflex stop diving low to his left to thwart Johnny Heitinga, whose rasping drive looked set to arrow unerringly into the top corner of the net.

Everton did take the lead in the 22nd minute, however, as Diniyar Bilyaletdinov foraged down the left to good effect before squaring the ball on the proverbial platter for Saha to tap home with just the keeper to beat.

Blackpool were undeterred, and some incredibly slack defending from their hosts enabled Baptiste to ghost in at the back post and capitalise clinically to beat Tim Howard.

Moyes was then left absolutely seething on the touchline as referee Kevin Friend brought back the play for an Everton free-kick, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Saha had planted the loose ball beyond Rachubka with aplomb. It was an unobservant call from the official, and prompted a chorus of boos from the disgruntled home fans at the break and a volley of less than constructive advice from the Everton backroom staff.

Blackpool's last win at Goodison Park was 1-0 back in November 1966, and it was the hosts who always looked the more likely to restore their advantage.

Indeed, the home fans had to wait all but a matter of seconds while clutching their Bovrils after the restart as Leighton Baines outstripped Neal Eardley and squared the ball back with precision for Saha, who again kept his cool to slot the ball into the back of the net.

The Tangerines were back level just after the hour mark as Everton's defence was again caught napping: Heitinga dallied in possesssion, and Beattie stole in before cutting the ball back exquisitely for Puncheon, who slammed into the back of the net with relish.

Suddenly the match was very open, and Rodwell squandered a glorious opportunity to restore the hosts' lead yet again: despite having done all the hard work with a sublime touch to latch on to Neville's long ball, the midfielder slid his shot tamely wide.

Everton were punished ruthlessly for their profligacy in front of goal as Blackpool capped a quite stunning turnaround with a slick counter-attack which saw DJ Campbell fire his initial effort against the crossbar, with Adam left to nod the ball into an empty net and give the visitors a 64th-minute lead.

Blackpool looked set to preserve their slender and precarious one-goal lead, with Ian Evatt producing an inspired diving clearance off the line to deny Rodwell from close range.

But Saha was not to be denied, and the Frenchman seized on a loose ball inside the Blackpool box to head home in clinical fashion as the visitors were punished for not alleviating the pressure on their goal with a clearance of conviction.

More drama was to follow in a breathless passage of play as Beckford hurtled through on goal and produced a superb finish to volley into the bottom corner of the net from Baines's raking diagonal ball and seize the initiative back once more for his side.

There was still another goal left in the game as Blackpool piled forward in their droves, leaving themselves exposed at the back, and Saha latched on to Marouane Fellaini's through ball to dispatch his finish beyond Rachubka with consummate ease to wrap up an incredible win.

Five successive defeats have now ensued for Holloway's side since the Tangerines beat Liverpool back in January, while Everton recorded their sixth win of a topsy-turvy campaign.

Dan Quarrell / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account