Everton have joined Crystal Palace in putting their name in the hat for the FA Cup semi-finals. Unlike the Eagles, the Toffees had to take on opponents of the highest calibre in Chelsea (no disrespect to Reading), and came through in stunning style.
The game itself was a drab affair until the last 15 minutes, when Romelu Lukaku sparked a fantastic finish with two quick-fire goals. Shortly after Diego Costa received a second yellow card, a feat which was swiftly matched by Gareth Barry. Quite the ending.
So, Everton march on and Chelsea have a long drive back to London in which they can further pick apart the bones of what has been a dreadful season. But, what did we learn from the explosive 90 minutes at Goodison Park? Well, here are FIVE lessons…
In the space of just a few days Chelsea have been eliminated from the Champions League and FA Cup. When this is rolled into the fact that it’s near impossible for them to qualify for any form of European competition via the league due to their poor form all season, it becomes clear that Chelsea have nine games left to play and nothing to play for.
Blues fans must be hoping that the coming few months will fly by!
— Howler Magazine (@whatahowler) March 12, 2016
Okay, it’s all been said before… Chelsea must feel pretty silly for not giving Lukaku a chance. Granted, £28m for his signature from Everton in the summer of 2014 was excellent business, but with Diego Costa having struggled this term, it’s likely there have been some envious glances towards the blue half of Merseyside as the Belgian continues to plunder goal after goal.
Lukaku’s opening mazy effort showed all that he’s brilliant at, with the 22-year-old bulldozing in from near the touchline, bypassing defenders aplenty on his way, before drilling the ball low into the net. It wasn’t majestic, but it was effective, and minutes later he blasted another to seal the game. Point well and truly proven.
From being the talk of the transfer rumour mill last summer, Stones has been somewhat found out this season. In fairness, Everton’s open style of play doesn’t help their two centre-backs, but the England youngster has been below par in terms of form of late, and was dropped to the bench this evening by Roberto Martinez, even though it was, arguably, the Merseysiders’ biggest match of the season.
We’re certainly not writing off the starlet, but he needs to buck his ideas up.
Diego Costa spat at the refs feet and gets away with it. pic.twitter.com/nOO8dc2rFU
— Troll Football (@TrollFootball) March 12, 2016
All evening the Spaniard was playing on the ragged edge. We all know that what his game relies upon, but when he’s not performing well his actions are just embarrassing. From seemingly spitting towards referee Mike Oliver in the first half (above), Costa continued to stalk the pitch like a man possessed until just after the 80th minute it all boiled over as a clash with Gareth Barry resulted in a red card.
Considering he has such talent, it’s a shame to see the ex-Atletico Madrid man’s reputation eroded yet further.
Alexandre Pato is yet to make an appearance for Chelsea. He signed on loan for them on the 2nd February… Even if he was, as we suspect, not fully fit upon his arrival from Corinthians, surely he should be ready to play now? Alas, the Brazilian was once again nowhere to be seen, with Guus Hiddink dropping him from his match-day squad altogether, even though Diego Costa is still nursing his own fitness problems after being forced off during Wednesday’s Champions League loss against PSG.
The clock is ticking, and with Chelsea set to have another manager in charge next season, Pato has little time to prove himself.