Premier League - Everton make Wolves pay penalty
Everton got the better of Wolves with a 2-1 victory in a Premier League game of controversial penalties at Goodison Park.
While aggrieved at that decision, Everton were the beneficiaries of a debatable late penalty that saw them claim all three points as Leighton Baines converted with aplomb.
The result pulls Everton to mid-table and away from the drop zone - they had been 17th at kick-off - and two points clear of Wolves, who themselves slide to 17th.
Dutch winger Royston Drenthe had an early half-chance but his cross-shot was fielded by Wayne Hennessey, who also tipped over a Louis Saha volley and was largely in charge when tested with high balls.
But for all their vigour Wolves were not overly troubled, Drenthe particularly guilty of wasteful delivery following strong runs, while Saha often cut an isolated figure as Tim Cahill initially operated from deeper positions.
So when Wolves took the lead it was against the run of play, David Edwards’s heavy touch rewarded by a mistimed challenge from Marouane Fellaini, who marked signing a new five-year contract by giving away an unnecessary penalty that the Wales midfielder played for by sticking out a trailing leg in addition to seeing his other foot clipped.
Hunt converted the spot kick and, with nine minutes left in the half, the already-impatient home fans begun groaning with alarming regularity.
But Everton rallied and, on 44 minutes, they deservedly equalised as an England international combination saw Baines’s excellent left-wing free-kick powerfully headed home by Jagielka, whose brave lunge saw the normally imperious Johnson and Berra beaten in the air for the first time.
There were chances to take the lead before half-time too.
Drenthe missed out on a wonderful solo goal thanks to Berra’s last-gasp - and perfectly-timed - slide tackle just as the former Real Madrid man was set to pull the trigger.
And, just before the whistle, Everton were denied what appeared to be a solid penalty when Karl Henry pulled the shirt of Cahill as he was set to dive on the rebound after Hennessey kept out Fellaini’s low volley: Moss waved the appeals away when it appeared more clear-cut than Wolves’ award.
The second half picked up where the first left off as Everton came at Wolves from the off, Hennessey alert to rush out and deny Baines after the impressive Leon Osman’s defence-splitting pass.
But, as with earlier, Everton struggled to break Wolves down despite seeing a lot of the ball in wide positions.
There was a lengthy break in play as Richard Stearman rekindled a first-half rivalry with Cahill - having left the Australian needing stitches after an aerial collision on the half-hour mark, the Wolves defender landed heavily on his arm following a similar incident.
Unlike Cahill, he was unable to continue, the obvious pain on his face implying a break or serious sprain to his left wrist.
Everton continued to rule the possession charts but simply lacked the final ball, the passes too straight and the crosses too flat.
They did fashion two chances in quick succession though: on 69 minutes Cahill finished straight at Stephen Ward from close range after Saha’s flick from Seamus Coleman’s cross landed at his feet, while soon afterwards Saha was denied a tap-in by Berra’s intervention following a great run and cut-back from Drenthe.
And the hosts were rewarded for their pressure with a late penalty as soft as their rejected appeal was harsh: a succession of corners yielded the decision, with substitute George Elokobi adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Everton sub Apostolos Vellios.
With seven minutes remaining Baines made no mistake, rolling a cool finish into the bottom left as Hennessey dived the other way.
Wolves were given five minutes injury time to try and salvage an equaliser but, as for the 90 minutes, they toiled poorly, although a rash challenge by Baines on Hunt gave them a late free-kick that Jamie O’Hara curled just wide.
Everton held on, moving 12th on 13 points with a game in hand on most of the competition, with Wolves just above trouble on 11 and shorn of midfield duo Hunt and O'Hara for the match against Chelsea, both of whom picked up fifth bookings of the season for needless dissent.