Premier League - Everton held by dogged Swansea

Premier League, Goodison Park – Everton 0 Swansea 0

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Premier League - Everton held by dogged Swansea
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Swansea City's Nathan Dyer (left) and Everton's Leon Osman battle for the ball (PA Sport)

Everton were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw in their Premier League clash against Swansea at Goodison Park.

Both sides had plenty of chances to break the deadlock, particularly in the opening period, with Michu's lob on to the cross bar on the half-hour mark the closest either side came to a goal.

The home side dominated possession as the game wore on, but Swansea's dogged defending proved a match for everything that was thrown at them.

Everton went into the match on the back of a run of 16 league games in which both they and their opponents had scored - a tally last recorded in the top flight over 40 years ago.

It was therefore little surprise that the match quickly became an open, attacking affair despite the two sides' differing approaches: David Moyes's Everton concentrated on long diagonal balls and runs up the flanks by the ever-dangerous Seamus Coleman and Steven Pienaar, while Swansea tried to tiki-taka their way through the middle or hit on the break.

It was Everton whose approach seemed likeliest to bear fruit early on, and after just 10 minutes Nikica Jelavic came within a whisker of opening the scoring. A long ball in by Pienaar on the left drifted past all the Swansea defenders to find Jelavic at the far post, and though the former Rangers star hit his shot poorly, the ball trundled inches wide of the far post.

The same player came close again six minutes later with a wonderful glancing header from a Leighton Baines corner, but Dwight Tiendalli had stayed tight to his far post and was able to clear as the ball headed for the bottom corner.

Swansea needed another goalline clearance to stay on terms when Ashley Williams denied Victor Anichebe in similar fashion just after the half-hour mark.

The best chance fell at the other end, however, as a delightful long pass by Kemy Agustien found Michu running into the box at full tilt. The Spanish star shot first time with his left foot and the lob fell agonisingly on to the crossbar with national team coach Vicente del Bosque watching in the crowd.

The Toffees charged out after half-time looking determined to end the goal drought, and kept Swansea pegged back into the final third of the pitch for almost the entire second period.

Yet throughout wave after wave of attacks via both flanks, Swansea's defence - and their superb goalkeeper Michel Vorm in particular - held firm.

Pienaar and Coleman both sent in several crosses, with Vorm stealing the ball almost off the forehead of Jelavic after 55 minutes and the Croatian attempting an overhead kick in desperation soon afterwards. He missed the ball completely.

If that effort was desperate, even more so were the shouts of "penalty!" from the crowd when Jelavic went down merely in the vicinity of Williams in the box.

Yet as much as they did, Everton should have done more. Their pressure earned them a string of corners in the second half, and clear chances came: Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin connected well with free headers only to see their efforts fly just over the bar, while Marouane Fellaini's header in the final minutes was blocked only by an astonishing reaction save by Vorm.

Swansea barely visited the other end of the pitch as it seemed increasingly obvious they were more than happy to leave with a point.

The frustration their approach produced boiled over among both sets of players, with five men going into the book in the second half as Phil Dowd struggled to keep control.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Michel Vorm (Swansea): His injury lay-off has clearly done the goalkeeper no harm whatsoever. Did not put a foot or hand wrong all afternoon, taking every high ball confidently and denying Marouane Fellaini a late winner with an astonishing reaction save.

PLAYER RATINGS

Everton: Howard 7, Baines 8, Jagielka 6, Jelavic 6, Distin 6, Neville 4, Osman 7, Pienaar 7, Coleman 8, Fellaini 5, Anichebe 5. Subs: Naismith 6, Vellios n/a.

Swansea: Vorm 9, Chico Flores 7, Williams 8, Tiendalli 8, Rangel 6, Ki 5, Agustien 7, Michu 6, Dyer 5, Hernandez 6, Davies 5. Subs: Graham n/a, Routledge 6, de Guzman 7.

MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS

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