Read a full match report of the Premier League game between Everton and Hull City at Goodison Park on Saturday October 19, 2013.
Everton needed a hero. Everton needed a substitution. Goodison Park was subdued. Rain began to fall, but the atmosphere had already been dampened by the performance of the home team.
Roberto Martínez introduced Steven Pienaar for Leon Osman. And within 25 seconds, the outlook changed.
Pienaar had missed Everton’s past five games because of a hamstring injury, and his return here was certainly significant. Tim Howard kicked long to Romelu Lukaku, and the move eventually led to a cross by Kevin Mirallas and Pienaar was well positioned on the far post to sweep in the winner. It was the South African’s first touch.
Martínez had previously said that Pienaar was not going to feature. “The session on Thursday was probably the moment we realised he was ready to give us a hand,” admitted the Spaniard. “He brings something really special to our side.”
The direct nature of the goal was more Moyes than Martínez. But that does not really matter. Everton certainly needed it. Before all of that, indeed, Hull City had the better chances. Three were presented from corners. Three were missed. Decisions had conspired against them too.
The first half was packed with incident. Via Mirallas, Everton took the lead from a corner which should have been a goal-kick; Danny Graham was carried off for the visitors with a serious looking knee injury; Everton’s Gareth Barry was fortunate to remain on the pitch after he launched into a tackle with Sone Aluko that had red card written all over it in marker pen - though Aluko improbably recovered to assist substitute Yannick Sagbo for Hull’s equaliser.
While Martinez blamed the conditions for Barry’s approach and commended referee Neil Swarbrick for “taking that into account”, his Hull counterpart Steve Bruce saw it quite differently. Seething, he believed it had an important bearing on the outcome of the result.
“There’s nobody who is more of an admirer of Gareth than me,” said Bruce, who also claimed Barry had touched the ball in an offside position for Mirallas’s opener. “But the challenge on Aluko is horrific. It really is the stuff of horror.”
The foundations of Hull’s first-half display were based on hard work: running and tackling, and the forcing of errors. Yet they could not maintain such intensity.
Everton, however, had not indicated they were ready to seize a victory until Pienaar’s arrival.