James Beattie continued his outstanding form of form with a brace that underpinned another comfortable win for Everton over Fulham at Goodison Park this afternoon.
Beattie battered home a penalty and a sumptuous chip – taking his goals haul for the season to eleven – as Everton eased to a sixth straight home win. James McFadden lashed in a volley from thirty yards before Collins John converted a late penalty, but that wasn’t much consolation for Fulham. Chris Coleman’s side are still to win away from home this season and are only eight points above Birmingham City, who have a game in hand, with fixtures against Liverpool and Chelsea next up.
Everton made all the early running with Mikel Arteta storming down the left and supplying a dangerous cross that flashed across the face of the Fulham goal in the third minute. That set the tempo for an afternoon of almost incessant Everton pressure. It was no surprise when they took the lead after thirteen minutes, with Beattie clattered from behind by Zat Knight. The England international sent Tony Warner the wrong way from the spot and almost had a second when he glanced Nuno Valente’s cross narrowly wide.
Alan Stubbs went close from a corner before the lively Arteta drew a smart save from Warner after working a one-two at pace with Phul Neville. Beattie, picking the perfect moment to impress the watching Sven-Goran Eriksson, chipped Warner from the edge of the area to double Everton’s lead eight minutes before the break – it was a deft effort, but brilliant all the same.
Fulham had only offered a blocked free kick from former Everton forward Brian McBride and a tame header from Knight as evidence of their attacking ambitions in the first half. They were even more apologetic after the interval with Warner making fine saves from Arteta and Leon Osman before Scottish winger McFadden thumped a long-range strike past a helpless Fulham goalkeeper to make it three.
Warner continued to keep the scoreline down impressively, denying Osman and Arteta from distance, and when he was beaten by Steve Watson, a deflection carried the ball wide. Fulham did get a goal back five minutes from time when Tony Hibbert caught John in the area and the Dutch forward picked himself up to convert the penalty. The visitors belatedly took the attack to Everton with McBride denied by an excellent save from the underemployed Wright, but it was far too little, far too late.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Wright; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Nuno Valente (Davies 77); Osman, Cahill (Van der Meyde 83),Neville, Arteta, McFadden (Kilbane 77); Beattie. Subs (not used): Westerveld, Yobo.
BOOKED: Neville, Stubbs.
GOALS: Beattie (pen 14, 36), McFadden (55).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Warner; Volz, Rosenior, Knight, Bocanegra; Elliott (Christanval 43), Pembridge, Malbranque, Boa Morte; McBride, Helguson (John 74). Subs (not used): Crossley, Goma, N. Jensen.
BOOKED: Rosenior, Bocanegra.
REFEREE: Uriah Rennie (South Yorkshire)