Hoolahan punishes profligate Everton

Norwich, December 12

Wes Hoolahan’s scruffy equaliser prevented Everton from gaining on the Premier League’s leading sides as Roberto Martinez’s men were held to a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Victory would have taken Everton to within a point of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, but after Romelu Lukaku gave them a 15th-minute lead, they squandered a glut of opportunities to extend their advantage.

Hoolahan duly levelled the scores early in the second half, scuffing in from close range to consign Everton to a third consecutive draw and inch Norwich a point clear of the relegation places. Alex Neil’s side might have emerged with all three points, only for Cameron Jerome to produce a miss with 20 minutes remaining, hoisting the ball over bar from Hoolahan’s flick.

Gerard Deulofeu signalled Everton’s ambition with an early driving run into the Norwich box and after Lukaku had dragged a shot wide, the Belgium striker put the visitors ahead. Norwich’s Martin Olsson’s panicky clearance went straight to Deulofeu and the winger arced a cross to the back post, where Lukaku charged in to head home.

It was Lukaku’s 15th goal of the season, and made him the first Everton player since Bob Latchford in 1975 to score in seven consecutive games. With Norwich’s defence all at sea, a second Everton goal seemed a matter of time. Declan Rudd rushed out to save from Arouna Kone, before Lukaku somehow failed to turn the ball into an open goal from Tom Cleverley’s right-wing cross.