English Premier round-up: Birthday to remember for Everton’s Steven Naismith

Everton get past Chelsea thanks to Naismith match-winner while Manchester City and and Stoke play to scoreless draw.

A headed goal from Everton’s Steven Naismith, centre, made all the difference against Chelsea. Peter Byrne / AP Photo
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LIVERPOOL // Jose Mourinho suffered his first defeat in his second coming as Chelsea manager as birthday boy Steven Naismith celebrated his first league start of the season in perfect fashion.

The Scotland international, who scored in the 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the season when he was last in a Premier League starting line-up, headed home the winner in first-half added time.

His goal also kick-started the Roberto Martinez era at Goodison Park after three successive draws had left the Spaniard with some convincing still to do. When asked if birthdays came any better, he told Sky Sports: “No, they don’t.

“At the start of the season competition for places is tough and unfortunately for [injured winger] Steven Pienaar it’s given the opportunity to myself and I was able to score and win the game.”

The former Rangers player said little had changed in the dressing room under new boss Roberto Martinez, who replaced David Moyes in the summer. “That’s definitely the same and I think that’s credit to the backroom staff who have shown the new boys what it means to play for Everton, and it carries on through,” he added.

Chelsea have hardly been pulling up trees like they did in Mourinho’s first spell in charge in 2004. Back then he began with four successive wins and did not taste defeat until his ninth outing in the league.

This time around it appears he is not so special with two victories, a draw and now this defeat.

The much-anticipated Premier League debut of Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o did not go to plan for the 32 year old, who was outshone by Gareth Barry making his first appearance for Everton after his deadline-day loan move from Manchester City.

The England international, out of favour at City, brings a wealth of experience greater and different to that of his fellow 32-year-old, midfield partner Leon Osman.

And it may have been his first outing with his new teammates but Barry’s positioning, reading of the game and general calmness under pressure gives the Everton a first-rate shield in front of the back four.

The key moment in a game of plenty of energy, but fewer attacking chances came with 30 seconds of one added minute remaining when Osman crossed to the far post where Nikica Jelavic managed to keep the ball alive and Naismith, who had previously fired wastefully wide from Kevin Mirallas’ shot, bundled home a header from close range.


Mark Hughes suggested Manchester City paid the price for taking Stoke too lightly after his side frustrated Manuel Pellegrini’s men at the Britannia Stadium.

Pellegrini was forced to settle for a goalless draw after a City side showing six changes failed to impose themselves.

Stoke even had the better of the game and went closest to scoring when Jonathan Walters headed a good chance wide and Joe Hart produced a good save to prevent a Matija Nastasic own goal.

Hughes, the Stoke manager, said: “I think we are disappointed we haven’t won, so that’s an illustration of how we feel the game went. City have got big games coming up, it is a busy period. Maybe they picked a team they felt could win against us, given the Champions League game in midweek.

“Maybe they prioritised the wrong game. That is the balance you have to make when you have got riches like Man City have. They didn’t quite get that right before the game. That probably helped us, looking at the team sheet.”

Hughes, who managed City between 2008 and 2009, is trying to change perceptions of Stoke as a physical and direct team and his influence was evident as they played the better football.

Hughes said: “In terms of chances created I thought we certainly had the better of those. It was probably the only thing missing from our performance, the ability to covert a chance.”

Pellegrini tried to paint the result in a positive light for City.

Since opening the season with a victory over Newcastle, City have been unconvincing but the Chilean said: “I am not disappointed but we didn’t have many chances to score. When you play away and you can’t win at least you must not lose.

“We have a complete back four out, [David] Silva out and we have the Champions League next Tuesday, so I think it is a good point for us.”


Meanwhile, in other English Premier League action, Hatem Ben Arfa made the difference for Newcastle United, scoring a goal and creating another at Aston Villa. The winger, whose strike won the game at Fulham two weeks ago, swept home in the 18th minute. Christian Benteke equalised but Newcastle clinched victory when keeper Brad Guzan spilled a fizzing Ben Arfa shot and Yoan Gouffran fired home.

Gareth McAuley scored West Brom’s first goal of the Premier League season in stoppage time to earn a draw at Fulham. The home side had looked like ending a five-match winless streak at Craven Cottage following Steve Sidwell’s first-half strike but now the run is six since the April 1 win over QPR. Twice Dimitar Berbatov netted when offside before McAuley met Chris Brunt’s corner with an emphatic header in the first of six minutes of stoppage time.

Goals in either half from Curtis Davies and Peter Whittingham ensured two of the Premier League’s newcomers shared the spoils at the KC Stadium. It was a replay of the match that ensured Hull promotion on the final day of last season, but there was significantly less drama on show this time around. Davies headed home Tom Huddlestone’s cross in the 40th minute to give Hull their first goal from open play this season, with Whittingham levelling to cap a fine Cardiff move.