News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Wayne Rooney-less Everton hold Chelsea

Everton’s Pickford makes another save against Chelsea

Everton held English Premier League Champions Chelsea  goalless in the first game played at Goodison Park today.

Without their in-form forward Wayne Rooney, the team were able to soak up the pressure by the Londoners, in a top-of-the-bill match watched by close to 40,000 people.

Chelsea clearly dominated the match with eight shots on target to Everton’s one and had ball possession advantage of 68 to 32. But their efforts to hit the net were frustrated by Everton’s keeper Jordan Pickford, who blocked them.

Rooney was left out of the Everton squad  due to illness.

The 32  year-old midfielder  has scored six goals in his last five league games as Everton have climbed to ninth place in the table under new manager Sam Allardyce.

Democratic Republic of Congo winger Yannick Bolasie was named on Everton’s bench for the first time since sustaining a cruciate knee ligament injury in December 2016.

With striker Alvaro Morata missing through suspension, Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte named Eden Hazard as his centre forward. Nigeria’s Victor Moses also starred in the starting line up.

The result today saw Everton maintaining their  9th position in the League, with Chelsea, also staying third 3rd, 13 points behind runaway leaders Man City, who will play later today.

Sam Allardyce said at the end of the pulsating encounter: “It was hard earned, I think in terms of effort and commitment and defensive organisation, we’ve played against a hugely talented team. We’ve had a bit of luck, and when needed, Jordan Pickford was in the right spot for us. We rolled up our sleeves and dug in. We could have snatched it at the end, but it’s a well earned point and well grafted out by the players – it keeps the unbeaten run going”.

Pickford who frustrated Chelsea efforts remarked: “I thought we grafted like hell and dug in until the end. We had a good couple of chances, we kept a clean sheet against the champions – it shows great character. We didn’t look like we were going to get beat, and that’s what we want as a team. We knew we needed one game, and the confidence came back against West Ham – we’ve shown we’re capable of doing bigger things”