On Sunday 3rd August, I went to Goodison Park to watch Everton play Porto in a Pre-Season Friendly match.
Liverpool is one of my favourite places in England. It is perfect for a lover of football and/or The Beatles, which makes it an ideal destination for myself as I am a big fan of both! In what has become a regular occurrence in recent years I was spending a few days in the city and, having visited Anfield to watch Liverpool v Bayer Leverkusen a couple of years ago, this time we made sure our trip coincided with a friendly involving the blue half…Everton!
The fixture saw Everton take on 27-times Portugese champions Porto in a friendly at Goodison Park. Having arrived in Liverpool a few hours earlier, we were heading through the city when by pure chance we spotted the Porto team coach parked outside the Hilton Hotel. Moments later the players were heading out of the hotel entrance creating an unmissable opportunity to get photos with some world-class footballers, many of whom had played in the recent World Cup, including the likes of Bruno Martins Indi (Holland) and Jackson Martinez (Colombia).
Following this stroke of luck we jumped in a taxi and made the short journey to Goodison Park. The stadium has been home to Everton FC since 1892 and is a place steeped in history. Goodison played host to England a total of eight times between 1895 and 1953, as well as a further time in 1973 although Northern Ireland were technically classed as the home team on that occasion. The ground also hosted one FA Cup final way back in 1894 while it was also one of the eight venues for the 1966 World Cup, with five matches being played there including the semi-final between West Germany and Soviet Union. On a personal note, it was one of the few major stadiums left in England that I had not witnessed a game at, although I had made a brief visit back in 2009, and so I was highly looking forward to this afternoon’s visit for the game against Porto.
After spending some time soaking up the matchday atmosphere, we made our way through the turnstiles took our seats in the Main Stand as the kick off time approached. As the players came out of the tunnel they formed a guard of honour to welcome Leon Osman. This afternoon’s match was also the 33-year old Everton man’s testimonial. Osman has been at The Toffees his entire career, making over 300 appearances for the club since he joined in 2000 and so he thoroughly deserves this gesture.
Everton started the contest strongly and it looked for a moment as if they had opened the scoring inside the first three minutes, but Steven Naismith’s ‘goal’ was quickly ruled out by the assistant for offside. England youngster Ross Barkley forced a good save from the Porto goalkeeper shortly after with a strike from distance.
The contest was highly competitive but the nature of the game was highlighted around 20 minutes in when Everton replaced Tim Howard with substitute goalkeeper Joel Robles. And the Spanish stopper was almost called in to action straight away when Ricardo Quaresma hit a powerful shot just inches wide of the target.
After a slow start from Porto, the visitors began to grow in to the game and control the play although they struggled to create any clear cut chances despite all the posession and set pieces. With three minutes to go until the break, the Toffees made them pay for this by taking the lead. A poor throw from Porto ‘keeper Fabiano fell straight to Aiden McGeady, who quickly found Naismith and the Scotsman calmly slotted home.
The interval saw Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku unveiled to the fans after completing his £28 million permanent transfer from Chelsea. Lukaku scored 15 goals for Everton last season during a loan spell and he decided to come to Goodison Park on a permanent basis this summer, the striker receiving a hero’s welcome from the supporters this afternoon.
Both sides made a number of substitutions during the half time break. For the Portugese side this included the introduction of Colombian Jackson Martinez, who had a huge impact on the game.
Just 10 minutes in to the second period and Martinez found the net for Porto with a driven effort to level the score at 1-1. Shortly after, the Colombian got on the end of a dangerous shot but couldn’t keep his attempt on target before a near-post header again went just yards wide of the target.
At the other end, Tyias Browning forced a desperate save from Fabiano before Osman almost made it the perfect conclusion with a diving header but he couldn’t find the net. Osman was then replaced in the final moments to a huge applause from everyone inside the ground before the game came to an end with the scores tied.
It was an entertaining afternoon watching Everton and I am delighted to have finally ticked off the famous Goodison Park properly at last!
Everton 1-1 Porto
Naismith ’42, Martinez ’57
Howard (Robles ’19), Hibbert, Bains (Browning ’54), Jagielka (Stones ’54), McGeady (Hope ’86), Naismith (Long ’85), Barry, Barkley (McCarthy ’46), Osman (McAleny ’86), Pienaar (Besic ’46), Alcaraz (Distin ’46)
Fabiano, Danilo (Opare ’87), Martins Indi, Maicon (Reyes ’76), Quaresma (Brahimi ’46), Evandro (Quintero ’54), Herrera (Eduardo ’76), Adrian Lopez (Tello ’54), Alex Sandro (Angel ’76), Oliver Torres (Martinez ’46), Neves (Casemiro ’54)