Everton 1 - 1 Chelsea

By Mark Wiltshire

Ten-man Chelseas dying interest in claiming the Premiership title was given a late, late lifeline as Tore Andre Flos last minute left foot volley claimed a point at Goodison Park.

Gianluca Vialli must have resigned himself to targeting success in Europe as a means of rescuing his clubs season the scene of some of Chelseas best performances this season - as defeat would have left them 13 points adrift at the top of the Premiership.

Now lying in ninth position with two games in hand, they cannot be ruled out of the championship race thanks to the tall Norwegian striker who benefited from a favourable ricochet six yards out as Everton panicked and failed to clear. The ball popped up nicely and he was able to find the bottom corner.

Kevin Campbell put Everton in the driving seat in a gripping Premiership clash after 15 minutes and looked certain to hold on as Frank Leboeuf, responsible for the goal, was then sent off for two bookable offences.

Ironically, Flo had the first chance of the game but was well denied after being put clean through. Gerrard was alert enough to come rushing out and blocked the Norwegians shot.

Barely a minute later, another striker was guilty of squandering a great chance when Jeffers, unmarked, toed his shot just inches wide from a Barmby cross.

The breakthrough was made after 15 minutes when the Chelsea defence seemed all at sea as Kevin Campbell claimed his eighth goal of the season.

Frank Leboeuf was caught out of position, dragged to a left-back position to try and stop an Alex Cleland cross from finding a blue shirt in the penalty box.

Everton capitalised on the Frenchmans error of judgement. Jeffers linked up well with Campbell who found himself in acres of space and, after sensibly taking his time, slotted home his fifth goal in his last four matches.

The disgust from Gianluca Vialli and his assistant Graham Rix at Leboeufs mistake was clearly evident down on the touchline. Their mood nearly improved when Petrescu beat his team mate Desailly to an inswinging Di Matteo free-kick but couldnt keep it down.

Flo wasted another great chance to score after 26 minutes following a splendid counter attack. Albert Ferrer fed Dan Petrescu down the right-flank that the Romanian galloped onto before crossing for Flo in the middle but his header was well saved by Gerrard at point blank range.

The pace and tempo of the game was very fast and the excitement levels were very high. The challenges were also beginning to fly about and Chris Sutton and Don Hutchison were booked for their over exuberance.

Hutchison displayed that not only does he possess a fiery temper but also a fine footballing brain and impressive technique that England know all about after Wednesdays game. He fired in a sparkling right-footed volley that had Ed De Goey in a panic but thankfully for the tall Dutchman, the ball flew just over the bar.

The game continued to be played at a fast and furious pace but it was in the midfield where Everton had the upper hand. The combination of Mark Pembridge and Hutchison were really unsettling the more illustrious names of Didier Deschamps and Roberto Di Matteo, winning tackles and breaking up promising Chelsea attacks.

Di Matteo, just returning from injury himself, was introduced into the action from the substitutes bench very early when Gabriele Ambrosetti pulled a hamstring in the first minute.

Frank Leboeufs afternoon failed to get better, in fact it got considerably worse. After being responsible for the opening goal, he received his marching orders in the 64th minute for two yellow cards and really had only himself to blame.

For a recognised international player with a World Cup winners medal on his mantelpiece at home, he should really have the intelligence to realise that any tackle from behind would result in a booking.

Knowing that and also aware he was already walking on a tightrope with the officials after being cautioned in the first-half, the Frenchman inexplicably lunged through the back of Nick Barmby, leaving referee Mark Halsey with no other option but to send the defender off.

Vialli was forced into making a tactical change and Chris Sutton was brought back to play centre-half in the absence of Leboeuf whilst Zola was given his chance to produce a bit of magic alongside Flo.

Chelsea were managing to find the Italians feet and since his introduction they looked livelier but the numerical disadvantage was evident in the midfield area. The frustration was etched on the faces of the Chelsea players as they witnessed their Premiership hopes go up in smoke.

The second half was not pretty but Walter Smith must have been impressed with the tireless performance from his team who looked capable of adding to their one goal advantage through the pacey Jeffers and Campbell.

Abel Xavier had a free header on the far post saved by Ed de Goey and Pembridge saw a 10-yard shot blocked following a Barmby cross. Richard Gough was also unlucky to see his glancing header from a corner narrowly miss the target.

The importance of those misses was highlighted in the 90th minute when Flo grabbed a dramatic equaliser as Everton maintained their unbeaten run at home stretching ten games.

Everton: Gerrard, Unsworth, Gough, Dunne, Cleland, Barmby, Hutchison, Pembridge, Xavier, Jeffers, Campbell.
Subs Not Used: Ball, Collins, Gemmill, Grant, Simonsen.
Booked: Hutchison, Pembridge.
Goals: Campbell 15.

Chelsea: De Goey, Babayaro, Desailly, Leboeuf, Ferrer (Hogh 81), Ambrosetti (Di Matteo 2), Deschamps, Morris, Petrescu (Zola 51), Flo, Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Harley.
Sent Off: Leboeuf (56).
Booked: Sutton, Leboeuf, Ferrer.
Goals: Flo 90.
Att: 38,225

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)