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  • By Julian Taylor at Goodison Park

Cottagers carve out Carabao semi-final spot with dramatic shoot out victory to stun Everton



Everton 1 Fulham 1

(Fulham win 7-6 on penalties)


Julian Taylor at Goodison Park


Marco Silva's return to his former club ended in drama - with Fulham prevailing in a sudden death penalty shoot out against Everton at Goodison Park to reach the Carabao Cup semi final.


The Londoners held their nerve in a tie which ebbed and flowed, although Everton can consider themselves unfortunate on a night when they asserted themselves to a greater degree, only to fail from 12 yards out.


Fulham's season continues on an upward curve. Comfortable mid-table Premier League consolidation is now in tandem with a terrific cup run. This campaign holds so much possibility for the Cottagers who continue to defy early season doubters.


Silva's men looked disciplined and organised for the bulk of a feisty tie at - until a mess of their own making when a basic failure to clear the ball helped Everton level in the 81st minute through a header by substitue Beto.


The Cottagers had gone in front earlier via an own goal by unfortunate home defender Michael Keane in the 40th minute. And it looked like that was going to be enough.


What the clash lacked in craft was at least matched by Fulham's resolve, where both Tosin - who nailed the ultimate penalty - and Calvin Bassey were superb at the back, especially in the gritty second hallf for the west Londoners.


The tie was anticipated to be free flowing and even entertaining in the build up. Fulham were content to sit back and absorb pressure for much of the contest but Everton's efforts - as frustrating as they were for the Goodison Park crowd - merited their late equaliser.


As a measure of how seriously both sides were taking the competition - as well as the fact it was a quarter-final - the respective lineups had a strong appearance to them.


Fulham travelled to Merseyside without Raul Jimenez, who was suspended due to a recklessly induced red card of the weekend defeat at Newcastle United. Harrison Reed took the captain's armband for what was expected to be a tight Mersey mission.


Notable


While SIlva made all the right diplomatic noises about returning to the stadium of his former employer, the quarter final was a chance for the Portuguese to help end Everton's recent five match unbeaten run, which has cleared them away from the relegation zone. Considering the effects of the recent 10 point FFP deduction imposed on the Toffees this has been a notable feat.


There was a rather delicate start, with perhaps Fulham's early bulwark a strong reaction to their listless defending which consigned them to a 3-0 loss at Newcastle.


The first real opportunity of note arrived for Everton in the 23rd minute when Dwight McNeil fired an angled shot just over the bar. It was a decent statement of intent from the Toffees which got the home fans off their seats - and a warning shot for Fulham to start asserting themselves.


Everton were building up a head of steam throughout the first half and Bernd Leno was certainly the busier of the two goalkeepers. Yet the Toffees' were haphazard for the majority of the tie.


The cautious Cottagers were content to soak up the intermittent pressure served up by Sean Dyche's outfit, where the intent was, in all probability, to hit on the counter-attack. Even that though, requires an element of momentum which was eluding Fulham for long spells.


Willian did go close with an impudent free kick from 20 yards which raced inches wide of Everton keeper Jordan Pickford's post.


Effect


The wait wasn't long for Fulham though - they went ahead rather fortuitously, five minutes from the break. From a racing move upfield, Willian crossed from the left, with Keane, distracted by the presence of Alex Iwobi, tucked the ball into his own net from close range. The conservative Silva game plan was clearly taking some effect at exactly the right time.


Everton's anticipated intensity to grab an equaliser at the start of the second half largely failed to materialise, with Dyche clearly frustrated at some of the officiating. All good news, for the Cottagers, of course, happy to allow Rodrigo Muniz to forage solo up front.


Jack Harrison did go close for the Blues, with a shot which whistled just past the post. But Everton really needed to create more havoc in the final third and make some capital.


Silva sent on Tom Cairney for Willian just after the hour mark to add some calm to the tetchy midfield battles, with Fulham being pressed into increasing rearguard action.


Desperation


Nevertheless elements of desperation were slipping into Everton's approach; the Toffees simply were not driven or confident enough in and around the visitors' penalty area.


Pickford, meanwhile, turned away a fine Iwobi shot from distance which would have killed the game off.


Finally, Fulham's resistance was ended nine minutes from the end. A failure to get rid of a loose ball by Antonee Robinson resulted in the hosts spinning the ball back into the six yard area, where Beto was lurking to power in a header to level.


Naturally, the Toffees took heart amid a grandstand finish, the vocal home support increasingly amplified. However, the night was to be decided by spot kicks. Could Fulham keep their nerve, like they had done so for most of the previous 90 minutes?


Andreas Pereira, Tom Cairney, Joao Palhinha all converted from the spot - but Bobby Decordova Reid's effort was saved by Pickford.


Amadou Onana's tame penalty was saved by Leno as the drama took an extra twist, as Everton missed their big chance.


So, to sudden death - Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson converted while Idrissa Gana Gueye hit the post for Everton.


The night all came down to Tosin, who kept his cool to stroke the ball home - and Fulham's season now goes up yet another level, with Wembley in sight.


Cottagers: Leno, Tete, Bassey,Tosin, Reed (Pereira 76), Wilson (Decordova-Reid 76), Muniz (VInicius 85), Willian (Cairney 61), Iwob (Diop 85)i, Palhinha, Robinson

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