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MOYES EYES EURO GLORY; EUROPA LEAGUE FIRST GROUP GAME.

Byline: DAVID MADDOCK

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP I Everton 4 AEK Athens 0

FORGET the referee experiment, history was made in another small way at Goodison last night.

The easy victory allowed David Moyes to equal the record number of wins in Europe for an Everton manager.

He joins the great Harry Catterick on 11 after a dominant performance against a poor AEK Athens side. While it hardly called for the bunting to be put out, it at least hinted at the desire here to go one better than the great Blues team of the 60s by lifting a European trophy.

It would have been a perfect opening to their campaign but for the stupid late dismissal of substitute Louis Saha who had no excuse for the rather foppish flounce in the face of visiting defender Juanfran.

Three first half goals - one a screamer from Steven Pienaar - made the tie a stroll. And all Greek resistance was gone when Carlos Araujo was shown a straight red card for his malicious flick of the heel into the most tender area of Sylvain Distin's groin.

Perhaps it was revenge for the defender's impudence in scoring for Everton after 96 games without finding the net as a Portsmouth player.

Four goals from four different scorers was impressive, but it was the contribution of Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov on his full debut that was the catalyst for victory.

The pounds 9million summer signing arrived at Goodison proclaiming that he had been attracted to the club by their "contemporary, passing approach".

Well, it wasn't quite as advertised last night, but the more direct route did the trick anyway.

It was good old-fashioned football, with the English club ruthlessly exploiting AEK's glaring weakness on set-pieces for the first two goals. What was contemporary about this game was the experiment with an extra official behind each goal, but it passed off without incident until the very end - and Moyes' rather half-hearted complaint about a missed kick at Saha.

Bilyaletdinov, with his first real contribution, delivered a swirling cross that flew over the visiting keeper to allow Joseph Yobo a free header at the far post on 10 minutes.

Within seven minutes, the former Lokomotiv Moscow star delivered again, this time finding Marouane Fellaini. When his volley was blocked, Distin converted the loose ball.

His fevered celebration told the story of his drought.

Bilyaletdinov had a hand in the third goal too, passing to Pienaar who turned, looked up, and smashed a shot so hard from distance that the ball was in the back of the net before the keeper saw it.

Brazilian Jo enlivened the end of the game with a neat finish but Saha diminished it by earning a three-game ban for the silliest of reactions, but Moyes will take it as he thinks about a greater glory.

EVERTON: Howard 7, Gosling 7, Yobo 8, Distin 7, Baines 7, Cahill 7 (Osman 46, 6), Rodwell 7, Bilyaletdinov 8 (Yakubu 52, 6) Fellaini 7, Pienaar 8 (Saha 68, 6), Jo 7.

AEK: SAJA 5; Araujo 5, Geraldo 5 (Nsaliwa 13, 4, Manduca 46, 5), Arce 5, Juanfran 4; Jahic 4; Scocco 6, Kafes 4, Makos 5, Leonardo 5 (Yahaya 72, 5); Blanco 6.

REF: Robert Malek ATT: 26,747

CAPTION(S):

QUICK SYLV-ER Sylvain Distin reacts first to make it 2-0 for Everton WONDER STRIKE Pienaar
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2009
Words:558
Previous Article:DAMNING TESTIMONY BY PIQUET; F1: CRASHGATE.
Next Article:MOYES: THIS PLAN IS REFFIN' MADNESS.


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