Everton 0 Charlton Athletic 1

Last updated : 17 January 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Charlton Athletic showed there may be life after Scott Parker with a well-earned 1-0 victory over Everton.

The Londoners took the lead in the 40th minute thanks to the tricky feet of Italian veteran Paolo di Canio.

The 35-year-old Roman created the opening when he took the ball to the edge of the Everton 18-yard area with only David Unsworth to beat.

There was only going to be one winner - it was like paring Muhammed Ali against a fairground thumper as the forward bamboozled and outfoxed the big Everton centre-back without even moving the ball.

And when he felt his series of dummies and feints had confused Unsworth enough, the Italian launched a superbly weighted cross into the penalty area.

Charlton's two tall forwards - Carlton Cole and Jason Euell - battled for possession, but when the ball bounced off Alan Stubbs' chest it was little Graham Stuart who was there to poke it home.

Stuart has gone down in Everton folklore as scoring the goal that saved them from relegation, but his loyalties now lie with high-flying Charlton and he showed no hesitation to grab his second goal of the season." The lead was against the run of play though, as Everton dominated the first half.

They showed their intent to take the game to the Addicks from the off.

Manager David Moyes made five changes to the side beaten by Fulham, the most telling being Duncan Ferguson, who at last seems to be hitting the form that once made him a legend at the club.

His skill in the air was matched by his technique on the ground and he was a constant menace to the Charlton back four.

In the 18th minute he should have given his side the lead after winning the ball in the 18-yard box and knocking it down to Francis Jeffers, who turned to give himself space and laid it back to Ferguson, whose shot was deflected wide.

On the half-hour mark, the big Scot again rose to create a chance- giving Jeffers space to tee-up a shot.

But as the on-loan striker was about to pull the trigger, he was tackled and the clearance fell to Thomas Gravesen, who fired over the bar.

Charlton's only reply to Everton's pressure was a hopeful long shot from Euell until Di Canio and Stuart combined for the 40th minute goal.

Everton immediately tried to come back with a long distance shot from Wayne Rooney, but the Londoners were roused by their goal and should have doubled their lead just before the half-time whistle.

Cole fired a shot across goal but the incoming Euell fired the ball wide and Charlton went into the break 1-0 up.

As much as the Toffees huffed and puffed in the second half they had nothing in their armoury to break down the solid Charlton defence.

In the 60th minute despite the play being firmly entrenched in the Charlton end, the hosts could not create a chance on goal.

Radostin Kishishev in particular was a rock, stubbing out any sign of danger until Kevin Kilbane crossed from the left byline for Ferguson to power towards goal.

Dean Kiely was beaten but South African Mark Fish was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Stubbs then tried a powerful 25-yard drive and a minute later, Alessandro Pistone's cross gave Lee Carsley space to head towards goal, but Kiely got down well and kept the ball out at the far post.

Rooney's 30-yard free-kick was saved before Gravesen's deflected shot was kicked away by the keeper.

However, Charlton's dogged determination meant they held on for a well-earned victory.

They never really gave the home side any time and space to cause them much danger and their solid display keeps their hopes of gracing the biggest stage in Europe alive.

But for Everton, they are once again being sucked into an ugly relegation battle and their lack of creative spark must be worrying Moyes.

The Scottish coach had five fully-fit strikers, all vying for a place, but they cannot buy a goal at the minute.

His side fire in crosses and high balls for Ferguson to win, but there is no wit, invention or cleverness to their play, and it is more a case of hit and hope.

Surely only a loosening of the purse strings and a dip into the transfer market can solve this long-standing problem.

But for Charlton, they have shown that even without their best player they can still grind out results and if Parker does leave for Chelsea in a £10million deal, the money could easily help towards a push for European qualification.

After the game, Moyes reflected on the defeat, saying he could not complain about the commitment of his players.

"I thought the boys did ok," he said. "They worked hard and had more crosses, more balls into the box and more chances, but not more goals.

"It was just a little bit of laxness for their goal. But overall the players have done terrifically well to try and get the goal back.

"I'm not down. If you get the effort and commitment we got today then you can't complain.

"That's all any manager can expect of his players." Alan Curbishley was thrilled to put a gap between his side and their near rivals.

He said: "It was vitally important we got ourselves in front because it gives you something to hold on to.

The players knew it was a massive game for us because Liverpool had a tough away game at Spurs and we opened ourselves a gap." And speaking of the unsettled midfielder Scott Parker he said: "Scotty is one of our best players and its been a difficult week and he has, quite rightly, been unsettled by all the speculation.

"Ive known Scotty since he was 12 and I dont blame him at all.

"But if he is not focused you will not get a good performance out of him. Let's see what next week brings." Man-Of-The-Match: Radostin Kishishev, his tireless running, all action tackling and ability to read the game kept Everton's front line at bay helping to secure the Addicks a well earned victory.