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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Everton 2-1 Wigan
By Phil McNulty

Andrew Johnsono congratulates Everton goalscorer Leon Osman
Andrew Johnson congratulates Everton goalscorer Leon Osman
Victor Anichebe's scrambled goal ensured Everton picked up an opening day victory against battling Wigan.

Leon Osman's looping header gave Everton the lead after 26 minutes of a colourless affair.

And young striker Anichebe wrapped up the win with 15 minutes left, scoring via the bar from six yards after good work from Andrew Johnson.

Wigan pulled a goal back late on from substitute Antoine Sibierkski, but Everton held on to claim the points.

Everton boss David Moyes left new boys Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar on the bench, while Leighton Baines was unable to face former club Wigan because of a hamstring injury.

GJ Blue

Wigan counterpart Chris Hutchings gave four of his summer acquisitions, Mario Melchiot, Jason Koumas Titus Bramble and Andreas Granqvist, their first starts.

In an evenly-contested first 45 minutes, Mikel Arteta was the outstanding performer, giving makeshift left-back Kevin Kilbane a torrid time.

Everton took the lead after 26 minutes, when Osman sent a header dipping over Chris Kirkland from Tony Hibbert's cross.

Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey was Wigan's main threat, sending in a downward header that was held on the line by Tim Howard, then shooting narrowly wide from 20 yards.

Johnson saw a shot well saved by Kirkland, while referee Mark Clattenburg correctly waved away Everton penalty appeals when Arteta tumbled under challenge from Titus Bramble.

The game was low on quality and was summed up by a goalmouth scrap that almost ended with Everton doubling their lead after 61 minutes.

Kirkland failed to hold Arteta's free-kick under challenge from Anichebe, and Granqvist blocked Osman's effort on the line.

Wigan were still in contention and almost levelled five minutes later when Koumas' curling effort drifted just wide.

Everton attempted to push home their advantage with 16 minutes left, sending on Pienaar for his debut in place of Osman.

And within seconds Everton were two up, Johnson turning before unselfishly setting up Anichebe to score via the bar from six yards.

Everton were now in control and Kirkland did well to block a stinging drive from Arteta.

But substitute Sibierski threw Wigan a lifeline with 10 minutes left, turning in Paul Scharner's cross from close range.

Everton had anxious moments late on, but survived for a victory they just about merited.

  • Everton manager David Moyes:
    "I thought we played well. It was a good performance - I told the players I wanted a solid start and a win and we got it.

    "Leon Osman's header was terrific. He was very clever in getting it in the only place he could score.

    "When it was 2-0 I thought it would have been a case of us getting a third rather than Wigan pulling one back, but you have to give them credit for battling on."

  • Wigan manager Chris Hutchings:
    "We went behind to what we felt was a lucky goal, but they all count. Then we had a good spell and couldn't score.

    "And what you mustn't then do is to allow Andy Johnson time to turn in the box and play a pass across like he did, the goals we conceded were poor.

    "New players, particularly in defence, take time to gel. But we were still far from happy with the goals we conceded.

    "But I felt we did well. Jason Koumas on his debut was excellent, he is the sort of player who has you on the edge of your seat in expectation."

    Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Yobo, Stubbs, Lescott, Osman (Pienaar 73), Carsley, Neville, Arteta, Johnson, Anichebe.
    Subs Not Used: Ruddy, Van der Meyde, Jagielka, Nuno Valente.

    Goals: Osman 26, Anichebe 75.

    Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Granqvist, Kilbane, Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Koumas, Heskey, Folan (Sibierski 66).
    Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Hall, Aghahowa, Skoko.

    Goals: Sibierski 80.

    Att: 39,220

    Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Co Durham).

    Saturday's football photos
    11 Aug 07 |  Premier League
    Live - Premier League
    11 Aug 07 |  Premier League


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