AMSTERDAM — Landon Donovan notched another assist and Tim Howard extended his Goodison Park shutout run to 256 minutes as Everton climbed into the better half of the EPL table with a 2-0 victory over visiting Chelsea on Saturday afternoon.
Two years and one day ago, the Toffees scored a 2-1 home win over Chelsea that included another Donovan assist. With four saves and some heady cross management, Howard ensured Everton did it one better this time. The US No. 1 has now won three straight home league clashes with the Blues.
Not long after Donovan whistled a shot by the post on four minutes, the home side took the lead through fellow loan returnee Steven Pienaar. The LA Galaxy midfielder made a bid to double the lead on 18 minutes, testing Chelsea netminder Petr Cech with a left-footed drive from long range.
The visitors gradually took control of first half play, but — in part aided by Donovan tracking back faithfully to defend — Everton allowed precious few open looks at Howard's goal. The Toffees goalkeeper denied Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Torres before the break, then repeated the feat on Spain's struggling striker past the hour.
With 19 minutes to play, Donovan wiggled his way toward the Chelsea box before expertly slipping Denis Stracqualursi in to fire the first goal of his EPL career. His insurance set-up gave the Everton No. 9 shirt a third assist in the last five league games and six in nine matches across all competitions since returning to the club last month.
In winning consecutive home games for the first time this season, Everton pulled level on points with ninth-place Sunderland. The Toffees are now unbeaten in six heading into next weekend's FA Cup round-of-16 visit from regional rivals Blackpool.
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