There will be some who tell you that Everton's trip to Swansea City was a brilliant match. It wasn't. It did, however, contain a brilliant half, full of incredible chances, brilliant goals, and jam-packed with drama; a late free kick from Ross Barkley securing a 2-1 win for the Toffees.
The less said about the first half the better (the only incident of note was a penalty shout after an awkward Ashley Williams challenge sent Barkley tumbling), so we'll mosey past the dull bits and get straight to the good part. After the break, Everton decided that frustratingly competent football wasn't getting anyone anywhere, and, inspired by the relentless running of right back Seamus Coleman, started putting serious pressure on their hosts.
The first hint of danger arrived when Steven Pienaar bisected the Swans defence with a brilliant diagonal to Barkley. The move, however, was foiled by the starlet forgetting how legs worked -- instead of shooting and giving us the opening goal, Barkley got his feet tangled up and went down in a bemused heap.
But despite the comical way in which the Toffees spurned their first real chance, the pressure they were putting on Gerhard Tremmel's goal was no joke. Gareth Barry hooked a volley over from a promising position, and it took a great save from the keeper to deflect a long-range piledriver from Barkley onto the crossbar and behind.
There would be nothing he could do to keep out Coleman's strike, however. From the corner, McCarthy found the right back, who cut inside and unleashed a 25-yard shot which would have been described as 'optimistic' had that adjective not been utterly superceded by 'unstoppable death-laseresque'. Tremmel was beaten at his near post, which is probably fortunate for him because he'd have lost an arm had he been anywhere near it.
Swansea's equaliser was far less fun, but it counted just the same. Having been on the back foot all half, the hosts finally put together something approximating an attack. Ben Davies launched a cross to the back post which Pienaar should have cleared easily. Instead, the winger fell asleep, allowing Dwight Tiendalli to nip inside and get a touch on the ball. The shot would have gone well wide had it not hit Bryan Oviedo, who managed to deflect it past a wrong-footed Tim Howard.
The game was back on level terms, but both sides were still looking for all three points. Alvaro Vasquez, on for the disappointing Wilfried Bony, had a glorious chance to put the Swans ahead, but his attempt to chip Howard went horribly wrong. It was a mistake the hosts would soon regret -- Everton re-established their lead a minute later.
Ben Davies ended a Toffees counterattack by barging James McCarthy in the back, leading to a dangerous free kick 30 yards from goal. Romelu Lukaku and Barkley stood over the ball, with the Belgium international eventually deferring to his teammate. It was the right choice. Barkley's shot was perfect, slamming off the underside of the crossbar and sending the visiting fans into joyous delirium.
Everton hardly had a comfortable finish to the match. Howard produced an excellent flying save to keep out Roland Lamah's volley, and seconds later Vasquez somehow failed to make contact with a bouncing ball four yards from goal following a botched overhead clearance by Sylvain Distin. But the Swans failed to get another, and the points were (just barely) safe.
Swansea City starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Gerhard Tremmel; Ben Davies, Ashley Williams, Chico Flores, Dwight Tiendalli; Jose Canas, Jonathan de Guzman (Alex Pozuelo 86'); Wayne Routledge , Jonjo Shelvey, Pablo Hernandez; Wilfied Bony (Alvaro Vasquez 76').
Goals: Oviedo og 70'.
Everton starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard; Bryan Oviedo, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman; Gareth Barry, James McCarthy; Steven Pienaar (Steven Naismith 78'), Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas (Leon Osman 78'); Romelu Lukaku.
Goals: Coleman 66', Barkley 84'.