Shearer sums it up

Last updated : 07 April 2003 By Martyn Elliott

"It was a coward's challenge by Gravesen because Olivier went to win the ball and did win it, and Gravesen went in to hurt him and he hurt him badly," he said.

"It is a challenge that could finish a player's career. It should have been a straight red and everyone could see it.

"For Everton to go up the other end and score a penalty rubbed salt into the wounds."

The tackle from Gravesen was no surprise considering his reputation, but the man most at fault for the defeat was referee Neale Barry who had a clear view of the incident and incredibly decided that it wasn’t a foul.

Everton boss David Moyes proved once again that not only is he a great manager he is also a sporting one by urging his players to put the ball out, and would any of us be complaining if our players hadn’t kicked the ball off the pitch in similar circumstances.

No the blame lies firmly with Barry, not Everton.

The incident also overshadowed what by recent standards was a poor performance, particularly in midfield where Gary Speed was really missed against Gravesen and Lee Carsley.

Laurent Robert, Shay Given and Jonathan Woodgate were the only three of our players to emerge with much credit from the game, but hopefully the performance will spur the squad on to much greater heights on Saturday.

The Toffees probably deserved their win and the likes of Steve Watson, Joseph Yobo and Kevin Campbell proved that there is far more to them than just Wayne Rooney.

So the title looks to be gone but a place in the draw for the first group stage of the Champions League is still within our grasp, particularly if we can derail Manchester United’s title bid at St James’ Park on Saturday.