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BBC Sport's Jimmy Armfield
reports from Goodison Park
 real 14k

Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 16:59 GMT
Coventry stun Everton
Duncan Ferguson
Duncan Ferguson returned to the Everton line-up
Everton 1-2 Coventry City

Coventry City lifted the pressure on manager Gordon Strachan and left Everton deep in crisis with a crucial win at Goodison Park.

Everton looked to have rescued a point when Scot Gemmill brought Walter Smith's side level with five minutes left after Mustapha Hadji put Coventry ahead.

But Coventry staged a late rally, and Gary Breen headed an 87th minute winner to give the visitors the points after an error by Everton keeper Thomas Myhre.

It gave Coventry their third away win of a so far undistinguished season - but left Everton deep in trouble as they departed to the jeers of an angry home crowd.

We have dominated games this season and got nothing - so we are just delighted to take the win here
  Coventry City manager Gordon Strachan
Coventry boss Strachan will be relieved by the victory, and this time it was the turn of Everton boss Smith to feel the anger of his own supporters.

Everton gave Duncan Ferguson his first start since he made his 3.75m return to the club in the summer.

And in a first half of dubious quality, Everton's only real moments of danger involved launching the high ball towards the giant Scot.

He rose to meet Danny Cadamarteri's cross after 16 minutes, forcing Coventry keeper Chris Kirkland to save at the second attempt.

Cadamarteri was in the action again three minutes later, picking up a booking from referee Neale Barry for a late challenge that left Kirkland requiring lengthy treatment.

The freezing Goodison Park crowd had little to warm them until the 32nd minute, and then it only came in the shape of a farcical bust up between players of both sides.

Walter Smith
Walter Smith - desperate for win
Coventry were incensed when a challenge between Ysrael Zuniga and Everton's Mark Pembridge ended with the little Peruvian clutching his head.

Everton captain David Weir and Coventry's Paul Williams became needlessly involved, and were both fortunate to escape without a caution.

Coventry grew in confidence as half time approached, and twice Craig Bellamy squandered opportunities to give the Sky Blues the lead.

He shot well over when unmarked inside the penalty area after 41 minutes, and then finished weakly from a tight angle with only Everton keeper Thomas Myhre to beat.

Everton gave Coventry their biggest scare so far four minutes after half time, when Weir met Idan Tal's corner with a firm header, which glanced off the crossbar.

Gordon Strachan
Strachan is under pressure
The home crowd were becoming increasingly frustrated at Everton's disjointed efforts - and Coventry City were no better as the match threatened to degenerate into mind-numbing mediocrity.

Everton had the ball in the net on the hour, but the celebrations were cut short as Ferguson's strike was ruled out for offside.

And as the game sparked briefly into life, Coventry's former Liverpool midfield man David Thompson wasted a great opportunity to score, failing to make a connection inside the penalty area after a run by Zuniga.

Everton boss Smith attempted to give his side fresh impetus with a double substitution after 67 minutes, replacing Cadamarteri and Tal with Joe-Max Moore and David Unsworth.

It did not have the desired effect, with Coventry taking the lead two minutes later.

It's one thing to lose when you are outplayed but to go down to goals which are your own fault from set pieces, that's not something I like to have to suffer
  Everton manager Walter Smith
Thompson's free kick found Hadji unmarked eight yards out, and he headed firmly past Myhre.

Ferguson was still Everton's best hope, and he was denied by a brilliant one-handed save by Kirkland with 14 minutes left.

The Scot was taking on Coventry almost single-handed, but he was booked with ten minutes remaining after a bust-up with Gary Breen.

Ferguson finally got the reward his hard work deserved when he created Gemmill's equaliser with just five minutes left.

He touched the ball wide to his fellow Scot, who hammered a right foot finish past Kirkland.

The cheers of Goodison Park had barely died down when Coventry were back in front after 87 minutes.

It was a Thompson free-kick that again did the damage, with Everton goalkeeper Myhre coming off his line but failing to make a firm contact, allowing Breen to steal in and score with a header.

Coventry were over-joyed, but it was despair for Everton as they slumped to another damaging defeat.

And the chorus of boos at the final whistle told Everton boss Smith all he needed to know about his team's current plight.

Everton: Myhre, Steve Watson, Weir, Ball, Naysmith, Gravesen, Gemmill, Pembridge, Tal, Ferguson, Cadamarteri. Subs: Unsworth, Nyarko, Simonsen, Moore, Cleland.

Coventry: Kirkland, Breen, Williams, Konjic, Quinn, Thompson, Telfer, Carsley, Bellamy, Hadji, Zuniga. Subs: Edworthy, Chippo, Eustace, Aloisi, Hydlgaard.

Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe)

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26 Dec 00 |  Everton
Everton face FA probe
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