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FA Cup win can save our season, says Phil Neville

Phil Neville
Phil Neville's winning penalty ended Chelsea's hopes of a third successive FA Cup

Phil Neville believes Everton's FA Cup win over Chelsea can give them the boost they need to rescue their season.

Neville struck the winner in a penalty shoot-out after Saturday's fourth-round replay ended 1-1 after extra-time.

"This could be the springboard for us," said Neville, whose side are fighting for their Premier League survival.

"We've set the standard today and we must not drop below that. There is still plenty to play for in the league if we pull our socks up."

Everton are 13th in the table and only three points above the relegation zone.

And it looked as if their season was getting worse as they appeared to be heading out of the FA Cup when Frank Lampard put Chelsea ahead in the first half of extra time and the Toffees still trailed with only two minutes remaining.

But Leighton Baines curled a free-kick into the top corner with 75 seconds remaining, and although the left-back failed to convert Everton's first penalty in the ensuing shoot-out, misses from Nicolas Anelka and Ashley Cole allowed Neville to step up and fire home the decisive kick.

"I knew I was going to score, I knew where the ball was going to go - and that's half the battle," said Neville.

"We've been practising [penalties] all week. The manager just told us to hit them as hard as possible.

"My biggest worry is that there was a big divot in the penalty spot. [Chelsea keeper] Petr Cech looks really big, but luckily he dived the wrong way.

Chelsea were attempting to become the first club to win the competition three times in succession since Blackburn completed the feat in 1886.

But Everton, who were held 1-1 by Carlo Ancelotti's side in the original tie at Goodison Park last month, had not lost to the Blues since the 2009 FA Cup final, and Neville felt the win was merited overall.

He added: "Out of the two ties with Chelsea, I think we just deserved to go through."

Those sentiments were echoed by Neville's manager, David Moyes, who was particularly pleased with the manner in which his team bounced back from last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Bolton, a performance he described as one of the worst of his nine-year Goodison Park tenure.

"You just have to prod people sometimes, and they needed a good prodding," said Moyes.

"But they didn't half respond, and if anybody doubted them last week, they should eat their words because they were top-notch this week.

"This is Chelsea's first defeat in the Cup in nearly three years, so today I have to praise the players - they were immense throughout.

"I said last week that if we had beaten Bolton, I think we would've gone eighth in the Premier League.

"The manager and the players had a chance to change the perception of the club and we didn't do it.

"Not only that, we didn't play well.

"I hope today we're able to send 6,000 home with a much better feeling about our team and our club."

The mood in the Chelsea camp was understandably more sombre but, while Ancelotti rued missed chances, he was also determined to look ahead to Tuesday's first-leg last-16 Champions League clash away to FC Copenhagen.

"We deserved to win," said Ancelotti. "Obviously, we are not happy but we have to look forward, to use these days, the next days, to recover well, to recover energy and to prepare well for the next game in the Champions League.

"It will not be easy, but we have the time. Obviously, penalties are a lottery and sometimes you can win and sometimes you can lose."

Everton will play Reading in the last 16 at Goodison Park on Tuesday, 1 March.

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see also
Saturday football as it happened
19 Feb 11 |  Football
Saturday's football photos
19 Feb 11 |  Football
Chelsea 1-1 Everton (aet)
19 Feb 11 |  FA Cup


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