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Tootle's 'slug' goal celebration

The Toe Poke

Howard demands strong finish

Tim Howard has called for Everton to finish the season on a high after seeing their European hopes all but disappear.

• Everton aggrieved in stalemate
• Blog: Thoughts on next season

Sunday's 0-0 draw at neighbours Liverpool, coupled with Chelsea's 1-0 win at new champions Manchester United, means it is mathematically impossible for David Moyes' side to make it into next season's Champions League.

It has also made Europa League qualification highly unlikely, as Everton have only two games left to make up a five-point gap on fifth-placed Tottenham.

Everton, who lie sixth, host West Ham next Sunday before completing their Premier League fixtures at Chelsea on May 19, and goalkeeper Howard wants a strong end to the campaign.

The United States international, 34, told the Liverpool Echo: "As far as Europe is concerned, if we can still do it, we need to pick up the last two wins and get them in the bag.

"We're relying on Spurs slipping up and we've always had to rely on that in terms of this race really.

"We needed to help ourselves as well but that's kind of what can happen when you're in the chasing pack."

Howard felt that Everton were unlucky not to secure a first victory at Anfield since September 1999, pointing to Sylvain Distin's disallowed goal in the 56th minute of Sunday's derby.

Centre-back Distin thought he had given his side the lead when he headed in a Leighton Baines corner, but referee Michael Oliver ruled that Victor Anichebe had fouled Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina.

Howard said: "I didn't see it until afterwards when we watched the replay and it was 100% never a foul. "It's hard when the big calls go against you. It's one thing if we don't score the goal – say if he'd headed it wide and then the whistle goes for the foul.

"But you need that bit of luck for decisions not to go against you in big games. I thought the referee was actually okay and apart from that got most things right. Unfortunately that happens.

"Where you finish in the table isn't about one decision though. We didn't create enough really clear cut chances to win the game and I think it was a fair result."


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