Gary Cahill was replaced by Branislav Ivanovic with Jose Bosingwa coming in at right-back. Frank Lampard made his return to central midfield as Florent Malouda dropped to the bench.
Given that Everton had beaten Manchester City in their last home game it was unsurprising they started full of confidence. We looked shaky defensively and paid the biggest price just five minutes in as Everton took the lead.
A coming together between Tim Cahill and Lampard saw the ball loop over our defence and into the path of Pienaar who controlled the ball on his chest and smashed it beyond Petr Cech.
It was no more than Everton deserved and they almost added to it just moments later as a Neville cross was met by the head of Stracqualursi, who nodded just wide of the post.
In the meantime we seemed rattled and unable to get into our stride.
It took 25 minutes for us to show any sort of fight. A chance for a Fernando Torres head at goal was brilliantly denied by Sylvain Distin before Daniel Sturridge saw his shot blocked at the edge of the box.
Frank Lampard had a shot wide from a similar distance and then Tim Howard’s flap at a cross from the right almost allowed Lampard in again.
A Torres header from close range was easily collected by Howard as the first half finished with Everton leading.
The pace did not appear to have slowed in the second half with both sides attacking.
A Pienaar-led break for Everton gave them a free-kick but a poor delivery from Baines couldn’t beat our wall however Stracqualursi’s twist and turn in the box moments later ended in a scrambled blocked shot from the Chelsea defense.
The Toffees landed the knockout blow with 15 minutes remaining on the clock. A run in off the right from Donovan found us backpedalling as his his weighted pass allowed Stracqualursi to smash beyond Cech, despite him getting a palm to the ball.
The game was up with that goal as we then provided very little trouble for Everton who kept the ball patiently in order to see out a deserved win.
In the meantime we drop to fifth place in the Premier League table behind Arsenal with an FA cup match against Birmingham next up at Stamford Bridge.
Gill Reeves – CSG disabled rep.
04 Gibson (Hibbert – 89′ )
22 Pienaar (Drenthe – 74′ )
11 Stracqualursi (Duffy – 90′ )
03 Cole (Bertrand – 77′ )
04 David Luiz
17 Bosingwa – Booked
05 Essien (Malouda – 69′ )
16 Meireles – Booked
09 Torres – Booked
10 Mata (Lukaku – 77′ )