Romelu Lukaku continues his hoodoo over West Ham
Barkley also on the scoresheet as Everton have too much for resurgent Hammers
Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring for Everton against West Ham. Photograph: Afp
Everton 2 West Ham United 0
Romelu Lukaku scored his inevitable goal against West Ham United and Ross Barkley sealed victory with a finish that should enhance his confidence as Everton recorded their first victory in six games. There would be no implosion against Slaven Bilic’s side this time.
Seven minutes remained when Goodison Park witnessed the contrast between Ronald Koeman and Roberto Martínez. The home side led 2-0, just as they did in the corresponding game last season, when Koeman withdrew the lively Yannick Bolasie from Everton’s attack and added the experienced nous of Phil Jagielka to his defence. Last season Martínez replaced a winger, Aaron Lennon, with a striker, Oumar Niasse, with 14 minutes to play and West Ham scored three times to signal a turning point in the then Everton manager’s relationship with the Goodison crowd.
There would be no repeat from Koeman as Everton, marking the one-year anniversary of Howard Kendall’s death, rediscovered a way to win and their cutting edge to halt West Ham’s recent revival. The visitors had started with the confidence of three consecutive victories and Winston Reid shackling Lukaku impressively, but both faded as Everton took control after the interval.
Dimitri Payet was central to an encouraging start from West Ham. Michail Antonio put an early chance over the bar from an inviting cross by the France international, Séamus Coleman applying enough pressure to distract the West Ham forward, and Pedro Obiang should have opened the scoring when Payet pierced the Everton defence. An incisive pass left Obiang with a clear sight of goal but he skied horribly over the bar as Ashley Williams, Bryan Oviedo and Joel Robles closed in.
Payet was denied twice in the first half by the Everton goalkeeper, who was deputising for the injured Maarten Stekelenburg. Manuel Lanzini also created a clear opening for himself when he easily evaded Ramiro Funes Mori inside the area only to shoot wide of the far post. The chances may have reflected the improved attacking options that have helped Slaven Bilic’s team turn their campaign but the failure to take them proved costly.
Everton’s performance and intent grew gradually. Gareth Barry captained the side, with Phil Jagielka dropped to the bench following last week’s defeat at Burnley, and curled his team’s first effort just over Adrián’s top corner. The West Ham keeper then produced an outstanding reflex save to thwart Barkley when the Everton midfielder looked certain to break the deadlock. Collecting a fine ball from Oviedo on the left, Barkley stepped inside Reid and took aim from 12 yards. The shot took a slight deflection en route but Adrián somehow read the flight perfectly and to tip over. Barkley, head in hands, looked on in disbelief. He would have the moment his game has needed, however.
The hosts played with far greater energy and control in the second half. They were also helped towards a much-needed victory by West Ham’s defending. Strong and disciplined before the break, the visitors lacked concentration afterwards and were punished by an Everton side that prospered on the counterattack and had the insurance of Lukaku’s inevitable goal against the Hammers.
Lukaku struck for the ninth time in 11 games against West Ham due to a series of defensive errors and quick-thinking by Bolasie. Reid put his team under pressure with a weak clearance that enabled Barkley to set up Coleman for a low drive that Adrián parried to his left. Both Reid and Aaron Cresswell left the loose ball to each other and Bolasie seized on the indecision to slide in and clip the ball back across goal. Lukaku, stood onside and in front of an open goal, duly nodded home.
West Ham were re-energised by the introduction of André Ayew and almost level when Ashley Williams slipped under pressure from Antonio, who raced into the area but was denied by the legs of Robles. His two team-mates better placed inside were less than impressed. The recalled keeper enjoyed a commanding afternoon and also saved well from Mark Noble when the visiting captain took aim from 25 yards. It was an important intervention as, with West Ham continuing to press for the equaliser, Everton capitalised on the space left open for the counterattack.
Barkley started and finished a flowing move when he spun away from two challenges in the centre circle and sprayed the ball down the right channel for Lukaku. The Belgium striker cut to the byline, surveyed his options and floated a perfect cross to the back post where Barkley had arrived unmarked. The England international converted a half-volley inside Adrián’s near post. Lukaku and substitute Tom Cleverley came close to adding a third for the home side but Adrián saved well from both.