West Ham 2, Everton 3
This was a game that the Hapless Hammers will have been counting on for a maximum return to bolster their survival bid – but what can you do when the opposition hit you with two “worldy” set-pieces?
The ‘Ammers had done well, considering their season-long impotence in front of goal, to lead twice – albeit from a fortuitous deflection and a penalty. But the two answering salvoes from the Toffeemen were in a different class altogether, expert strikes from lethal Leighton Baines to emphasise Everton’s steadily increasing superiority.
Following Mark Noble’s conversion of a penalty to give the home side a 2-1 lead, he went from hero to zero, copping for a red card in the lead-up to Baines’ second quality free-kick equaliser. Earlier, West Ham’s Morrison had been rather fortunate to see his weakly-struck shot trickle into Everton’s net via a massive deflection off the unlucky Jagielka to send the ‘Ammers in at the break with the narrowest of leads. Baines’ found Jaaskelainen’s top corner from outside the area with his first virtuoso free-kick of the afternoon, his second later on clipping the inside of a post on its way in.
At 2-2 but with a man advantage, Everton were always too much for the home side, their bolt well and truly shot, to handle. Chelsea loanee Lukaku started and finished the decisive thrust, heading home powerfully from a cross by fellow Belgian Mirallas to finish the contest. In truth, the score line flattered West Ham somewhat, as the tide late on in particular was very much against them.
Allardyce will be only too well aware that he needs to pick up points in these games, especially at Upton Park, as the bulk of the Premier League simply have too much for his shot-shy plodders. The style of football he preaches does not appeal to the Boleyn congregation and a strong possibility of a fruitless relegation struggle is not calculated to gladden their hearts. Worrying times ahead for Fat Sam, but Everton under Martinez are showing that they may well be a force to reckon with in the top flight this season.