The hosts dominated from start to finish against a lacklustre Baggies and secured a place above their Merseyside rivals for the first time this season
Everton moved above Merseyside rivals Liverpool with a 2-0 win over a lacklustre West Brom at Goodison Park.
A Gareth McAuley own goal, following a Leon Osman shot, gave the hosts the lead before substitute Victor Anichebe doubled it with a fine second-half finish.
Toffees boss David Moyes made three changes to the side which emerged triumphant in last week’s FA Cup quarter-final clash with Sunderland. Phil Jagielka and Tony Hibbert returned in defence at the expense of Sylvain Distin and Phil Neville, whilst Magaye Gueye dropped to the bench as the previously cup-tied Sylvain Pienaar took his place on the wing.
Roy Hodgson made a total of four changes to his side, after a lacklustre performance in defeat to Newcastle at the Hawthorns. Youssouf Mulumbu, Marc Antoine-Fortune, James Morrison and Jerome Thomas dropped out – with the latter pair failing even to make the bench – as Chris Brunt, Paul Scharner, Shane Long and Somen Tchoyi came into the starting line-up.
Goodison Park was in fine voice as the match began after Everton’s cup heroics in midweek and the hosts showed early on that they have no intention of taking their eye off the ball in the league. Leighton Baines swung in a ball which Osman nodded inches wide with just seconds gone before Darron Gibson’s drive from the edge of the box had Ben Foster worried.
The early exchanges continued in much the same vein as Everton passed the ball well but failed to create further clear cut chances before the breakthrough came in somewhat fortunate circumstances.
A brilliant turn by Osman at the edge of the box saw the Englishman shake Liam Ridgewell’s attentions before he fired a left-footed shot which cannoned in off McCauley, giving Ben Foster no chance. Replays showed that the ball was going well wide but the Toffees fans will have cared little about the manner in which they grabbed a deserved lead.
Given the hosts’ dominance, West Brom had little right to be in the game, but they almost equalised just moments after falling behind.
Paul Scharner found space in behind and had Tim Howard sprawling to his right with a shot across goal, the follow-up looked destined for the net but, as Chris Brunt closed in, his effort was accidentally blocked by team-mate Shane Long.
That chance was the last West Brom would forge in the half as they were frustrated by Everton’s ability to soak up pressure and attempt to hit on the counter. One such attack saw Steven Pienaar find space in front of the back four and force a smart save from Foster with the Baggies defence back peddling.
The hosts had undoubtedly been the better side in the first-half but were dealt a blow at the break as Osman was forced to withdraw with an injury and was replaced by Gueye.
The Englishman had been part of so much that the Toffees had done well in the first half and his absence told as they failed to create any chances of note.
With the scoreline far from reassuring, Moyes looked to the bench. Anichebe replaced Cahill, who had struggled somewhat, as the Blues looked to kill off the came with half an hour remaining. The big forward was instantly involved in a clever exchange with Pienaar but, after the South African was dragged down at the edge of the box, Jelavic’s free-kick was weak and wide.
Then Moyes’ decision was further justified as his side doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining. Pienaar received the ball on the left-hand side before driving at a nervy West Brom defence, the midfielder waited for the inevitable parting of the back four before sliding to Anichebe, who finished brilliantly across goal and in off the post.
Content that West Brom provided little counterattacking threat, Everton continued to hold off their opponents and break from then on. Jelavic’s weak effort after good build up in the box could have added further shine to the scoreline but the Merseyside outfit barely required a further lead such was their comfort.
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