The hosts dominated from start to finish against a lackluster Baggies and secured a place above their Merseyside rivals for the first time this seasonEverton moved above Merseyside rival Liverpool with a 2-0 win over a lackluster 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.
Goodison Park was in fine voice as the match began after Everton’s cup heroics last week 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 it almost equalized 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 teammate Shane Long.
That chance was the last West Brom would forge in the half as it was 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 defense on its heels.
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 the lead with 20 minutes remaining. Pienaar received the ball on the left-hand side before driving at a nervy West Brom defense. 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 its opponent 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 its comfort.
And it was the Toffees who continued to press despite their lead as the match reached its conclusion, though they could not find the third goal which their performance perhaps merited.