West Ham’s five-match unbeaten run was brought to an end by Everton on Saturday, with the Toffees taking all three points thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s first goal since the end of November.
As expected, Roberto Martínez’s side took the game to West Ham in the first half, playing their brand of attacking football…and being thwarted by Sam Allardyce’s belief that the best offense is a good defense.
To Big Sam’s credit, he did appear to make a tactical shift before 30 minutes were up, replacing Carlton Cole with Andy Carroll. But Carroll had little impact, what with Everton maintaining 75% possession in the first half. Their best, or at least prettiest, chance came in the 39th minute. Gerard Deulofeu, proving himself to be an awfully tricky player, snaked through the West Ham defenders to grab a little bit of space, but put his effort wide from 30 yards out.
Little changed in the second half. In the 55th minute, Tim Howard managed to save a shot from Andy Carroll. Kevin Nolan had an attempt after the resulting corner, but that was about it in terms of West Ham’s attack.
It took almost the entire match, but eventually Everton were able to break down the dogged West Ham defense. And who else but Romelu Lukaku was the man to do it? Martínez introduced the striker at the hour mark, but with the Irons still intent on closing down the Toffees’ attack, it took some time to make an impact. The goal came in the 81st minute. Leighton Baines sent his pass through a mass of claret-and-blue kits inside the area, with Lukaku there to pick it up, smashing the ball through to the center of the goal.
Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Coleman, Stones, Deulofeu (McGeady 73), Naismith (Barkley 85), McCarthy, Barry, Osman (Lukaku 59), Piennar
Goals: Lukaku 81′
West Ham United: Adrian, Demel (Reid 80), Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Noble, Nolan, Taylor, Jarvis (Diamé 66), C.Cole (Carroll 29), Downing