Superb Everton grab three vital points

By Michael Kenrick 20/08/2016  192 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Yannick Bolasie came off the bench and set up three brilliant chances for Barkley and Lukaku.
West Bromwich Albion 1 - 2 Everton

Everton had to dig deep in this one, with Ronald Koeman making a series of key substitutions as the game progressed after an early goal was given up from a corner. But a superb response from the entire team saw Mirallas equalize crucially on the break, and Barry headed in a nice opportunity at the far post to give them a lead to defend.

Romelu Lukaku was not sufficiently ready to face his old loan hosts West Brom at The Hawthorns in Everton's first away game of the new campaign; however, he started on the bench, with new signings Bolasie and Williams, and would come on as a first-half sub.

The side Ronald Koeman started with was the same lineup that faced Spurs, with an attack consisting of Mirallas, Barkley and Deulofeu, with Coleman still out injured.

Everton kicked of with the clear intent of controlling proceedings and getting the ball forward, with Deulofeu playing in Barkley who appeared to be tripped but Yacob got the ball. Barkely was then hit on the thigh but recovered quickly.

Barry took more command, winning the ball strongly, and play developed through Deulofeu on the wing but Barry's shot off the low return cross was too weak and straight at Foster.

Rondon got the better of Funes Mori but Stekelenburg was out very quickly to save brilliantly. Ft from the corner, a far post header and a goal with Stekelenburg clearly impeded, McAuley powering through Mirallas's vain attempt to clear the ball off the line.

Everton were stunned but tried to press a solid wall of West Brom defenders and could do little to penetrate, while the Baggies came forward and won another corner that was defended better. The next Blues attack broke down on a loose pass from Mirallas as Everton had their work cut out to keep it tight and hold possession, while trying to break through an impenetrable defence.

Everton possession was at times painfully deliberate, and far too slow in developing, with The Baggies easily able to stem their progress, forcing Barry to play long balls hopefully over the top for Deulofeu, but McAuley was far too strong for him. Barry came in strongly on him in response.

A freekick from Barkley didn't quite work like last week, that man McAuley heading it away. Berahino was carded for a nasty late challenge on Barry. The ineffective attacks continued until West Brom won another corner but this time took it short and it was defended away.

With little more than half-an-hour played and Everton showing nothing meaningful in attack, Koeman took action: Lukaku was stripped and readied for action, with James McCarthy the one to be pulled. Everton won a corner before he came on, but could not trouble Foster.

A good strong run from Holgate was too easily blocked, but he got forward again and this time Yacob was called for the foul, in a dangerous area, with Baines, Barkley and Mirallas sizing it up, but Baines fired it rather poorly well over the bar, with Lukaku yet to have a touch.

It took until the 44th minute, however, before Everton constructed anything approaching a penetrative attack, Deulofeu doing well from the right this time to hook a ball back from the byeline, but to nobody. Everton kept pressing up to the whistle, and an excellent sequnce of slick first-time passing through the middle involving Mirallas, Barry and Barkley saw Mirallas power in and fire beyond Foster, an excellent goal to put the Blues back in it. Fair reward for an astounding 69% possession statistic in the first half.

Stekelenburg pulled off another fantastic save shortly after the break, when lax passing inside the Everton box set up Fletcher for what seemed a certain goal. At the other end, Holgate powered in on goal off an exchange with Lukaku and won a corner that Deulofeu beyond the far post almost converted, possibly hitting the post. The second corner for Mirallas was superbly delivered but no big heads were where they were needed to be to convert it.

But West Brom got forward again and Fletcher took a shot with Jagielka trying to block it and catching him fractionally late. The free-kick was in a dangerous position, Gardner curling it a couple of feet wide with Stekelenburg stranded.

Everton's controlled possession looked to be creating more penetration until Deulofeu overran his dribble and lost the ball, leading shortly to his replacement by Bolasie after Olson was booked for taking out Mirallas. His free kick was superb to Funes Mori who fashioned a tremendous header that Foster parried away with a tremendous stretching save. From the corner, Holgate volleyed in but somehow the ball bounced up nicely for Barry to head in smartly at the far post, making it a superb turnaround by they yellow-shirted Blues.

Brilliantly, Everton continued to attack with raucous backing from the noisy Blues contingent in the crowd, with Pulis forced to making a double switch. But the visitors continued to take the game to their hosts, with Bolasie now playing an important part in building the attacks down the Everton right.

Bolasie beat Evans with ease and delivered a fantastic ball for Barkley to head in for 3-1... only it went 6 inches the wrong side of the post! — a terrible miss really on a free header. And West Brom were quickly up the other end and another wicked corner causing havoc in the Everton defence, McAuley coming close again.

Bolaise tried to drive through but was thwarted, Lukaku picking up behind him and giving Bolasie the chance to fire, but high and wide. Ricky Lambert came on to a suitable welcome from the Blues fans as he almost scored with his first touch, denied by a fantastic block from Funes Mori, as the unrelenting pace of the game continued with little sign of Everton tiring as they had done last week. Ashley Williams replaced Mirallas for the last 10 minutes as Koeman looked to batten down the hatches and see out the match.

Everton continued to control proceedings with increasing confidence but at no stage could it have been called 'easy', with West Brom providing feisty and physical opposition at every turn. Some fantastic defending by Holgate at the expense of a corner saw a couple more threatening chances determinedly repelled by the Everton defence.

Bolasie again showed excellent end-product, picking out Lukaku, but he was blocked, then Barkley releasing him, and again he picked out Lukaku but the Big Man could not beat Foster and another fearsome attack was waged in response by the The Baggies, with more tremendous Everton defending and another corner repelled as 4 minutes of added time were shown.

Holgate got called for a soft handball as the ball bobbled up, the free-kick fired in by McClean, but straight at the two-man wall, the ball falling to Foster wo add advanced to the Everton area, firing inches wide, as the last gasp, signalling an excellent win for the much fitter, much brighter, much more determined Everton side. The reception at the final whistle from the masse throng of Everton fans was simply marvellous as they showed their appreciation for a superb display and three vital points to push Everton up to 5th in the nascent Premier League table.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson, Olsson [Y:59'], McAuley, Evans [Y:90+3'], Fletcher (c), Yacob, Phillips (Leko, 64), Gardner (McClean, 64), Berahino [Y:26'] (Lambert, 78) Rondon.
Subs not used: Myhill, Morrison, Field, Wilson.

Everton: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka, Funes Mori, McCarthy (37' Lukaku), Barry, Gueye, Baines, Mirallas, Barkley, Deulofeu (61' Bolasie).
Subs: Robles, Williams, Oviedo, Cleverley, Lennon.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 23,654


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