Solid if uninspiring win sends Baggies packing

By Michael Kenrick 11/03/2017  231 Comments  [Jump to last]
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Dominic Calvert-Lewin is fit again and named among the substitutes
Everton 3 - 0 West Bromwich Albion

For the visit of West Brom, Phil Jagielka returns to captain Everton, with Kevin Mirallas starting up front while Funes Mori and Gana Gueye are dropped to the bench where Calvert-Lewin returns from injury.

Gareth Barry retains his starting place, meanwhile, for West Brom, Morrison and Brunt are rested by Tony Pulis, with Robson-Kanu coming in to be their front runner. Rondon is on the bench.

Mirallas gave away an early free-kick but he was quick to pick up Lukaku's pass and dance down the left wing but his cross was poor. A good run by Lukaku won a corner and that saw some probing plays, Coleman circling around to the left and powering in a great low cross that fooled everyone.

With ground balls stymied, a ball up to Lukaku was nodded down for Barkley to stab at from distance, well wide. But Everton's build-up was painfully slow and easily stifled. Lukaku eventually got a sight of goal but his shot across Foster bobbled past the far post.

West Brom put in their own attack, a header from Fletcher collected easily by Robles, but the pace of the game was pedestrian at best and the guile needed against the packed defence was somewhat lacking, any space in the West Brom box being immediately closed down.

Everton defending did not look too confident with some scrappy play stopping a shot from Robson-Kanu. At the other end, long sequences of passing were not getting very far, Lukaku eventually letting Davies get in behind and from the corner, Baines crossed well to the far post where a towering Romelu Lukaku failed badly to make proper contact with his head: second chance gone begging.

Another corner, played short, ended in a lame shot from Barkley. Some more energetic tight passing looked to break through but a black shirt inevitably snuffed out the promising play, allowing The Baggies to advance and cross, winning a corner off a Robles flap.

McClean was next to swing in a great cross that needed the defensive header from Williams with Robson-Kanu right behind him. Barkley tried a better shot but could not get it to drop. Chadli was given space and time to line up a shot that Robles had to turn behind the post.

Davies in space released Barkley but Lukaku was surrounded by four defenders, however, he pulled away and crossed, the ball coming to Barkley who shot again and there was Mirallas to fire in the rebound off Foster.

Off a free-kick it looked like Coleman was fouled but he lost his footing. But a driving determined move by Lukaku saw him clip the ball forward to Schneiderlin running in and he clipped the balls cleverly past Foster for a fine second goal.

It was a great finish to what had at times been an arduous, slow and difficult first half for the Blues, but the 2-0 scoreline gave them great confidence for the second half.

The half began with Ramirez Funes Mori replacing Leighton Baines, who had picked up an injury. Lukaku drove forward off a ball from Tom Davies and fired in a cross-cum-shot that went over everyone. But Everton were looking a little more inventive than they had for much of the first half.

But they were giving up space in defence, allowing Chadli a sight of Robles, then giving the Baggies a corner, Referee Scott this time denying Everton a quick counter by failing to play the advantage.

More lengthy intricate passing moves, some circling all the way back to Robles, tried to draw an opening in the solid Baggies defence but it would often end with a mistake; patience was needed in spades.

Mirallas drove in well down the left channel and fed Barkley who tried to create space for the shot, but could only fire into the side netting. After that, the game became very flat for an extended period.

Idrissa Gana Gueye was brought on to replace Kevin Mirallas for the last 20 minutes, something of a negative move from the manager who had both Lookman and Calvert-Lewin in need of more top-level exposure, with a solid two-goal lead.

Yacob pulled down Lukaku in the Dee, earning a yellow card and giving the big man another chance but he drove the free-kick into the wall. More substitutions broke up any tempo there was as the game became if anything even more pedestrian than it had been in the first half.

Davies was required to defend and tackled the attacker, giving up a corner that went all the way through for a throw-in. Barkley tried to clip the ball over for a lurking Lukaku before Barry earned his obligatory yellow card for upending Rondon.

Out of very little, a lovely chipped cross from Barkley placed right on Lukaku's head and this one he could not miss, to make it 3-0. Finally time to bring on Dominic Calvert-Lewin in place of Gareth Barry.

A couple of tricky Baggies corners needed defending before Lukaku drove forward and Barkely got some space to shoot, the ball hitting a defender's arm. Calvert-Lewin was cynically blocked by Dawson on the break: yellow card.

Idrissa Gueye saw a nice opening near the end, firing onto the post with Foster stranded, to wrap up a solid if uninspiring win that puts Everton within 2 points of Man Utd in 6th place... but having played two more games.

Everton: Robles, Coleman, Ashley Williams, Jagielka, Baines (46' Funes Mori), Davies, Schneiderlin, Barry [Y:81'] (84' Calvert-Lewin), Barkley, Lukaku, Mirallas (71' Gana).
Subs not Used: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Valencia, Lookman.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Dawson [Y:88'], McAuley, Evans, Nyom, Livermore, Chadli, Fletcher, Yacob [Y:73'] (79' Morrison), McClean (75' Brunt), Robson-Kanu (75' Rondon).
Subs not Used: Olsson, M Wilson, Myhill, Field.

Referee: Graham Scott

Attendance: 39,592


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