Everton power on at Fortress Goodison

Saturday 11 March 2017  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

Romelu Lukaku became the first player since Bob Latchford to score 20-plus goals in three successive seasons for Everton

Everton notched their fifth successive home win in the League and Romelu Lukaku reached 20 goals for the season as unadventurous West Brom were beaten soundly at Goodison Park.

Goals from Kevin Mirallas and Morgan Schneiderlin gave the Blues a deserved 2-0 lead at half time and while the second period drifted for long periods, Lukaku eventually put the icing on the cake with eight minutes left.

The Belgian moved back level with Harry Kane as the Premier League's top scorer and became the first Everton striker since Bob Latchford to score 20-plus goals in all competitions in three straight seasons.

Ronald Koeman had reacted to the defeat at Tottenham last Sunday with two changes to the starting XI, some of them surprises. Ramiro Funes Mori dropped back to the bench to accommodate the return of Phil Jagielka, Gareth Barry retained his place in central midfield, while Idrissa Gueye was also named among the substitutes as Mirallas came back into the side.

After the early sparring between two teams vying to at least finish as the "best of the rest" outside the top six, Everton came close to opening the scoring. Lukaku was played in and he whipped a right-foot shot just wide of the far post.

Ross Barkley, one of the standout performers of the afternoon, then had a disappointing shot that sailed over the crossbar before strong work by Lukaku helped usher in the opening goal. The ball eventually fell to Barkley whose drive was spilled by Ben Foster and Mirallas was on hand to ram home the rebound emphatically.

Barkley curled another effort narrowly but with the first half ticking down, Lukaku was again involved with good footwork and determined running before he slipped a ball into the path of Schneiderlin inside the box. The Frenchman took a touch past Jake Livermore and then prodded past the advancing Foster and inside the far post.

Koeman withdrew Leighton Baines at half time in favour of Funes Mori to start the second period but chances were sporadic, with Barkley going close with some neat footwork and shot from the angle that flashed into the side netting.

Looking the most likely opposition player to cause the Blues any problems, Nacir Chadli finally tested Joel Robles with a shot that the Spaniard beat away but without key players like Salomon Rondon and James Morrisson until late on, Tony Pulis's men were surprisingly toothless, even from set-pieces.

Lukaku drove a free kick into the wall later in the half but the crowd's pleas for another goal were answered when Barkley popped up on the left side of the area, wrong-footed his marker and clipped an inch-perfect cross for Lukaku to place with a header into the corner to make it 3-0.

Gueye fired a shot off the base of the post in stoppage time with the last shot of the match before referee Graham Scott called time on another definitive home win for Everton.

It pulls the Blues within two points of Manchester United and three of Arsenal, although both clubs have played two games fewer, while extending the gap between themselves and West Brom below to seven points.

Full details: ToffeeWeb match page