Lukaku makes the breakthrough to seal double over West Ham

, 1 March, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
Everton 1 - 0 West Ham United
Romelu Lukaku stepped off the substitutes' bench to score the decisive goal against West Ham for the second time this season, earning Everton a hard-fought but deserved victory at Goodison Park.

With the Belgian striker just back from injury and suffering from a mild chest infection, Roberto Martinez selected the Steven Naismith to lead the line, preferred Gerard Deulofeu to Kevin Mirallas on the right and kept Ross Barkley on the bench as he continues his gradual return to fitness.

The Blues began with intensity and purpose and Naismith glanced a header wide from Leon Osman's flick-on and then forced a save from Adrian at the near post with a powerful effort from the angle.

The Hammers barely got a look-in in the first 20 minutes but, as has so often been the case this season, Everton were battling to turn their dominance into clear-cut chances. A half chance opened up for Deulofeu with 24 minutes gone but he fired wide and just before the break the Spaniard jinked his way past three defenders before whipping a shot narrowly wide.

Everton came out of the interval in enterprising mood and the second period was barely a minute old when Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar combined superbly down the left and the England international's cut-back found the South African perfectly but he rolled his shot agonisingly off the face of the post.

Pienaar was presented with an almost identical chance by Gareth Barry five minutes later but this time he skied over.

That was followed by West Ham's only sustained period of pressure in the game but Martinez checked any momentum they might have been building by introducing Lukaku in place of Osman with an hour gone. The striker added a more powerful and pacey dimension in the final third as Everton fed off the home crowd's urgency to build some pressure as the game progressed.

Further genuine goalscoring chances remained at a premium, though, and when Sylvain Distin spurned one from a free kick with an awkward connection that bounced wide it looked as though the familiar failing of the final ball was going to let the Blues down again.

Everything came together superbly, though, with 10 minutes left when they once again built down the left flank, Baines's square pass found Lukaku lurking in space by the penalty spot and he stroked the ball home with a confident finish.

Barkley made a late cameo and crashed a shot narrowly wide as Everton finished the stronger and comfortably closed out the game to notch their first League win since a month ago, and three points that move them back into 6th place in the table.

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