Is there anything that can match the elation of turning a game on its head and winning it in the last 10 minutes? Add in a first away victory for Roberto Martinez, two audacious, sublime, Sheedy-esque free kicks by Leighton Baines, a debut goal for Romelu Lukaku, and Everton sitting pretty as the only team left unbeaten in the Premier League, and you have a pretty fantastic day to be an Evertonian.
Having put a fairly pedestrian first-half performance behind them – Martinez apparently let his players know in no uncertain terms that their display in the first 45 minutes fell well below expectations – the Blues were looking a decent bet to complete a come-from-behind victory after Baines had swept a brilliant free kick past Jussi Jaaskeleinen to make it 1-1 with just over an hour played.
But then James McCarthy, a half-time replacement for Steven Naismith, tripped Kevin Nolan in the Everton box, Mark Noble buried the resulting penalty and it felt like another post-scalp let-down was on the cards after last weekend's morale-boosting win over Chelsea.
Few could have anticipated the drama that was to follow once the clock had ticked past the 80-minute mark, though, as first Baines and then Lukaku flipped the tables on the Hammers and catapulted the Blues into fifth place in the table for the time being.
It's hard to understate how transformed Everton were as an attacking force after the interval. As expected Martinez had rewarded the team that started against Chelsea and, in particular, the Nikica Jelavic-Naismith combination that had combined for the winning goal last Saturday with an unchanged starting XI but for long periods the first half was reminiscent of the goalless draws against West Brom and Cardiff. The Blues had plenty of attractive possession but were crafting very little in the final third in front of an organised defence that had clearly been told to get men behind the ball and prevent the opposition from playing through them.
Kevin Mirallas had the one genuine effort on goal in the 6th minute when he cut in from the right and whipped in an excellent shot that Jaaskeleinen did well to parry away but otherwise, for all their effort, Everton had little to show for their superiority.
Sam Allardyce's West Ham hadn't scored in their previous three games and they needed a huge slice of fortune to break that sequence midway through the half when Ravel Morrison's shot took a wicked deflection off Sylvain Distin and past the helpless Tim Howard to make it 1-0.
Importantly, Martinez responded boldly and decisively at half time, replacing Jelavic with Lukaku and Naismith with McCarthy and the Blues immediately looked a diiferent prospect. With his first meaningful contribution, the Belgian striker had played in his international teammate, Mirallas, who took the ball past the 'keeper on the edge of the area but, unfortunately, was forced too far wide and his under-hit centre gave Ross Barkley too much to do.
The new line-up had barely got into its stride, though, when Leon Osman pulled up with what looked to be a thigh injury just five minutes into the second half and he was forced off, to be replaced by Bryan Oviedo. The Costa Rican tucked into the left flank ahead of Baines and Mirallas swapped to the right where is often more effective.
The equaliser would come but only after the Hammers had survived an impressive, sustained spell of pressure from the visitors on the hour mark. Lukaku started it with a terrific ball to Barkley but, not for the first time since his barnstorming strike against Norwich on the opening day, the teenager elected not to shoot from 20 yards when the goal opened up in front of him. Everton kept the ball and the move ended with Baines pinging a cross agonisingly above Mirallas' leap and out to the far side.
Barkley was at the centre of the action a minute later, though, when James Collins scythed him down in full flight just outside the penalty area. It was ideal Baines territory – you just never know with Mirallas standing over the ball as well – and, right on cue, he swept a brilliant free kick beyond Jaaskeleinen's hands and into top left corner of the goal. 1-1 and you sensed that West Ham's resistance had been broken.
Though a Baines cross almost surprised Jaaskeleinen at his near post when it flicked off a defender and the Finn parried it behind for a corner, the Hammers weren't without their moments. Mohamed Diame headed a decent chance wide from a corner while some worryingly poor distribution at times from Jagielka was going unpunished.
Everton were firmly in control by the time ticked on to the 70-minute mark with an astonishing 70% of the possession but potential disaster struck when Jagielka tried to shepherd the ball over the byline but was robbed by Mladen Petric. He fed the ball back to Nolan who surged into the area, neatly turned inside McCarthy who couldn't avoid catching his trailing leg and referee Lee Mason had little choice but to point to the spot. Noble did the rest and Allardyce must have been anticipating a first win since the opening day of the season.
Noble went from Hammers hero to villain 10 minutes later, though, when, in an almost carbon copy of the incident that led to Everton's first goal, the midfielder chopped down Barkley as he sped into space outside the area setting up another direct free kick opportunity for Baines. Having been booked for pulling Mirallas back earlier in the half, Noble was shown a second yellow card and was ordered off for an early bath.
To be honest, you half expected Mirallas to take his opportunity at this point but with all the impudence and precision of Kevin Sheedy in his prime, Baines picked his spot with a curling effort that bounced off the right-hand post and into the net to send the army of traveling Blues into rapture to the right of the goal. Jaaskeleinen, rooted to the spot, could only watch.
Two minutes later and, incredibly, Everton were in front for the first time in the game. Mirallas did brilliantly to engineer space for a cross from the right, one that picked out Lukaku who met with his head and steered it past the keeper. Unfortunately, he made contact with O'Brien's head as well leaving both players prone on the turf and Lukaku, especially, in an unconscious heap. He would remark after the game that he'd had to be informed by the club's medic that he had scored the goal so it was somewhat surprising to see him not only return to the field to see out the remainder of the match but to also twice go close to killing the game off in injury time: once when he rampaged through and just hesitated too long allowing Winston Reid to close him down as he bore down on goal; and then when Mirallas ended a quick counter-attack in acres of space in the area but he couldn't find the striker with a square pass.
Seven minutes of injury time should have been a nail-biting nightmare as the Hammers chased the game but with Everton's ability to keep hold of the ball these days, they passed largely without incident at their end. Mirallas exhibited some delightful footwork as he danced along the touchline teasing defenders down by the corner flag and Seamus Coleman followed suit, winding the clock down to a magnificent result, one that could prove just as important as last week's over Chelsea in terms of the team's self-belief.
While it's still too early to get carried away, there was so much to admire and from which to draw real optimism, firstly, in the way that Martinez responded to a lethergic first-half display and, secondly, in how dangerous the Blues looked with Lukaku on the field. So much more than a physical presence, the Belgian showed a deftness of touch, an awareness of his teammates' position and, crucially, the ability to play them in with the right kind of pass, that make him an all-round threat in the way that, sadly, Jelavic is not. Then of course, there is his aerial prowess displayed so effectively with the winning goal.
It's fair to say that without him, Everton wouldn't have won this game and without Baines' breath-taking dead-ball ability from 25 yards they wouldn't have been in a position to. He was a pest to West Ham in the second half with his movement and passing interchanges in the final third but he struck them two devastating blows with two efforts on goal, neither of which Jaaskeleinen had a prayer of stopping.
Praise should also be reserved for the more unsung heroes of a valuable away victory, not least Gareth Barry who pulled strings in midfield and broke up a couple of dangerous moments with his own awarenes and tigerish determination to protect the back four. Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman also stood tall when required at the back as Jagielka occasionally slipped from his normally high standards. Osman was quietly effective in midfield before he went off, McCarthy was energetic and competent, but clumsy in giving away the penalty, while Oviedo provided pace down the left flank to give the home defence one more thing to worry about.
The important thing now for Martinez is to ensure that the momentum is carried through to the midweek League Cup game at Fulham and then to the Newcastle game under the Goodison lights at the end of the month. Both opponents will be reeling from poor results and, hopefully, will be ripe for the taking. Two wins from those matches to close out the month would really strengthen the belief that the Blues could really be a force this season under the new man.
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122 Posted 22/09/2013 at 02:23:22
After the stale performance of the first half the second was scintillating.
123 Posted 22/09/2013 at 02:33:51
I don't think Jela can have any complaints if he doesn't see much action for the games ahead. I like Jela, but enough is enough, Lukaku, did more in his first ten minutes than Jela has done all season. Similar can be said for Osman and Naismith, however they will remain good squad players, and their commitment cannot be questioned.
It will be interesting to see how many, if any, changes are made for the Cup game on Tuesday, and hope it is taken as seriously as any Prem. game. Like I mentioned on another thread, this is the one Cup we have never won, and is a route to Europe, but hopefully we will qualify by merit also.
I thought Gareth Barry was not as prominent as last week, but did just about enough, Mirallas played his best game to date, and is possibly our MoM, Ross continues to improve both in confidence and performance. I also thought Jags was below par today and Seamus was quieter than normal without doing anything wrong.
124 Posted 22/09/2013 at 02:55:38
Leighton Baines is just plain genius. His left foot is like Stephen Hawking’s brain.
RM got a lot of stick on the live forum for starting the “wrong” lineup. Sorry, but when you beat Chelsea, the three guys who made the goal deserve to start. That said, as far as I’m concerned Lukaku became the starting striker with his first touch. That turn was sensational and created an immediate chance. And his goal was pure Braveheart.
I love Barkley’s commitment to attacking defenders when he’s on the ball. We saw the downside in the first half when he forced himself into at least four turnovers... but in the second he brilliantly drew the fouls that set up both of Baines’ free kicks.
Jags’ blunder was the worst moment I have ever seen him have in an Everton uniform. Not only did he use bad judgement and get out-worked by Petric, but he just stayed stretched out on the grass and watched after it happened, like a lazy seal on the beach. I’ve never seen him give up on a play before, and I never want to see it again. Not that RM will do it, but if I were the manager, Jags would lose his place – and the armband – for the next game.
When Oviedo came on, our offense improved instantly. He works beautifully with Bainesy and opens up the side for him to operate in a way Mirallas does not. And Oviedo never misses a pass. I’m biased, because I’ve seen him play so much in World Cup qualifying and I think he’s an outstanding player. But I was really glad to see him get the call when Osman went down, and I think he was a major contributor. With Pienaar and now Osman injured, I’m expecting to see Oviedo start next week with Mirallas on the right.
126 Posted 22/09/2013 at 03:16:48
But that's where Martinez and Moyes differ. Martinez saw it wasn't working and made the changes as soon as. No waiting, no hanging about as Moyes usually did, just made the changes and the game turned.
Under Moyes that would have been a 1-0 defeat or a 1-1 draw. Under Martinez it turned into a 3-2 win.
127 Posted 22/09/2013 at 03:23:38
129 Posted 22/09/2013 at 03:49:28
Yeah, right. That's how we averaged 16 wins a year for the last five seasons.
You want to be happy that Moyes is gone and Martinez is here, fine. But don't talk idiocy. You have no idea how this game would have come out with Moyes in charge.
131 Posted 22/09/2013 at 04:22:43
133 Posted 22/09/2013 at 04:48:05
134 Posted 22/09/2013 at 05:05:33
Still, what a result. Team selection for Fulham now will be very interesting - I wonder if some of those on the fringes (Stones, Heitinga, Gibson, Kone, Deulofeu, Ovideo) will get a run-out on Tuesday.
137 Posted 22/09/2013 at 05:29:22
One thing I feel certain about is that Naismith would not have started against either Chelsea or West Ham... Moyes considered him a reserve. And Naismith was the matchwinner against Chelsea and pretty much the worst on the pitch today, so in both cases his participation had a considerable impact.
That's why the whole theoretical comparison idea is so silly.
138 Posted 22/09/2013 at 05:38:23
139 Posted 22/09/2013 at 05:39:25
I am really starting to get excited about our season - I know, we are just 1 loss away from coming back to earth, but I am just so happy today.
140 Posted 22/09/2013 at 06:09:33
Robles, Stones, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines, Barry, McCarthy, Deulofeu, Barkley, Mirallas, Lukaku
Subs: Howard, Hibbert, Distin, Gibson, Osman, Naismith, Kone
143 Posted 22/09/2013 at 06:33:51
144 Posted 22/09/2013 at 06:34:33
Fair play to Baines though. Consummate professional, and if he does leave, will no doubt get the recognition he deserves in April, unlike someone else at Man U!
I really hope he stays, but I think it's telling that the contract talk has gone quiet. At least RM has time to work on how to replace him.
145 Posted 22/09/2013 at 06:49:46
Leighton Baines, he is our hero,
Leighton Baines, he is the one,
Leighton Baines, he's a blue for ever,
Leighton Baines of Ev-er-ton
i am sure the more creative could fine tune it a bit. possibly the third line could be "He's the best left back in all football".
Before he took the second free-kick yesterday, I was thinking of Kevin Sheedy in the cup tie at Goodison. I was in the Gwladys Street that day. I don't understand why Alan Stubbs would say he wanted to leave.... best kept in house. Very strange, but I loved Leighton's celebration. Far more meaningful than kissing the badge.
173 Posted 22/09/2013 at 09:43:22
181 Posted 22/09/2013 at 10:18:45
Really can't remember it happening.
210 Posted 22/09/2013 at 12:11:30
Home - Bolton in December 2004 (W 3-2)
Away - Metalist in October 2007 (W 3-2)
218 Posted 22/09/2013 at 12:32:45
I'm glad Lyndon thought Osman was effective. Towards the end he was bullied off the ball no end and lost it about 4 times in quick succession, but for most of the game I thought he did quite well.
I'd also agree with Milos, who thought Barry didn't have a great game. But still, he did okay and it wasn't like we were carrying him which is often the case for Osman or Heitinga. I actually think that Mohammed Diame was just head and shoulders over anyone else in midfield yesterday which is one reason we struggled. He basically ran the show and caused us lots of problems defensively and going forward.
I wouldn't be so sure that Baines will be leaving, either. By Christmas, I'm hoping that our chances of European qualification will be looking as good as or better than OFM, who I still think will struggle under the intense pressure to get into the top 4 and win something.
For the first time since the mid-80s, we actually have real quality in all areas of the pitch, and probably one of the scariest strikers in Europe leading our line. I can see some serious drubbings coming up for some unlucky teams...
222 Posted 22/09/2013 at 12:38:16
1) Lukaku — after the Chelsea game, the forums were full of "and we still have Lukaku to come in" almost as if he was going to be a guaranteed instant saviour. Well, I don't remember him being as good as that for WBA. Great link up play, players like Barkley and Mirallas must be foaming at the mouth.
2) The apparent purging of players that do not appear to be good enough for the strongest starting 11. Naismith, Ossie and Jelavic should now be behind McCarthy, Oviedo, Lukaku, Deulofeu and probably Kone unless (particularly in Jelavic's case) a serious improvement in form is evident.
Team for Tuesday should include Robles, Stones, Heitinga, Oviedo, Deulofeu and (if fit) Gibson, Pienaar and Kone.
Man, I'm excited.
226 Posted 22/09/2013 at 13:07:49
231 Posted 22/09/2013 at 13:24:43
However, if I may play Devil's Advocate for a moment:
1. Watching the MotD highlights, Barkley was lucky to still be on the pitch when he won that free kick. OK it looks worse in slo-mo, but that yellow he got could so easily have been a red.
2. This time next year yesterday's goalscorers will probably not be Everton players.
Still, let's enjoy it while it lasts, eh? COYB!
236 Posted 22/09/2013 at 13:55:39
And Roger...cheer up mate.
241 Posted 22/09/2013 at 14:35:14
244 Posted 22/09/2013 at 14:47:12
So many good things about yesterday but a few not so good. The starting eleven I suppose mainly due to some players having a hand in the goal against Chelski but one would hope that RM is quickly sorting out his best starting eleven.
It may take a few more games due to the recent injuries but the whole squad suddenly looks a lot stronger with equally good players coming off the bench to do a job. It would be nice to see Alcaraz become available as the central defence seems to have more holes than usual and may need shaking up..
Let's hope whatever team plays against Fulham wins and makes it a hat-trick of London scalps.
248 Posted 22/09/2013 at 15:08:35
250 Posted 22/09/2013 at 15:31:38
253 Posted 22/09/2013 at 15:03:58
Great result. Struggled in the first half, but once the Beast was released it was terrific entertainment.
West Ham are a tough nut to crack these days, Big Sam has them well drilled, dirty bastards too. Not many will score twice there let alone three
Mike Gaynes 129 - you are pissing against the wind mate, some people are so obsessed with the past, they can't enjoy the present. The fact that we have come from behind to win at the Boleyn several times in recent years seems lost on them. Leave them to their bitterness and enjoy the here and now.
254 Posted 22/09/2013 at 15:05:39
Their second goal was a strange one. After the Jags cock-up McCarthy didn't bother to challenge Petric because he obviously thought the ball had gone out of play. Nolan then completely bamboozled Gareth Barry who tackled thin air and left us totally exposed. Caught unawares, McCarthy flew in too close and wiley old Nolan said "Thank you very much" and went down like a sack of spuds. What a farce. A goal to forget in a hurry.
Never mind. All's well that ends well....and it did. Being a Blue is great but it's not always easy.
257 Posted 22/09/2013 at 16:13:34
259 Posted 22/09/2013 at 16:27:40
265 Posted 22/09/2013 at 16:49:21
Toure just scored off a corner to give City a 2-0 lead. The defender who lost his mark and left Toure alone three yards out was some Fella with big hair.
397 Posted 22/09/2013 at 18:51:34
456 Posted 22/09/2013 at 20:43:53
Seven minutes of stoppage time and it was actually quite comfortable viewing. Our calmness and ability to retain possession was very encouraging. You can't help but compare it to how we would have approached the same situation least season...and smile.
458 Posted 22/09/2013 at 21:08:43
473 Posted 22/09/2013 at 21:14:08
Lukaku upfront will really change the way we play offering something over the top with Mirallas and Barkley will really stretch the play if the opposition squeeze our possession play from the back. Looking forward to the second string throwing their hats in the ring for Fulham.
Alcaraz if fit
488 Posted 22/09/2013 at 21:58:44
Useful side but as Mike pointed out earlier; I'm not so sure Lukaku should be rushed back in so quickly. The lad didn't even know he scored; and for example, the IRB (International Rugby Board) has a minimum three week stand-down period for concussion. So we'll see what the club docs say.
I think we may make three or four changes; but the game on Tuesday is a great opportunity for a cup so I'd love for us to not break the momentum too much - first and foremost is to get the win. Fulham away is decent challenge, and like us they would see this game as a chance to win a title, so they'll be well up for it.
530 Posted 22/09/2013 at 22:31:34
"Seven minutes of injury time should have been a nail-biting nightmare as the Hammers chased the game but with Everton's ability to keep hold of the ball these days, they passed largely without incident at their end".
Couldn't agree more, also against Chelsea when we went ahead we looked comfortable and time ticks down allot faster when our players are used to passing the ball about. I think under RM we will be very difficult to beat when we get ahead in matches I hope!!!!
554 Posted 22/09/2013 at 22:43:03
"The opposition can't score if we don't give them the ball".
And although all this constant "DM would / wouldn't have done that or won that" bullshit is getting tiresome already, I am pretty sure the above concept was never really grasped in his 11 years!
What a refreshing change!
575 Posted 22/09/2013 at 23:26:40
That doesn't make me any less delighted at how well Martinez is doing.
It also doesn't prevent me from enjoying the hit-by-a-truck expressions on the faces of Moyes and Pip as they got run over by City this morning. I can admire their accomplishments here and still get a big laugh out of it.
800 Posted 23/09/2013 at 14:21:41
Everton struggling in the first half, Martinez takes two players off puts two subs on and changes the game around. And on Sunday, Moyes Utd struggling in the first half, no changes, the game stays the same, more goals against before he changes it.
So far so good; let's get behind the manager even if sometimes the players struggle adapting to the new system.
I wonder what the price is to insure Baines's left leg? Is there any other full back as good at free kicks? Listen to Charlie Nichols on Sky Sports if you are in doubt.
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