Everton 0 - 1 West Bromwich Albion
Ross Barkley struck the post in the first half during a spell of intense pressure but the Blues lost their way in the second half
Everton prolonged their terrible home record with a sixth Premier League defeat at Goodison Park this season as West Brom pulled off a textbook Tony Pulis smash-and-grab raid.
Salomon Rondon scored the game’s only goal, helping Jonas Olsson’s looping header over the line from the only corner the Baggies won all game and re-exposing the Toffees’ weaknesses defending set-pieces.
Roberto Martinez’s men threw everything at the visitors in a dizzying 10-minute spell of incessant pressure shortly before half time but were unable to produce the same intensity in the second half as Albion pulled men behind the ball and frustrated their hosts.
With three 3-0 wins on the bounce coming into the game, optimism was high for Evertonians before kick-off and the manager’s decision to retain faith with the line-up that had demolished Stoke last weekend heightened expectations that Everton could record a fourth successive victory.
Tim Howard was passed fit but Joel Robles was preferred to the American, as was Bryan Oviedo to Leighton Baines, but John Stones was not risked so Ramiro Funes Mori continued alongside Phil Jagielka and Aaron Lennon started wide on the right.
And it was the rejuvenated Lennon who was electric in the first half, terrorising the left side of West Brom’s defence and providing the greatest threat for the home side both before and after Rondon’s 14th-minute goal.
Unfortunately, despite his industry and the attacking options provided by Seamus Coleman, Everton were thwarted by the Midlanders' defence and the woodwork as they piled forward as the first period progressed.
A barrage of shots were charged down or deflected wide, Funes Mori had an impressive, header blocked on its way to goal by Jakob, Lennon’s deflected volley was tipped by Ben Foster, and first Ross Barkley and then Tom Cleverley struck the woodwork.
It seemed that it would only be a matter of time before the West Brom damn broke if Everton were able to continue with the same persistence and incisiveness after the interval but they lost their way as the second period wore on, not helped by questionable substitutions, one of which saw veteran Leon Osman come on leaving Kevin Mirallas on the bench.
Nevertheless, with more than three quarters of the possession, chances for the home side were inevitable but Gareth Barry fired inches over, Barkley side-footed disappointingly over the crossbar and Barry looked certain to equalise 11 minutes from the end but his shot was deflected behind.
So more frustration for the Goodison faithful who have seen their side concede more goals at home than any side in Europe’s top leagues this season. The defeat halts an impressive winning run in its tracks and throws fresh doubt on Everton’s prospects of challenging for a top-six finish.
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page