Goodison stunned by another late capitulation

05/03/2016  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
Everton 2 - 3 West Ham United

Romelu Lukaku became the first Everton player to score eight successive goals against the same team but also missed a penalty prior to the Blues' collapse

Everton somehow threw away another 2-0 lead and ended up on the losing end of a 3-2 scoreline as Dimitri Payet completed West Ham’s late comeback against at Goodison Park.

Despite having played over 40 minutes with 10 men following Kevin Mirallas’s early dismissal for two bookable offences, the Blues were in control of what was a vital game in the context of their European ambitions.

After opening the scoring in the first half with a tremendous turn and finish, Romelu Lukaku had combined with Aaron Lennon to put Roberto Martinez’s depleted side two goals to the good 11 minutes after half time when the winger notched his fifth goal in seven matches.

The Belgian then had a gilt-edged chance to make it 3-0 but side-footed a weak penalty kick that was easily saved before the contest swung almost inevitably in the Hammers’ favour.

John Stones coming in for Gareth Barry was Everton's one change from the team that had won at Aston Villa on Tuesday evening to set them up for three successive home games that will have a huge bearing on their season. With the hitherto ever-present Barry apparently on the bench because of illness, Stones slotted into a back three alongside Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Fun Mori.

Bryan Oviedo had recovered from the knock he sustained against Aston Villa on Tuesday and started with Leighton Baines, Gerard Deulofeu and Oumar Niasse start on the bench and Tom Cleverley still suffering from a chest infection. 

The Blues started well and had a number of early forays forward, one of which resulted in back-to-back corners after James McCarthy's excellent left-foot strike was pushed over by Adrian. 

There was a strong penalty claim on the second set-piece when Stones appeared to be dragged down by Reece Oxford but referee Anthony Taylor  did not react to his appeals. 

West Ham responded, however, as they found their feet in the game and Dimitri Payet shaved the post with a low drive from 20-plus yards. 

Lukaku made Everton history shortly afterwards, though, when he rolled his marker brilliantly and hammered a shot in off the far post to become the first Blues player ever to score eight times in succession against the same opposition. 

West Ham had a spell after the goal, trying to capitalise on the space in front of the back four in Barry’s absence but the Blues restricted them to efforts from distance while remaining dangerous themselves, particularly through Lennon who forced another corner with 23 minutes gone. 

The loose ball from the set-piece was kept in on the byline and found its way back to Ross Barkley who chested forward and unloaded a left-foot volley that Adrian had to dive to parry away. 

A clumsy foul by Seamus Coleman then handed the Hammers a set-piece opportunity of their own which eventually had to be knocked behind by Ramiro Funes Mori and Angelo Ogbonna went down under the Argentine’s challenge but, again, the official as unmoved by claims for a penalty. 

Adrian spilled a fairly tame effort by Lukaku but the ‘keeper recovered and Everton came forward again a couple of minutes later when their task was hugely complicated by a second yellow card for Mirallas. 

Already on a yellow card for simulation, the Belgian slid in late on Aaron Cresswell and, following enraged protests by the visiting players, the referee flashed him a second yellow in only the 35th minute. 

Everton retained their composure but survived a scare four minutes before the break when Emenike got in on the end of a whipped cross from the West Ham left and was foiled by a good save from Robles. 

Martinez withdrew Stones at half time and introduced  Muhamed Besic to shore up defensive midfield while his opposite number Slaven Bilic took off Oxford in favour of Andy Carroll. 

It was Everton who remained on top, however, and they doubled their lead with a superb, incisive move that ended with Lukaku touching the ball on for Lennon to steal in and slot past the goalkeeper 11 minutes into the second half.

Another clumsy foul after Robles’ ill-advised quick throw-out was intercepted kept the Blues under pressure following a corner and Antonio glanced a header wide from Payet’s dangerous delivery, a foreshadowing of what was to come in the final 12 minutes.
 
Managing their numerical disadvantage well, Everton looked set to put the game almost beyond West Ham’s reach when Besic danced his way to the edge of the box and was tripped right on the line by Alex Song. Referee Taylor finally pointed to the spot but Lukaku fluffed his lines.

The Belgian was then put through on goal a few minutes later with another great chance to seal it but Adrian did well to spread himself and got a vital foot to the shot as Lukaku tried to flick it past him.

Martinez substituted Lennon with 15 minutes to go, handing Niasse his home debut off the bench but the pendulum swung irrevocably in West Ham’s direction in the 78th minute when Michael Antonio out-jumped Funes Mori to halve the home side’s lead.

Three minutes later, the wind was sucked out of Goodison by a Hammers equaliser as Diafro Sakho rose between two defenders to head into the corner. And the Toffees’ misery was complete in the 90th minute when another header was lost in the box, the ball was flicked into the path of Payet and he slotted past the stranded Robles.

Yet another defeat from a winning position represents a seventh home defeat for Everton and throws up more questions about the team’s defensive fallibility. It also puts a huge dent in their hopes of qualifying for Europe via the Premier League season as they remain in the bottom half of the table with10 games left.

 


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