Everton 2 - 0 West Ham
Everton handed Marco Silva a massive victory over West Ham as the Portuguese's changes and a renewed hunger bore fruit in a 2-0 win at Goodison Park.
In what was easily their most complete performance of the season, the Blues dominated the match almost from start to finish but were almost made to pay for a lack of clinical finishing at one end when Jordan Pickford made a brilliant point-blank stop at the other to deny Angelo Ogbonna with seven minutes left.
Had the Italian defender scored it would have cancelled out Bernard's excellent first-half opener and been rough justice on an Everton team who appeared determined to prove their critics wrong after a run of four successive defeats and who had already hit the woodwork twice.
As it was, Silva introduced Gylfi Sigurdsson with four minutes left and the Icelander, no doubt smarting at being dropped from the starting XI, smashed home a trademark goal at the end to seal three badly-needed points.
Under pressure following a terrible start to the season, Silva needed to mix things up and he did that by making five changes to the team that lost at Burnley a fortnight ago. Fabian Delph and Morgan Schneiderlin were both absent with minor injuries so André Gomes and Tom Davies were deployed in central midfield.
Sigurdsson made way for Alex Iwobi to move inside to a central role, Bernard was played wide on the left opposite Theo Walcott and Richarlison was given a fluid role up front.
An overly aggressive start by Everton threatened to undermine their cause early on as Mario Lanzini was handed an opportunity in the third minute but he fired a direct free-kick wide after Richarlison had fouled Felipe Anderson.
But the home side soon took control of proceedings and should have gone ahead after just eight minutes. The ball dropped to Davies just a few yards out following a corner but he could only steer his shot straight at Roberto on the line.
Nine minutes later, Bernard's reluctance to take his chance first time appeared to have allowed a good opportunity to slip away but he twisted his marker into knots, drew the goalkeeper and stabbed it under him to put Everton 1-0 up.
Showing great movement and awareness, Iwobi threaded Richarlison in down the channel but the Brazilian hammered a snap shot off the outside of the post.
The Hammers were being largely contained in the first half and only briefly threatened when Mark Noble clipped a ball over the top for Pablo Fornals but his header was comfortably gathered by Pickford.
A rare lapse in Everton's defence almost let the Spaniard in six minutes into the second half but, thankfully, Fornals bounced a shot wide when he really should have hit the target.
Silva's men, meanwhile, continued their quest for an all-important second goal and after Roberto had caught two Yerry Mina headers from corners, Walcott thundered a crisply-shot effort off the crossbar.
Mina would have a headed goal off another corner inexplicably ruled out by referee Paul Tierney and Iwobi wasted a golden chance to out the game to bed when played in with just the keeper to beat, toe-poking it into Roberto's body when he just needed to place it either side.
Still with just a one-goal advantage heading into the final 10 minutes, the Blues were finally tested from a corner in the 83rd minute and Goodison held its collective breath as Sebastian Haller won the initial header. The ball dropped to Ogbonna who quickly tried to convert from close range but Pickford parried it from point-blank range despite it taking a heavy deflection off Mina.
That would prove to be West Ham's best and last chance and it was left for Sigurdsson to have the last word. He had already forced a one-handed save from Roberto in his first involvement after coming on for Iwobi in a double change that also saw Moise Kean come on for Walcott when he received the ball 20-plus yards from goal. Feigning a shot as Jack Wilshire lunged to block, the substitute turned it back onto his right foot and then blasted into the top corner.
With the broad consensus being that Silva's neck was on the block had Everton lost this game, it was a hugely welcome result for the manager. More than that, it was a performance of much-needed intensity and commitment that should serve as the benchmark going forward.