Friday 6 December 2019

Everton secure first win of the season at the Hawthorns

Everton's Kevin Mirallas (2nd R) celebrates his goal against West Bromwich Albion with Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines (R)
Everton's Kevin Mirallas (2nd R) celebrates his goal against West Bromwich Albion with Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines (R)

Nick Mashiter

Romelu Lukaku began to repay his £28million fee after Everton cashed in on West Brom's defensive nightmare with a 2-0 victory at the Hawthorns.

The striker pounced after less than two minutes to net his first goal following his permanent return from Chelsea in the summer.

It came after a poor clearance from Jonas Olsson, while Ben Foster added to the home horror show in the second half when he allowed Kevin Mirallas' weak shot to dribble in.

The gaffes proved the difference and Steven Naismith could even afford to miss an open goal for the Toffees.

The Baggies lacked the quality to open up Everton with head coach Alan Irvine still looking for his first Barclays Premier League win of the season.

Foster had shrugged off a thumb problem which forced him out of England duty to start, while James Morrison made his first league start of the season, replacing the injured Youssouf Mulumbu for West Brom.

Stephane Sessegnon was ruled out with blurred vision after taking a ball in the face during training on Friday.

Joleon Lescott failed to make the squad, despite returning to full training after a knee injury, while fellow summer recruits Georgios Samaras and Sebastian Blanco made the bench.

Everton made one change from their 6-3 defeat to Chelsea with John Stones replacing Sylvain Distin at the back.

And the visitors were ahead after just one minute and 40 seconds as Lukaku seized on a mistake from Olsson.

The defender's awful clearance fell straight to the striker who beautifully curled past Foster from 18-yards.

It was Lukaku's first Everton goal since making the permanent move from Stamford Bridge but he was apologetic in his celebrations, having spent the 2012-13 season on loan at the Hawthorns.

Albion tried to respond and Saido Berahino's effort was deflected over as, with the home fans restless, they began to dominate.

There were brief signs of a blossoming partnership between Brown Ideye and Berahino but, for all their bluster, the hosts lacked the quality to seriously threaten Everton.

Chris Brunt hit the side netting and Berahino's shot deflected wide after 33 minutes but Tim Howard remained untroubled.

Everton's threat was minimal but Mirallas warned of what was to come when he fired over from 25-yards eight minutes before the break.

Lukaku followed suit in first-half injury time and Naismith should have made it 2-0 five minutes after the break.

Foster's fine low save from Lukaku presented the Scotland striker with a gaping goal six yards out, only for him to balloon over. It was a huge let off for the Baggies but one they did not heed.

Everton grew increasingly comfortable with the hosts' predictable attacks and doubled their lead following another howler from Albion after 66 minutes.

Mirallas' tame effort from 25-yards out should have been easy for Foster but the England keeper allowed it to creep under his body.

From then it was easy for the visitors and Aiden McGeady shot wide on 73 minutes as the fight left the Baggies.

Samaras and Blanco made their debuts but could not make the difference and Foster saved well from Leon Osman to deny Everton a third.

The keeper thwarted the midfielder again on 88 minutes with a fine low stop after a sweeping Toffees move cut the hosts apart.

And the underemployed Howard had the final say when he denied Berahino and Samaras a consolation in injury time.

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