Sunday 21 January 2018

Lukaku double seals Toffees' superb revival

West Brom 2 Everton 3

Everton's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their third goal against West Brom
Everton's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their third goal against West Brom
Everton's Arouna Kone battles with West Brom's James Chester
West Brom's Rickie Lambert looks dejected
West Bromwich Albion's Craig Dawson and Everton's Ross Barkley battle for the ball

John Percy

Last season Romelu Lukaku refused to celebrate against West Brom but this time there were extravagant somersaults and blue flares shooting into the night sky.

Lukaku established his reputation in the Premier League at the Hawthorns and simply cannot stop scoring there, with his two goals proving pivotal in an Everton comeback not even the most ardent Blue could have predicted.

The £28m striker scored 17 goals on loan at Albion two seasons ago to earn his move away from Chelsea and it was his 84th-minute winner that sets Roberto Martinez up perfectly for the Merseyside derby this weekend.

After a sterile first half, in which Saido Berahino further boosted his standing with Albion fans with another goal, Tony Pulis must have been hoping for that elusive first home victory after a Craig Dawson header increased the home team's lead.

But Lukaku sparked a remarkable shift in the game with the first goal before delivering the final blow to the supporters who once idolised him, after substitute Arouna Kone had restored parity.

It will have been a comeback to create more headaches for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, as Everton will face their closest rivals on Sunday in confident mood.

This never looked likely to prove a feast of goals, or a ratings winner for Monday night television coverage, as both managers have seen more clean sheets this season than a launderette.

Pulis has always been renowned for his masterful defensive organisation and his players are so disciplined it can sometimes be like watching table football. No team has secured more shut-outs this year in the Premier League than West Brom, even with Pulis playing most members of his defence out of their normal positions.

All of which made the chaos of the final half-hour all the more surprising as it took substitute Kone less than three minutes to prove a shrewd introduction.

Lukaku cleverly created space and threaded the ball through to the Ivorian, who was just onside to drill the ball past Boaz Myhill.

Everton always looked likely to steal it and they secured victory six minutes from time when Lukaku capitalised on a loose ball to blast home from a yard.

Rickie Lambert should have equalised shortly after his own introduction as a substitute but produced a bewildering miss, further cheering the Everton fans who will remember his disappointing spell across Stanley Park.

They will hope to be cheering when the two teams meet on Sunday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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