Saturday 17 March 2018

Lukaku makes point again

West Ham United 1 Everton 1

West Ham's Cheikhou Kouyate chases down Everton's Ross Barkley
West Ham's Cheikhou Kouyate chases down Everton's Ross Barkley
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic celebrates his side's goal

Barney Ronay

Romelu Lukaku continued to wage his personal crusade against West Ham, scoring on his seventh successive appearance against the Hammers on a wet afternoon at Upton Park.

Otherwise this was a low-pressure meeting of two neat, quick-passing teams, illuminated by some nice touches but little in the way of unbound attacking play.

When counter-attack meets counter-attack the result is often strangely lukewarm, and neither team here looked to have the will to commit to a more aggressive approach. By the end, a 1-1 draw seemed fair in a game marked out by two fantastic first-half goals, the first a dreamy finish by Manuel Lanzini, the second from Lukaku made by an outstanding through pass from Gerard Deulofeu.

If there was little in the way of sustained pressure, it wasn't for the want of attacking talent on the pitch. Both teams had lined up in a sprightly-looking 4-2-3-1, with Andy Carroll starting his second Premier League game in a row for the first time since January for West Ham and Dimitri Payet and Deulofeu in fine form of late. Carroll was eventually applauded from the pitch having done very little of note, having spent much of the previous 86 minutes chasing John Stones. Payet suffered a heavy tackle in the first half from Ireland's James McCarthy and never recovered.

West Ham started brightly with Payet making an early thrust down the inside right channel and teeing up Victor Moses for a shot that crept wide.

Both teams had settled into a slightly cautious rhythm by the time Lanzini produced a moment of class on the half-hour mark to open the scoring. Moses again drove into the box, and shot hard and low. The ball was deflected and finally cleared by Stones to Lanzini 30 yards out, who shifted the ball between his feet and curled a sensational finish over Tim Howard and into the top corner.

Everton's equaliser two minutes before half-time came from a moment of brilliance from Deulofeu as Payet lost the ball trying to slalom past McCarthy in Everton's half.

Deulofeu picked the ball up and slid a gorgeous pass through, perfectly weighted for Lukaku to run on, take the ball around Adrian and finish. The pass was perfection, the West Ham defence filleted too easily. Plus, of course, Lukaku is the hammer of the Hammers.

West Ham continued to press the harder, but a draw was a fair result in a match that only flickered, between two teams who never seemed interested in committing enough players forward in search of a win. Observer

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