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Everton gave outgoing manager David Moyes the perfect Goodison Park farewell with a convincing 2-0 win over West Ham United. A pair of goals from Kevin Mirallas gave Everton their sixth home Barclays Premier League win in succession, as Moyes' side ensured they would finish above Liverpool for the second season in a row, a feat that had not been achieved since 1937.
Moyes, who will leave Merseyside to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in the off-season, used his notes in the official programme to thank the Everton supporters, and he was afforded a terrific reception by the packed crowd prior to kick-off.
But once the whistle blew, it was just how Moyes would have wanted it: Everton were straight down to business. They started full of energy and played with freedom, as Leon Osman pulled the strings in midfield. Defender Sylvain Distin poked the ball just wide in the fourth minute and two minutes later the first goal came, as Mirallas finished a superb team move. Leighton Baines created the passage of play, beating a man before passing to Marouane Fellaini, and his quick ball movement found Steven Pienaar, who in turn released Mirallas, with the Belgian side-footing past West Ham goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen from 18 yards.
Darron Gibson hit a volley just over in the aftermath, while Victor Anichebe and Osman also had attempts on goal. Anichebe was a constant threat, having a shot deflected wide before Jaaskelainen made a great block with his legs to deny the Nigerian in the 25th minute.
The away side enjoyed a brief spell of pressure just after the half-hour mark, with captain Kevin Nolan having two attempts on goal – one of which required a smart save from Tim Howard – while a series of blocks kept Everton at bay. James Collins made two last-ditch challenges to deny Anichebe and Fellaini, while Nolan lunged at a Mirallas strike to keep the margin to one goal at half-time.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce introduced striker Carlton Cole at the break, in place of midfielder Mohamed Diame, but it did little to stem Everton's flow. Mirallas had two chances early in the second half, while Seamus Coleman also went close, as Everton continued to excite.
West Ham could have no arguments when Everton finally got the second goal and it was no surprise that Mirallas was the scorer. He latched onto a smart Gibson pass, switched the ball from his left foot to his right, and hit a 20-yard effort that beat Jaaskelainen, via a deflection off Collins.
Moyes clenched his fists in joy at the goal, and his smile might have grown wider if Osman had converted a golden chance in the 68th minute, but after a Steven Pienaar cut-back, his effort was superbly saved by Jaaskelainen. Everton could have scored a third goal, but Anichebe headed wide while Osman was again denied by Jaaskelainen late on.
West Ham fired two late warning shots, with substitute Joe Cole's left-footed effort requiring Howard to make a good save, while Carroll headed a Matt Jarvis cross onto a post with three minutes to go. Everton, though, were more than deserving of a two-goal win as Moyes finished with a record of 113 wins from his 213 matches in charge at Goodison Park.
Everton manager David Moyes: "We played as well as we have in a long time. We scored a well-worked goal in the first half and but for a couple of great saves and a few bad misses we would have had more. The crowd showed today what a big club Everton is, and today that was their part in it all. It was an emotional time during the second half because they got right behind their football club. They got the team that second goal.
"The crowd today showed what Everton means to them. I count myself extremely lucky. I have had a really good chairman and board who will let me get on with things. That is what Everton do: they want stability."
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: "By the way we played today I have to say we were lucky to get away with the 2-0. There's only one player who has been outstanding for us today and that was Jussi Jaaskelainen. He made some absolutely outstanding saves.
"I warned the players before the game what it was going to be like and it was exactly that and we simply couldn't cope with it today. It's always difficult coming here but this occasion made it even more difficult. And we saw that, not just by the performances of Everton players in possession, but by their performance without the ball.
"They gave us no time on the ball whatsoever. As soon as they lost it, they ran us down, they shut us down, they squeezed us and pressed us and we couldn't get anything because of the energy they showed."
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|20 Dec 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|26 Dec 2014||v Everton (H)|
|28 Dec 2014||v Newcastle (A)|
|01 Jan 2015||v Hull (A)|
|10 Jan 2015||v Everton (H)|