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Everton were held to their second successive draw of the new Barclays Premier League season as they shared a goalless affair with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Both sides had chances of note in a game largely defined by an entertaining tussle between the teams' respective midfields, but Marouane Fellaini could have given his side the points late on at Goodison Park only for his close-range effort to bounce back off the post. A Seamus Coleman cross-cum-shot also hit the bar in injury-time as Everton were left frustrated.
The draw represented the second such result for the hosts in as many games in the new season, while West Brom got off the mark following their disappointing last-minute loss to Southampton last weekend.
Having been pleased with his side's efforts in an opening-day draw with Norwich City, Roberto Martinez named an unchanged home team. Steve Clarke, meanwhile, made just one alteration despite his side's disappointing 1-0 defeat by Southampton, as Nicolas Anelka – who was allowed leave on compassionate grounds earlier in the week – was replaced by Markus Rosenberg.
Fans were treated to an entertaining start at Goodison Park, as both teams exchanged counter-attacks in a frenetic opening five minutes. Everton had the best of these chances, with Steven Pienaar's goal-bound stooping header from a Ross Barkley cross bringing a fine save from Ben Foster, and the South African forced the 30-year-old into action again soon after with a low left-footed drive.
Those two efforts preceded a spell of domination for the hosts, as they displayed the expansive style new manager Martinez is attempting to instil during a period of possession. West Brom arguably created the best two chances of that stint, however, as Youssouf Mulumbu curled the ball narrowly wide before James Morrison's half-volley dipped just over the crossbar.
The battle of wills in midfield continued into the early stages of second half, though West Brom came close to breaking the deadlock when Graham Dorrans' inswinging free-kick was hacked away at the back post by Nikica Jelavic. Everton then took their turn to go close as Foster dived low to his right to keep out Barkley's long-distance effort before getting up well to stop Fellaini smashing in the rebound.
The topsy-turvy nature of the encounter did not let up as time progressed and West Brom again went close just past the hour mark when Tim Howard kept out a driven effort from Morrison. But the introduction of Matej Vydra and Arouna Kone around the 70-minute mark came as no surprise, with goals proving elusive for both teams.
It was a striker who had started the match who went closest next, however, with Shane Long's low left-footed effort being well kept out by a diving Howard in the Everton goal. The hosts were offered some hope in the 78th minute, when the seemingly unbeatable Foster made way for substitute shot-stopper Luke Daniels after picking up an injury.
And the 25-year-old was in fact lucky not to concede in the immediate aftermath of his arrival. Fellaini did well to control a Phil Jagielka diagonal pass into the box on his chest but his poked finish came back off the inside of the far post before being desperately cleared by a sliding Jonas Olsson.
Daniels was called upon again with just three minutes of normal time remaining as he got down to stop a deflected Coleman strike and had to watch the Irishman's cross onto the bar, but both teams were forced to settle for a point after failing to grab a crucial goal in the final moments.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: "I have been very encouraged. In both draws we were the team that deserved the three points. At Norwich, clearly with the amount of chances we created and going 2-1 ahead, it was a disappointment to drop two points. Today we were a little frustrated in the first half, but as the game went on, you could only see us scoring.
"West Brom were a threat from set-plays and I thought we dealt with it really well. They were really dangerous on the counter-attack and we coped with that too. There are many areas that we need to improve, that's clear. But keeping a clean sheet today in the manner that the game went is very encouraging. I see two positive draws rather than points dropped from both."
West Brom head coach Steve Clarke: "I said to the boys it was nice to see West Bromwich Albion back. The first game was disappointing but we played very well. This is a difficult place. Everton are a good team, but we showed today that we are also a good team.
"We had to dig in and defend properly, and with a little bit more quality on the counter-attack we could have created more opportunities than we did, but we still had one or two opportunities that on another day we could have scored.
“The three boys we have got, Markus Rosenberg, Shane Long and Matej Vydra, are good and all have goals in them. The goals will come. That doesn't concern me. Today was about digging in and getting a good result, but we played a lot of good football, too."
|26 Apr 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|30 Mar 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|22 Feb 2014||v Chelsea (A)|
|20 Jan 2014||v West Brom (A)|
|19 Oct 2013||v Hull (H)|
|21 Sep 2013||v West Ham (A)|