Everton picked up their first win of the Barclays Premier League season at the fourth time of asking as they inflicted a 2-0 defeat on West Bromwich Albion.
Belgium forwards Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas struck the decisive blows for Roberto Martinez's side, with Albion contributing to their own downfall at The Hawthorns.
Jonas Olsson gifted the ball to Lukaku for the opening goal of the game in the second minute and Ben Foster allowed a shot from Mirallas to sneak under his body midway through the second half. West Brom showed plenty of endeavour in trying to get back into the match but demonstrated a lack of composure in front of goal as they slipped to a second league defeat of the season.
Saido Berahino and Craig Gardner had their best openings but both lashed efforts over the crossbar, with Tim Howard rarely forced into a save. The win moves Everton into the top half of the table at this early stage of the season while Albion, who have only won four home league matches in the last 12 months, occupy the relegation zone.
With only two minutes played winless Albion showed their fragility as Olsson handed Everton the initiative after failing to deal with a poor cross from Leighton Baines. The England left-back’s delivery eluded any blue shirts in the penalty area, but Olsson scuffed his clearance straight to Lukaku and he finished emphatically from 18 yards with a curling effort.
Alan Irvine's side, who were without Stephane Sessegnon with an eye injury, responded well to going behind but were unable to test Tim Howard in the Everton goal, Berahino going closest as he lashed a 12th-minute effort over the crossbar.
The hosts continued to pose more of an attacking threat up until the break but suffered from a lack of quality in the final third. On several occasions the final ball into the penalty was easily cleared by the visitors and when chances did present themselves they were wasted by Berahino and Brown Ideye.
West Brom's attacking momentum continued in the second half but it was Everton who went closest to the game's second goal. After leaving Olsson on the floor Lukaku stretched Ben Foster with a low shot, the England goalkeeper parried the ball into the path of Steven Naismith but he blazed over from six yards.
Everton's second goal of the game came in the 66th minute as another mistake from Albion allowed Mirallas to score. Having jinked away from the Albion defence the 26-year-old fired towards the bottom corner and his shot squirmed under the body of Foster and into the back of the net.
Aiden McGeady could have extended Everton's advantage with 17 minutes to play but the forward was unable to repeat his midweek goal for the Republic of Ireland as he fired wide.
Berahino and substitute Georgios Samaras finally tested Howard in stoppage time with shots in quick succession but the American was up to the challenge and preserved his clean sheet.
West Brom manager Alan Irvine: “Obviously we got off to the worst possible start. Jonas has tried to clear it, he’s not cleared it properly and it’s a fantastic finish by Romelu Lukaku.
“Then we played really well in the first half. We got into crossing positions time after time, we delivered a lot of crosses into the box, we gave a really good Everton team a tough old time, but it was one of those ones where you don’t want half-time to come.
“Second half we didn’t get out of the blocks as we’d ended the first half. We were probably drawn into the game at that particular time, when unfortunately there was another individual error.
“Both players are obviously extremely disappointed, it’s not normal for them to do that but it happens and we have to deal with that. Now we make sure we do our work on the training ground and make sure we get a better result next time.
“There is a lot of hard work gone on, the players have been great in terms of the way they have been responding, but we’re making some errors at the moment and we’re getting punished for them.
“Obviously any big mistakes are going to erode confidence to some extent. But they are a good group of lads, they have been very, very good to work with and there are good characters in the dressing room. I’m sure they will recover from that kind of setback.”
Everton manager Roberto Martinez: “I felt we deserved the win. We scored at the right times. West Brom were fantastic considering they are a team in transition and trying to bed in a number of new players. They wanted to press us high up, that is why we saw such an open and exciting game to watch.
“They played with a lot of energy and dynamism so to create the amount of chances that we did was pleasing. I felt we never looked like conceding, apart from when we gave the ball away in the last action and even then, the reaction was one of refusing to concede goal.
“Keeping a clean sheet was more important than the result today. We have been focusing a lot in pre-season on keeping the ball and breaking teams down. We went to Leicester and were very good for 86 minutes and then a deflected shot ends up at the feet of their striker and we end up with a draw.
“After that we lost our confidence and every time in our defensive duties, when a ball was deflected, it looked like it was going to end up in the back of our net. That’s not our normal focus or intensity in the defensive play.
“It was vital today that we had that side of our performance and then on top of that we didn’t lose what we are good at and what we are. I thought we showed both sides really well in our performance.”
|21 Sep 2014||v Spurs (A)|
|28 Sep 2014||v Burnley (H)|
|04 Oct 2014||v Liverpool (A)|
|20 Oct 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|25 Oct 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|
|01 Nov 2014||v Leicester (A)|