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A late second-half strike by Steven Pienaar sealed the points for Everton at Upton Park as West Ham United surrendered an early lead. Carlton Cole’s opener was cancelled out by Victor Anichebe just after the hour before Cole received his marching orders for a challenge on Leighton Baines. Pienaar grabbed the winner before Darron Gibson saw red in injury-time.
Today's game was a test of how Everton and their opponents coped without their midfield heavyweights, with Toffees star Marouane Fellaini starting a three-match ban and Hammers talisman Mohamed Diame still out injured. There certainly appeared to be a lack of drive from both sides in the opening moments and it was no surprise to see the first chance arrive via a set-piece in the ninth minute. Baines delivered a devilish free-kick, the unmarked Sylvain Distin nodding it into the ground and over the crossbar.
The England left-back produced another cross three minutes later for Osman to head home only for the effort to be disallowed due to a block by Anichebe on goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen. Two minutes later Cole fired West Ham in front, the striker cutting inside the recalled Johnny Heitinga before cracking in a low drive from the edge of the box.
The pace dipped again, although Osman almost provided a moment of inspiration when Nikica Jelavic just strayed offside onto the midfielder's through-ball. Jelavic got his timing wrong again four minutes after half-time when a rare mistake from James Collins saw the ball ricochet through to the striker, who could only send it straight at Jaaskelainen.
Gibson curled a free-kick narrowly wide and Everton continued to probe, prompting West Ham boss Sam Allardyce to replace Gary O'Neill with Modibo Maiga just before the hour mark, a move that almost paid off immediately when the Malian scuffed Cole's cross wide. After that things went downhill for the home side. Maiga got himself booked for pushing Pienaar over in the 64th minute and, from the resultant free-kick, the ball was worked left to the South African, whose cross was glanced home by Anichebe.
Within three minutes West Ham’s day went from bad to worse when a Cole clash with Baines led to the former being sent from the field. The momentum was with Everton and they completed their comeback six minutes later, Osman's cross inadvertently played against Pienaar by Kevin Nolan before trickling into the net.
Ten-man West Ham refused to concede defeat and Nolan almost made amends by volleying narrowly wide. Several substitutions followed, including Jack Collison's first appearance of the season after knee surgery. And just as the game was drifting towards the final whistle, Jelavic sent a rebound wide from barely six yards and Nolan was unable to prod home after being played in at the other end. As a final flourish Gibson also saw red for a foul on Mark Noble in the dying moments although David Moyes’ side hung on for the three points.
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce:
“We could say it is our fault that we lost the game because of the one Kevin missed at the end, unfortunately, because that would have been a massive bonus for us.
“We fought and battled to the end, with 10 men, so to get a golden chance like that and have it fall to our leading goalscorer, I thought, 'Go on Kev make it a pleasant day for us in the end' but unfortunately the shot just went wide of the post instead of going into the net. It would have been too late for Everton to have come back [and score a winner] even with eleven men against 10.
“Then we had the referee sending one of their players off after he had sent Carlton Cole off, so it ended up being a bizarre second half after what was a fantastic first half. We scored a goal and defended as well as we did, but in the end it has all gone pear-shaped.”
Everton manager David Moyes: "We played really well today and in the end rightly got the three points.
"I thought the way we played was terrific. If anyone deserves to be picked for England it was Leon Osman after today's performance. He was on a different planet to anyone on the pitch."
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