Everton are winners in the Premier League for the first time in more than a month. On Sunday, they beat West Ham 2-0 at Goodison Park thanks to a brilliant second half that saw both Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley get onto the scoresheet.
It was the Hammers who looked to be on top in the opening 45 minutes of the match. The kept more of the possession and created more chances, but they couldn’t get a ball past Joel Robles.
Robles was given his first action of the 2016-17 season after Maarten Stekelenburg was scratched with a foot injury. It was a surprise, but Robles played really well between the sticks.
On the attacking side of things, Lukaku seemed to be working extra hard to get himself involved. Coming into the match, he had scored eight goals in eight matches against West Ham as an Evertonian. Today, he added to that total.
In the 50th minute, Seamus Coleman put a left-footed shot on goal. Adrian, the West Ham goalkeeper, kept it out, but the rebound fell to a hustling Yannick Bolaise. The winger’s slide-in enabled him to cross the ball onto Lukaku’s head. All it needed was a touch. 1-0 Everton.
The goal seemed to strengthen the Toffees. West Ham just couldn’t get much of anything going on attack. Robles was solid between the sticks, parrying away a few shots and organizing his defense.
Going forward, the work rates of Bolaise, Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas kept the pressure on the Hammers. Tom Cleverley came in for Mirallas and maintained the aggressiveness. The visiting defense soon folded under it again in the 76th minute.
It was Lukaku in the middle of all of it. He had the ball down in the right corner of the penalty area. He looked up to see Barkley all alone on the other side of the box. A little cross, and Ross hit the pass off the bounce and into the back of the net. 2-0 Everton.
From there, the Blues saw out what felt like an easy three points towards the end. Lukaku nearly scored again. And Idrissa Gueye should have earned a penalty in stoppage time, but the referee didn’t give it. It really was an impressive showing in the final 45 minutes from the Blues.
They could stand to carry this form into their next match as they travel to Chelsea on Saturday. Whatever the case, they will have to go without Gueye. His first-half yellow card gets him a suspension for card accumulation.
Other positives: Coleman had a really good game. His strength against Michail Antonio was unexpected. Also, Bryan Oviedo rebounded from a couple tough weeks. And Barry was strong in the first half as the rest of the club struggled.
But the big thing to take from this game: Barkley is back. He has risen to the challenge thrown at him by Ronald Koeman. This goal should give Ross some confidence and get his creative juices flowing again.
Sometimes, soccer/football is fun. Today was one of those days.