The Blues and Baggies began the match just one place off each other in the table, and set up for an important game in terms of the fight for 7th place and potential Europa League qualification.
Ronald Koeman named a bit of an odd side, with Gareth Barry favored over Idrissa Gueye, while Ramiro Funes Mori was dropped for Phil Jagielka. Tony Pulis was caught on a live mic several times instructing his players to press the Everton captain and try to force an error, but Jagielka stood tall in his return to the lineup.
Hal Robson-Kanu was inserted into the West Bromwich Albion lineup in favor of Salomon Rondon, but was unable to make much of an effect in the first half, as Everton dominated the possession battle.
However, the Baggies consistently proved a threat on the counter, which forced Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman to stay home more than Koeman would have liked. James McLean was a big threat for West Brom, and it was fortunate that Matt Phillips missed the match due to injury thanks to his pace and one-on-one ability in the open field.
Everton’s dominance eventually paid off before halftime. Romelu Lukaku consistently toyed with the West Brom defenders, and found Ross Barkley at the top of the area. Barkley put a hard, direct shot on Ben Foster, who spilled it into the feet of Kevin Mirallas. The Belgian slotted home with ease, and the Blues were on their way.
Not long after, Lukaku shouldered Jonny Evans off easily, and flicked the ball into the path of Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman’s first touch was exquisite, and he reached the ball before Ben Foster, ably putting it into the net for his first goal for Everton and a 2-0 halftime lead.
The second half saw both sides settle down a bit, with the match being largely contested in the middle of the park. Leighton Baines was withdrawn at halftime with a suspected back injury for Ramiro Funes Mori. The Argentinian defender has experience at left-back for his national side, so he got the call from Ronald Koeman over Mason Holgate.
West Brom never truly threatened in the second frame, despite bringing on Salomon Rondon and James Morrison. Phil Jagielka looked superb in his return to the lineup, albeit in limited opportunities to defend a poor Baggies attack.
Koeman’s inclusion of Barry over Idrissa Gueye proved to be a good one, and the manager’s substitutions were on point as well. Gana was brought on to help see out the win, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin got an opportunity in his first game back from injury. The young forward was lively in the last few minutes, even drawing a yellow card on Gareth McAuley.
Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku found space late in the game and combined excellently for Everton’s final goal. Barkley lifted an excellent chipped cross into the area, and Lukaku was able to easily nod it home past Ben Foster for his 20th goal in all competitions. He is now tied with Harry Kane for the Premier League goal lead on 19.
The only blemish on the day would have to be Leighton Baines’ injury and Funes Mori’s subsequent performance. The Englishman’s replacement offered nothing going forward, and looked poor in possession, including several instances of going to ground too early.
All told, it was an encouraging three points for the Toffees. Ronald Koeman’s efforts to make Goodison Park a difficult place to play again have paid off handsomely. West Brom were utterly lifeless for much of the match, but Everton hardly put a foot wrong.
The Blues were once again carried by Lukaku and Barkley, while Tom Davies and Jagielka acquitted themselves well. Morgan Schneiderlin’s first goal in the shirt was a welcome sight, and Everton continued to put space between themselves and West Brom in the table.