- Rafael Benitez suffers first home league defeat as Everton manager
- West Ham win on the road again to move into top six
- Ogbonna’s second-half glancing header from a corner the difference
Not for the first time, David Moyes’ name echoed around Goodison Park to savour the sweetest of victories.
Painfully for Everton, the jubilation was exclusively in the away stand as the former manager maintained West Ham’s impressive upward trajectory. Under Moyes, West Ham look as accomplished as any team competing to be the ‘best of the rest’ beyond the top four. Moyes will have another of his former clubs, Manchester United, looking anxiously over their shoulder as they moved level on points with them courtesy of Angelo Ogbonna’s 74th minute header.
Here was the latest impressive win against a perceived rival for the European places, the Londoners looking slick in possession, a powerful unit through their spine, and towering over opponents in both penalty areas ensuring a set-piece winner was no surprise.
True, Everton were stricken by the absence of their injured strikers Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin – and they will argue whether the corner leading to Ogbonna’s winner was valid – but for prolonged periods West Ham proved themselves at a far more advanced stage of their development, validating Moyes’ reticence to open the door for an emotional Goodison return last summer.
That sliding doors moment may have been on Moyes’ mind when he offered a broad smile upon approaching Rafa Benitez pre-match, his knowing look seeming to say, ‘fancy meeting you here?’
There was a time each would swear blind to possessing only the bluest and most crimson red blood when facing off in those ill-tempered Merseyside derbies a decade ago. In the cut-throat football business, club loyalty must be as fluid as each of these distinguished coaches’ tactical formations.
Moyes might have been reinstated as Everton manager by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri on a number of occasions since his 2013 exit.
That idea was met with some fans’ objections, among them being a reluctance to return to an era in which Everton were seen as always punching above their weight when trying to eke out results against sides rivalling them for a top position.
That background guaranteed an irony alert during much of the afternoon at Goodison, namely, in those periods in which Moyes’ side was more dominant on the ball and flexible in their movement, the home side unable to escape its own half in a one-sided opening. Too often, Benitez’s side was reduced to going long, high and hopeful to ease pressure. It is a backhanded compliment to say this is the first time since his appointment the limitations of Benitez’s squad were exposed. He will have been observing the pace and power in the West Ham line-up with envy.
West Ham’s initial problem was the lack of reward for the enterprising start. Everton were bound to improve and gradually worked their way into the match thanks to the excellence of Abdoulaye Doucoure, who helped Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend ease their team further upfield. When this trio play more regularly with the absentee forwards, Everton will be more potent.
For all West Ham’s control, Everton had their chances, Doucoure striking over from the edge of the penalty area to wake up the crowd, and Gray breezing past Ogbonna on the right and crossing where he hoped Alex Iwobi would be more alert. Iwobi miskicked from six yards, summarising his overall contribution.
The Hammers’ best chances came when the game was more balanced. Jarrod Bowen forced Pickford into his first save on 34 minutes. Tomas Soucek tapped in the rebound but was offside.
Then Pablo Fornals had time to pick his spot just before the interval, but was inches wide, to make it a half-time of regret for the visitors.
Benitez’s message demanding more from his player at the interval had an impact, Everton front-footed in the early stages of the second half when Iwobi and Salomon Rondon went close.
But West Ham had the reward they had ultimately merited when Bowen’s corner was met by Ogbonna, leaving Everton to argue the set-piece should not have been awarded. Pickford felt he was impeded by Michael Antonio when challenged for a looping clearance by Ben Godfrey.
On the balance of play, it was straw-clutching. Any thoughts that West Ham’s improvement last season was a freak of lockdown football can be cast aside. They look even better.
Everton will improve when players return, and this must be seen as a bump in the road after an encouraging start to Benitez’s reign. For now, Moshiri can only admire Moyes’ work and wonder what might have been during those days when he preferred Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti.
FT: Everton 0 West Ham 1
Not a game full of chances, but West Ham were by far the more fluent and cohesive with the ball. It took a set-piece to find the breakthrough but it is a deserved three points for David Moyes back at Goodison Park. Everton’s unbeaten home record comes to an end, they need Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison back urgently.
West Ham had a chance through Antonio in one box but it was blocked, Everton counter and win a corner! Godfrey throws himself at it, but cannot keep the header down. All over.
Everton are in the West Ham half and they swing a ball in from the left, but Coleman cannot make anything of the header at the back post. That should be that. Bowen off, Yarmolenko on for West Ham.
90 minutes – four minutes added time
That may have been the last Everton chance! Coleman’s cross came to Gray and his shot was heading for the far corner but Ogbonna got a potentially match-saving block in.
Brilliant save from Pickford to deny Bowen. The West Ham man tried to curl one into the far corner, and Pickford tipped it around the post at full stretch. That would have been game over.
West Ham change: Lanzini on for Benrahma. Have Everton got one last hurrah in them? Rondon is looking very tired up front.
Digne heads Cresswell’s cross behind for a West Ham corner, the ball is down the right end of the pitch as far as they are concerned. Pinball in the Everton box but Ogbonna’s shot deflects behind for another corner.
Excellent from Rice to play out of a tight spot near the touchline, great composure and always playing with his head up. The best player on the pitch today. West Ham killing the game with some possession now, exactly what you want a goal up.
Rondon wins Everton a corner. Godfrey met the delivery on the volley, but it was always going to be a hard one to keep down with his instep and over the bar it goes. West Ham inching closer to a big win.
The Everton fans urging their team on, there is a better tempo to the contest now. Gordon replaces Alex Iwobi who has had a rough day at the office. West Ham have brought Dawson on for Soucek, so that’s another body to help them deal with crosses.
West Ham coming forward again and Benrahma’s shot is blocked. The visitors have been the better side in general play, but there were starting to look a little blunt in the final third before that breakthrough.
Everton on the attack themselves, Townsend’s cross hits the shins of a defender. Everton corner.
Soucek’s mouth is bloodied and he is receiving some treatment after the studs of Rondon caught him in the face when he was on the floor. Everyone agrees it was accidental. Anthony Gordon is coming on for Everton.
GOOOOAAAAALLL! West Ham have the lead
Excellent delivery and it’s another set piece goal from West Ham. An inswinger from Cresswell and Ogbonna got in front of Godfrey at the near post and the glancing header flew past Pickford.
Iwobi battling with Ogbonna down the right and he does well to hold the ball up. Townsend’s cross finds the head of Rondon but there is no power on the header and Fabianski claims.
Then down the other end, Godfrey hacks a cross into the sky and Antonio wins the aerial challenge with Pickford. Almost dropped into the net, but it is a West Ham corner.
West Ham slowly getting on top again, but Rice overruns the ball and gives Iwobi the chance to make a tackle. Some concern now for West Ham with Michail Antonio down, Keane just caught him on the foot.
Passes going astray from both teams, the contest has got very bitty. Antonio almost injected some quality there though, driving into the box and seeing his shot blocked by Michael Keane. It was a nice reverse pass from Benrahma to put Antonio in the position.
Benrahma with a flashy piece of skill to beat Coleman but the cross was a little too high for Soucek. Neither side has a stack of attacking options on the bench, so it could be the case that first goal wins.
Everton with a corner, but Allan and Godfrey get in each other’s way and both looked to shoot. The Iwobi smashes a volley across the face of goal, but it never looked likely to test Fabianski. Just one shot on target apiece and we are now past the hour mark.
West Ham are not finding it as easy to enjoy long periods of possession in this half. Townsend clips Cresswell on halfway, and West Ham win the foul. The game has slipped into a lull now, not great quality on show for either side.
Coleman dances inside but he blazes over with his left foot. Rice does well to win a loose ball in midfield after Antonio competed for a long ball, and West Ham have another corner.
Everton break through Doucoure but Townsend telegraphed his pass and Rice read it to intercept. He was trying to square for Gray.
Pickford has to back-peddle a tip Cresswell’s corner behind, it looked for a second like it might be looping for his head into the far corner. West Ham have Antonio, Soucek, Zouma, Rice and Ogbonna in there. Good hands from Pickford to hold on to a Fornals ball into the box.
This time Rondon goes close for Everton. Townsend cuts inside on his left and curls a cross to the back post and the ball bounces off Rondon’s head and wide. Much better from the home team.
West Ham trying to return their early rhythm in possession. Everton doing a better job of getting amongst them though, and that was another good attack down their left. Digne drives down the flank and picks out Iwobi who spins and looks to shoot with his right, but Ogbonna produced a great block.
Demarai Gray with a cracking low cross which fizzes across the six-yard box but Rondon cannot get there. More positive play for Gray, who continues to look Everton’s most likely source of a goal.
Declan Rice has run the game in midfield
The ability to carry the ball is such a valuable commodity in that position.
HT: Everton O West Ham 0
David Moyes’ side much the better in general play, particularly in the first half hour, but Iwobi’s mis-kick on the six-yard line was probably the best chance of the game. Benitez will be happy enough with this scoreline.
1 minute of added time
Zouma’s head meets the corner and West Ham then usher the ball behind for a goal kick.
Another Everton set-piece but they get their timings all wrong and it is easy for Soucek to head Townsend’s in-swinger away. They soon have another attack though, and Doucoure dinks a lovely pass around the corner at the edge of the box and Zouma needs to intervene to hook away from Coleman. Everton corner.
Townsend with another left-footed deliver and Bowen has to head behind with Lucas Digne threatening to sneak in around the back. Everton corner, but it was too close to Fabianski.
Rice leads the West Ham break and he releases the ball to Antonio, but blazes his shot from 25 yards or so miles over.
West Ham’s turn to threaten again with consecutive corners, and both Bowen and Fornals see shots blocked. The the Spanish midfielder receives Johnson’s cross on the left side of the box, uses Cresswell’s overlap to create a yard and he curls a shot wide. Everton just about holding firm.
Gray scuffs a shot from 25 yards, but again one of Everton’s attacking players is receiving the ball in a better position. Iwobi comes into a central area to receive the ball, but West Ham get back behind the ball to defend well.
Everton saved by the offside flag. Benrahma did well to beat Allan and drive towards the box, Bowen tested Pickford with a low shot left-footed and Soucek put the rebound in the roof of the net. The linesman intervenes though and the game stays goalless.
Much better from Everton. Townsend surprises Rice by driving on the outside and gets a right foot cross in but Zouma did enough to ensure Doucoure did not get clean contact on the header and it span wide.
Fornals picks up a yellow card for bringing down Andros Townsend when he looked set to bring Everton away on the counter-attack. Everton worked the ball to Iwobi on the left and his cross was not claimed by Fabianski and Cresswell had to hack away.
West Ham might be a tad frustrated that they haven’t scored or created a really big chance given their comfort level in this game right from kick off.
Then Everton should have scored! Great work again from Gray down the right to drop a shoulder and beat Ogbonna and deliver a low cross, but Iwobi could not connect with the side of his foot six yards out. The near-post run of Rondon may have distracted him but that’s a poor miss.
Diligent defending from Rice who has been very impressive at the start of this game. Goodison is so, so quiet at the moment, it’s like a Sunday church service. At least that involves a couple of hymns…
Everton mustering some pressure but Ogbonna nipped in front of Townsend to win the ball with a high foot and then Allan’s pass goes out of play. West Ham then starting stroking the ball around at the back again.
Alex Iwobi replaced Anthony Gordon for this game, and that looks a questionable selection based on his output in the opening quarter of the match. Good work from Rice to carry the ball forward through midfield, before Pickford palms away Cresswell’s cross which was stood up under his bar.
Everton’s best moment of the game by far as Townsend curls a left-footed cross right the face of goal, but there is no telling touch to it. Then Doucoure smashes over wildly from distance but at least it gets the crowd going. Everton are in need of a good 10 minutes.
West Ham are first to everything, winning all the second balls. Only a matter of time before they score the first goal. Soucek steals possession on the edge of the box but Keane got a toe in before Antonio could shoot. Benrahma lets Everton off the hook with a cross which is way too heavy.
Everton are kicking long into Zouma and Ogbonna, who are one of the best aerial partnerships in the league, and the West Ham centre-backs are winning everything. The former Chelsea defender then sweeps up behind the defence again, looks a really good piece of business. Then Keane commits a foul just beyond halfway.
I thought Antonio had done brilliantly to turn and beat a couple of Everton players, but he is booked for simulation after hitting the deck expecting Michael Keane to stick a leg out. It was a sharp piece of play though from the West Ham striker. More slightly desperate defending after slick West Ham combination play but Benrahma shoots over from just outside the box.
Godfrey forced to come across and clear for a throw after Cresswell clipped a ball in behind. Fornals then whips a cross towards Soucek but Allan had tracked his run. West Ham sustain the attack though, and Pickford claims a chipped ball towards Antonio at the second attempt.
Goodison has gone a little quiet, the home fans do not seem too happy with their passive start.
West Ham threatening again in the Everton box but Bowen fails to pick out a claret shirt with his full-back. Everton struggling to get out of their half, the away side are playing with real authority.
West Ham continue to see most of the ball. Without Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, this might be a game Benitez wants to keep tight and try to pinch with a moment, perhaps a set piece.
Rice finds Bowen well with a line-breaking pass, but Everton get enough bodies back to slow the attack down.
West Ham pressing with three forwards and Bowen wins the ball high. Potential danger for Everton but the ball back to Bowen is too heavy and it bounces off Bowen for a goal kick. Iwobi telegraphs a square pass across midfield and Rice cuts it out. West Ham have a grip of the game, and Cresswell whips a ball across the face of goal.
The players are on their way out
Z-Cars rings around Goodison. The Everton fans must be savouring every game before the stadium move. It will be a sad day when they leave one of the most atmospheric grounds in English football.
Man of the moment
Andros Townsend has been directly involved in eight goals in nine games in all competitions for Everton (5 goals, 3 assists), as many as he had in his final 61 appearances for Crystal Palace (2 goals, 6 assists).
This man has been flourishing
Pablo Fornals arrived from Villarreal with a big reputation but was not an instant success with West Ham, but he is becoming increasingly influential in Moyes’ team.
There is a nice balance to West Ham’s front four with Bowen and Antonio goal threats and Fornals and Benrahma pulling the strings.
The only absence for West Ham…
They are without right-back Vladimir Coufal through injury. Ben Johnson, nephew of Ledley King, has deputised well, and is a natural right-sider despite breaking into the side as a left-back.
Some pre-match facts
- Everton have won more Premier League games (27) and scored more Premier League goals (87) against West Ham than they have vs any other side in the competition.
- West Ham have won two of their last three Premier League away games against Everton (L1), as many as they had in their previous 21 visits to Goodison Park. They’re looking to win consecutive away league games against the Toffees for the first time since March 1930.
- Everton have won all three of their Premier League home games so far this season – they last won each of their first four at Goodison Park in a league campaign back in 1978-79 under Gordon Lee.
- West Ham have lost two of their last three Premier League games (W1), more than they had in their previous nine combined (1). However, away from home West Ham are unbeaten in six Premier League matches (W4 D2), with the Hammers last having a longer such run in the competition back in January 2009 (7 games).
Everton looking a little toothless without their two star forwards
Rondon has looked off the pace in his early appearances, and West Ham have to fancy their chances. Jarrod Bowen and Michail Antonio have the cutting edge this Everton side lack, although Rafael Benitez’s team are the only side in the league with an unbeaten home record.
Anthony Gordon is making a name for himself at Everton
By Chris Bascombe
As he tries to establish himself as part of Rafael Benitez’s Everton revolution, Anthony Gordon can already lay claim to one of the season’s memorable assists. Of sorts.
The 20-year-old did not supply the pass for Andros Townsend’s superb equaliser against Manchester United at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, but he actively encouraged the celebration imitating his boyhood hero Cristiano Ronaldo.
“We had a little conversation on the bus,” says Gordon. “I spoke to Andros asking if he’d do it, and I was thinking to myself that I’d do it if I scored.
“It’s no disrespect to Ronaldo. It is a big respect. Some might take it out of context, but it’s just because Andros said he’s his idol. Andros got his shirt. I was thinking from a week before about ways I could get it, but I was too far away from him.” Did he get a chance to speak to the United legend? “None of that. You would look star-struck,” says Gordon.
“When I was a kid there was always the big debate – Messi or Ronaldo – and I would always argue that Ronaldo was better. Every time there’s a big moment, Ronaldo scores. You can’t replace that. No matter how skilful Messi is, if I was a coach and I had to win one game, I would pick Ronaldo.
“He is the example for me. He was one of the first to look after himself at such a high level and now everyone looks at him and thinks, ‘I’d love to look like that when I’m 36 or 37’.”
For all the deference, while Ronaldo exited the 1-1 draw in a huff, Gordon’s name was chanted loudest in the latter stages – his classy display on his first Premier League start of the season earning a rapturous ovation from the travelling Evertonians.
“The best moment of my life,” says Gordon, who joined Everton as an 11-year-old, shortly before the departure of David Moyes, who brings his West Ham United side to Goodison Park today.
After he excelled at junior level, the Everton fans clamoured for the academy graduate’s senior promotion, the calls reaching such a point where the attacking midfielder appealed to family and friends to tell fans to stop pressuring former manager Carlo Ancelotti.
“The other lads were training better than me so deserved to play,” says Gordon, born and bred a couple of minutes from Goodison Park.
Full team news on the way shortly.