David Moyes engaged the referee, Stuart Attwell, in lengthy conversation on the final whistle, then waved politely to old friends in the directors’ box before striding over to the jubilant West Ham fans in the far corner of Goodison Park. Only when he reached them, and started punching the air in celebration, did we finally see what this victory meant.
Goodison has not provided its former manager with the warmest of returns since he departed eight years ago, revelling in his torturous finale at Manchester United and overlooking his claims for a second go at the job several times since. The sight of Rafael Benítez, a former adversary from many Merseyside derbies, in the home dugout may have provided an added spur. West Ham delivered a result and a performance for their manager to savour. The visitors lacked a cutting edge to accompany their authority but, thanks to Angelo Ogbonna’s late header, claimed the victory their efforts deserved.
Moyes said: “I was annoyed during the game because I thought our play warranted more goals but credit Everton, they blocked a lot of shots, defended their box well and we didn’t show enough in the final third. I always thought it was going to be a tight game.”
“I want the team to challenge, I want the team to play well and give us a victory wherever we go. I think we have a good team.”
Everton were second best for large swathes of a contest that was decided in controversial fashion, with Jordan Pickford claiming he was fouled in the buildup to the corner that yielded Ogbonna’s winner, and sorely missed the injured attacking duo of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. Salomón Rondón and Alex Iwobi, surprisingly selected over Anthony Gordon, toiled in their absence. By contrast Michail Antonio was a thorn in the Everton defence all afternoon, ably supported by Jarrod Bowen, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek again formed a formidable unit in central midfield.
Three successive wins had delivered Everton’s best start at home for 32 years yet they opened sluggishly in comparison to a sharp and confident West Ham. The visitors impressed from the off although struggled to turn control and comfortable possession into clearcut opportunity. Everton took 16 minutes to construct their first attack of note but grew into the game thereafter with Demarai Gray’s pace and trickery a potent outlet.
Gray’s strength also caught the eye when he created the clearest chance of the first half, one that should have produced the breakthrough for Iwobi but instead led to disbelieving groans at a dreadful miss. Racing on to Andros Townsend’s ball, Gray shrugged off Ogbonna before skipping away from the central defender and threading a perfect cross along the face of West Ham’s six-yard box. Iwobi, unmarked and with only Lukasz Fabianski to beat from close range, kicked fresh air instead of a gift of a ball.
Source: The Guardian