West Brom 0-2 Everton: Howard, Toffees grab season’s first win and clean sheet (video)
Belgian Romelu Lukaku opened his season’s scoring book, and Everton snuffed out an inconsistent West Brom side to pick up their first win of the year.
Tim Howard also grabbed his season’s first clean sheet after Everton struggled to defend early on in the year. Not this time as West Brom threatened at times, mostly at the end of the first half, but weren’t incisive enough to pick up a goal.
Lukaku fired Everton into the lead not even two minutes into the game as Leighton Baines pumped the ball into the box from the left flank. The ball fell to the feet of Jonas Olsson, but his clear went straight to the former Chelsea striker who ripped home a fantastic curling effort past Ben Foster.
Everton held 83% of possession in the opening 15 minutes, but West Brom built themselves into the game as the visitors failed to build on their lead. Chris Brunt was bright, putting a header on net that was saved by Tim Howard in the first 15 minutes, and later he came very close to a stunner with his shot from distance flying just wide left.
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Past the half-hour mark Saidho Berainho looked to put a difficult volley on net but it was blocked by John Stones and flew wide. The ensuing corner found Olsson’s head, but he couldn’t get the attempt on net.
The Blues struggled then to continue their possession dominance and West Brom grabbed the ascendency, but neither side was able to capitalize.
The Baggies finished the first half with seven shots, and actually won the first half possession battle despite the early massive deficit.
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Everton had the first good chance coming out of the break, but it went by the wayside. Romelu Lukaku shot from distance and it forced a save from Ben Foster, who could only deflect the ball as far as Aiden McGeady who blasted his chance from close range well over the bar.
It signaled a building confidence from the Everton side that finished the first half lacking confidence despite holding the lead. They would take advantage, and double their lead through Kevin Mirallas.
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On 66 minutes, Mirallas found space on the touchline and cut inside, and when nobody closed him down, he unleashed a low shot that slid by Ben Foster and snuck through past the near post for Everton’s second, leaving new West Brom manager Alan Irvine baffled.
Roberto Martinez withdrew Romelu Lukaku after the goal for midfielder Leon Osman as the Toffees looked to lock down the game and pick up Howard’s first clean sheet of the season.
The win, the first of the season for Everton, brings them to five points on the year and into the top half of the table, while Sunderland remains on three points on three draws, while they continue to search for their first win of the year.
West Brom: Foster, Wisdom, Pocognoli (Gamboa 77'), Olsson, Dawson, Dorrans, Gardner, Morrison, Brunt (Blanco 70'), Berahino, Ideye (Samaras 70')
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Stones, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas, Naismith, McGeady, Lukaku (Osman 68')
Goals: Lukaku 2', Mirallas 66'