A Fan's View: Everton 2 Albion 1
Joseph Chapman gives his verdict on Albion's defeat
A spirited second half showing was not enough to earn Albion a point after Leighton Baines put the game out of reach with a first half brace. Shane Long scored for the second game running against Everton, but it proved only a consolation.
Phil Jagielka filled in at right back to allow Johnny Heitinga to partner Sylvain Distin in the centre of defence for Everton. Victor Anichebe started up front, while there were places for Kevin Mirallas and Darren Gibson in the matchday squad for the hosts.
George Thorne returned to the starting line-up for Albion, and there was also a start for Goran Popov at left back. Marc-Antoine Fortune, Shane Long and Claudio Yacob all made the bench.
Right from the off, Albion were under pressure. Popov dealt with a corner that Jones failed to, and an incredible deflection off Anichebe nearly had Foster in trouble.
The Baggies resorted to their favoured counter attacking style, and it bore fruit when Lukaku's pull back found Dorrans, whose threatening shot was blocked.
Marouane Fellaini nearly opened the scoring on 19. After Anichebe won a header, the big Belgian turned skillfully away from McAuley and rattled the post.
The away side's style of play was being blunted, and Lukaku was found offside too many times to offer any threat. The Baggies were to pay the price soon after.
Receiving the ball from Neville, Leighton Baines carried the ball a distance and, after Jones and McAuley failed to close down the ball, Baines punished Albion by unleashing a stinging shot which Foster's hand could not keep out.
The Toffees continued to look dangerous on the wings, especially down the left where Baines and Pienaar continued to combine. The visitors were becoming predictable when they went forward.
There was a worrying moment before half time when Thorne fell awkwardly, and on second viewing it seemed that he twisted his knee in a 50/50 with Osman. The youngster was to require a stretcher and received a warm applause as Claudio Yacob replaced him.
The Argentinean was to be at fault for Everton's second. The midfielder nonchalantly tripped Anichebe in the area in stoppage time and Baines netted his second from the spot with a neatly placed finish in the corner.
After the break
The second period started brighter for the Baggies without any real sign of pulling a much needed goal back.
Mirallas, who many were surprised to see start the match, tested Foster from range before the hour. The goalkeeper palmed the shot away without any further trouble.
One sensed that Albion had given themselves too much to do, but that didn't deter their desire to leave Goodison Park with a result. Clarke introduced Shane Long for James Morrison, and in doing so reverted to a 4-4-2 formation.
The change only took a couple of minutes to produce a result. Chris Brunt found Lukaku with an excellent pass and, sensing the on rushing Howard, rounded the keeper and centred the ball. There shouldn't have been a problem for Heitinga to clear, but the cross was flicked up in the air by the Dutchman, and Long was on hand to head home into the empty net, and reduce the arrears.
This gave the away side some confidence and all of a sudden Everton, who had been so dominant and comfortable for the majority of the match, suddenly felt pressure.
Moments later, Graham Dorrans smashed the crossbar with a brilliant, curling free kick, but the hosts continued to look to kill the game off up the other end. Osman cut in from the right and blazed just over from 20 yards.
Foster denied Pienaar from a free kick and seconds later the South African hit the post, but Osman somehow failed to convert the rebound from close range. Jelavic was introduced late on to see the game out, but if the second half was anything to go by, the Baggies (plus Mulumbu) will give Tottenham a good game on Sunday.
Match ratings: EVE- Howard 7, Jagielka 7, Heitinga 6, Distin 7, Baines 9, Neville 7, Osman 7, Pienaar 7, Mirallas 6, Fellaini 8, Anichebe 7 (Jelavic 5).
WBA- Foster 7, Jones 6, McAuley 6, Olsson 6, Popov 7, Brunt 7, Thorne 5 (Yacob 6), Dorrans 6, Thomas 7 (Rosenberg 5), Morrison 6 (Long 6), Lukaku 6.
Have your say on Albion's defeat here at Baggies Banter.
Source: WBA MAD
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