West Brom 1-1 Everton : Match Report
A Diego Lugano header in the second-half ensured a promising start to new head coach Pepe Mel's Baggies reign and thwarted Everton from moving into the top four.
Kevin Mirallas's well-taken finish just before the interval put Everton on course for a victory which would see the move above Tottenham and Liverpool into the top four, only to be cancelled out by an excellent Lugano stooping header.
While Mel will consider it a good point, given the circumstance of trailing with a limited amount of time to go, it will not be as gratifying to Toffees manager Roberto Martinez, after his side produced a lacklustre and uninspiring display in the second-half.
With Martinez announcing that Everton had beaten West Ham to the signature of Monaco forward Lacina Traore, it could come as welcome boost for the Merseysiders following Romelu Lukaku's recent goal drought. The Belgian international has not scored since late December in the win over Southampton, thick evidence of his recent complacency and evident reduction of motivation and hunger, attributes he previously thrived on.
Despite securing a heart-warming point, it was a mixed evening for West Brom. While Albion sponsors Zoopla declared their withdrawal of a sponsorship worth three million after Mel had defied threats from the property search company through his selection of under-fire striker Nicolas Anelka, the Baggies served up an auspicious performance in front of their home crowd to kick-start a new era under the Spaniard's stewardship. Zoopla declared the consummation of their sponsorship after Anelka performed a gesture known in French society as "la quenelle". Anelka, 34, made the sign, described as an inverted Nazi salute and declared by some to be anti-Semitic, after scoring against West Ham on 28 December, 2013.
As five imperative, monumental fixtures loom for Everton, packed with trips to Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea, we will see if the Toffees are made out of real Champions League material.
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