West Ham United won their first game in three as Tomas Soucek was the hero once again for the Hammers, defeating Everton in a game that didn’t really get started.
In a very dull first half, neither side created a real chance to test the goalkeepers. Darren Randolph was asked to step in last minute as Lukasz Fabianski was injured in the warm-up. However, the Irishman was rarely called upon within the game as Toffees’ front man, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, could not find the space to get on the ball.
The second half started the same the first ended. A lacklustre opening made it seem it was only going to take one special moment for a side to take the three points away from Goodison Park. Into the 86th minute, Soucek found himself on the end of a deflected shot to tap the ball in, sending West Ham back to East London with three big points.
Story of the match
James Rodriguez was expected to remain out of the Everton matchday squad, but he found himself on the bench for the first time since early December. The creative midfielder was looking for his first minutes after recovering from a calf injury.
The first chance arrived in the 8th minute. Pablo Fornals and Aaron Cresswell combined well before a cross was met by Jarrod Bowen’s head, however, Jordan Pickford collected the ball calmly.
Midway through the first half, once again, Cresswell attempted to put the ball on a plate for Bowen. Though, the ball flashed past the face of goal at some speed and the winger could not get there in time to place the ball in the back of the net.
On the stroke of halftime, a clearance by Haller was met by a sweet connection of Bernard’s right boot. The Toffee volleyed the ball back towards goal, but Randolph did well to parry the ball away.
The second half got underway with the hosts on the front foot. The Hammers had to show their fitness levels in their sixth half of football in five days.
Nonetheless, the first real opportunity of the half fell to West Ham. Even though Everton had the majority of possession, a spin by Declan Rice, followed by a great low delivery into the box, saw Haller unable to pounce on the golden chance as the ball flashed past the goal again!
David Moyes made three substitutions within ten minutes that changed the dynamic of the game. Haller, Fornals and Bowen made way for Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini and Andriy Yarmolenko, respectively.
In a very long game that contained no real excitement; the last chance define the outcome. Soucek brought the ball down inside the box and drove the ball towards goal. Pickford pushed the ball away as it rolled to Cresswell, who shoots on the edge of the 18-yard-box, taking a deflection on the way. Soucek pounced on the ball and brought all three points back to East London.
In a game that was destined for a draw, West Ham finished on the upper hand as Everton lacked the desire and the final touch which they have shown all season.
Lack of Energy
The busy festive season has no doubt affected the players fitness level, as both teams failed to get started in the third game within a week. The slow build up, with both sides seeming to play for possession, was the only way the fitness levels could have lasted another 90 minutes.
Everton held the majority of the possession, but an attacking second half performance by West Ham saw the visitors have more opportunities.
Both sides defended superbly and the two sets of defenders deserved their clean sheets. Though it is the Hammers who pushed at either end.
Man of the Match
Angelo Ogbonna deserves the Man of the Match trophy after leading from example in the backline. Not putting a foot wrong once, the Italian won every header and was a main figure for West Ham to claim the three points.