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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Goodison Park

Toffeemen come unstuck as Ogbonna hits away winner for the Hammers


Goodison Park Photo: Alessandro Schiavone

By Alessandro Schiavone at Goodison Park


Everton 0 West Ham United 1


West Ham’s impressive form on their travels goes on as a 74th minute flicked header by Angelo Ogbonna ended Everton’s hopes of sneaking into the top-four, all while equalling their own record of seven consecutive away wins without defeat in the Premier League.

The Toffees were yet to drop a single point at home this season, having taken nine points from their opening three games but a bravura defensive display from Ogbonna capped off with a sucker punch at the other end was their undoing.

It was the former Italy international's first goal of the campaign and the Hammers have now moved level with today’s opponents and Manchester United in sixth.

Goals were always going to be at a premium between the Toffees and the Hammers as the last two meetings ended both in 1-0 home defeats.

And it took the Hammers 74 minutes and, more importantly, a resolute defensive display to stun Rafael Benitez’s side, who paid the price for a lack of cutting edge in front of goal. The returns from injury of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison are what they need.

In the early stages, West Ham committed numbers forward, looking to hit the ground running but they were restricted to long-range efforts by Everton’s stubborn backline.

And after 11 minutes, the Hammers nearly raced into an early lead but the increasingly influential Said Benrahma drove a half-volley over the crossbar following Ben Godfrey’s clearance. The Algerian international did not hit his shot as cleanly as he would have liked as the Hammers aimed to lay down an early marker.

But six minutes later Everton responded through former Watford star Abdoulaye Doucoure but the Frenchman didn’t fare any better than his counterpart and blazed his effort over.

From that moment on Everton did everything but score. The Toffees repeatedly made inroads into the box but lacked end product and conviction as a number of opportunities went begging.

After an incisive attack, Demarai Gray superbly skipped past Ogbonna before cutting the ball back for Alex Iwobi, who despite having all the time in the world, completely missed to convert an easy tap-in. These schoolboy errors came back to haunt Everton eventually.

Minutes later, Doucoure headed wide from Andros Townsend’s immaculate delivery before Tomas Soucek had a goal disallowed for offside at the other end.

With his back to goal, Soucek laid the ball off to Jarrod Bowen who drew a spectacular save from Pickford. The Englishman could not hold his shot and allowed the rebound to fall to Soucek's feet but the Czech star was offside.

Minutes later, West Ham had another chance to snatch the lead but Pablo Fornals’s delicate curled finish went a fraction wide of Pickford’s goal.

West Ham grew in confidence but Michail Antonio sent another effort over the crossbar from outside the box after a quick counter-attack from Declan Rice.

On their return from the dressing room, Everton aimed to stamp their authority on proceedings and weighed things up. The Toffees moved the ball a lot quicker and it looked like the Hammers would trail before they knew it. Former Palace winger Townsend was comfortable on the ball, demanding it in dangerous areas and trying to make things happen. But not even he could work any wonders as Iwobi and Salomon Rondon looked toothless and helpless in front of goal.

And the wasteful Iwobi reappeared. The former Arsenal flop had another golden chance to put his side ahead but saw his shot blocked from close range after overthinking things.

The imperious Ogbonna came to the rescue with a sliding intervention to deny him and Everton a deserved lead.

Minutes later, Rondon’s flicked header from Townsend’s cross flashed wide before Coleman’s left-footed effort after cutting inside completely missed the target.

Everton kept missing chance after chance. And Townsend, galvanised by meeting and outscoring his idol Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, offered a great delivery to Rondon who again could not make the most of it.

And after successfully weathering the storm, West Ham found a way through in a game that bore a striking resemblance to their New Year’s Day win here.

Same ground, same opponent, same game plan. Just a different goalscorer as Soucek is replaced by Ogbonna on the scoresheet.

After making an important intervention from Iwobi’s shot in the 48th minute, the Hammers stalwart put his side in front with a flicked header. No one picked him up from a corner and the former Juventus man rose majestically to get in ahead of Pickford and break Toffees hearts.

Everton had been by far the dominant side in the second period and did not deserve to trail. After going behind, they pushed for an equaliser but West Ham are a tough nut to crack on the road.

Instead of sitting on their lead, the East Londoners almost increased the lead but England goalkeeper Pickford pulled off an outstanding fingertip save from Bowen’s curler.

Three points, a clean sheet and back to a familiar league position. The Hammers have plenty of reasons to cheer as they gear up for Genk on Thursday, in a bid to win and make a huge step towards qualification for the next round in the Europa League. That too, would epitomise their development and how far they have come under Moyes.

Everton

1 Jordan Pickford- 5 Michael Keane- 6 Allan- 11 Demarai Gray- 12 Lucas Digne -14 Andros Townsend – 16 Abdoulaye Doucoure-17 Ale

x Iwobi- 22 Ben Godfrey- 23 Seamus Coleman- 33 Solomon Rondon

West Ham United

1 Lukasz Fabianski- 3 Aaron Cresswell- 4 Kurt Zouma- 8 Pablo Fornals- 9 Michail Antonio- 20 Jarrod Bowen- 21 2xAngelo Ogbonna 22 Said Benrahma- 28 Tomas Soucek- 31 Ben Johnson- 41 Declan Rice


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