Ronald Koeman secured his first victory as Everton manager as his side came from a goal behind to claim a 2-1 Premier League victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Everton had to come from two goals down to win 3-2 in the corresponding fixture last season, and they were made to fight for the points once again on Saturday.
The visitors found themselves behind early on thanks to a Gareth McAuley header, with Kevin Mirallas restoring parity just prior to the interval.
And the comeback was complete when, on the hour mark, Gareth Barry headed in after Tony Pulis’ side failed to clear from a corner – with Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku both squandering gilt-edged chances late on.
Fortunately for the visitors, the misses mattered little as, despite withstanding a late glut of West Brom pressure, Everton held firm to secure the spoils.
Everton looked sharp from the off, and should have been awarded a penalty when Barkley – who gave Koeman’s side an early lead against Tottenham last time out – was brought down by Claudio Yacob.
Another Everton player in fine form last week was goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, and the Dutchman did brilliantly to prevent Salomon Rondon netting his second goal of the campaign after the Venezuela forward outmuscled Ramiro Funes Mori.
However, Stekelenburg was helpless to prevent the hosts taking the lead from the resulting corner, with McAuley on hand to power home a header at the back post – although the visitors were adamant there had been a foul on their keeper as the cross came in.
Everton did manage to open up the hosts midway through the first half, but Barry could only direct a tame effort straight at Ben Foster.
With Everton looking increasingly blunt in attack, Koeman elected to make a change prior to half-time with Lukaku, having recovered from an ankle injury, replacing James McCarthy.
And that change had the desired effect as, on the stroke of half-time, Barkley and Mirallas combined to carve open West Brom’s defence – the latter drilling home a low finish to level proceedings.
Stekelenburg was at the top of his game again to deny Darren Fletcher shortly after the restart, before Foster did well at the other end to prevent Gerard Deulofeu netting from close-range.
Funes Mori thought he had given Everton the lead just prior to the hour, but Foster was well-placed to tip the defender’s header over the crossbar.
And the visitors made their hosts pay from the following corner, Barry stealing in to get on the end of Mason Holgate’s miscued volley – the midfielder’s first goal since January 2014.
Yannick Bolasie, who featured in Crystal Palace’s opening day defeat to West Brom, came on to make his Everton debut soon after, and twice the 27-year-old posed a threat as he set up both Barkley and Lukaku, but neither could finish off their respective chances as West Brom’s winless streak at home was extended to five matches.
Key Opta stats:
– West Brom have gone five home games without a win in the Premier League (D1 L4) for the first time since December 2014.
– Everton have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight away games in the league.
– Since the start of the 2012-13 season, no defender has scored more Premier League headed goals than Gareth McAuley (8, along with John Terry).
– Kevin Mirallas has scored three goals in his last five PL games; as many as in his previous 25 beforehand.
– Mirallas has also now scored in each of his last three Premier League games at the Hawthorns.
– Gareth Barry scored his first away goal in the Premier League since August 2011 (for Manchester City against Bolton).
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