West Ham United 1 Everton 2: Yakubu's sweet strike helps Toffees to crack Hammers
The last game of the Eggert Magnusson regime at West Ham ended last night with a moment that would have provoked that familiar, Edvard Munch's The Scream-like pose, for the Icelander. A terrible mix-up between Robert Green and Danny Gabbidon in the dying minutes handed victory to Everton, which allowed them to progress into the last four of the League Cup for the first time in almost 20 years.
Magnusson had dreamt of bringing glory and trophies to the Hammers and if they eventually do come it will be without him. He has now gone and may have been relieved to miss the moment when Gabbidon, back-pedalling to reach a long punt, headed through Green's hands. That allowed Ayegbeni Yakubu to poke the ball gleefully into the unguarded net for his 11th goal of the season and confirm that Everton's unbeaten run of matches had also extended to 11.
"Feed the Yak and he will score," sang the visiting fans. For West Ham there simply wasn't enough "Yaketty-yak" from their two players.
The West Ham manager, Alan Curbishley, felt the blame lay elsewhere, claiming that the referee, Mark Halsey, had a "torrid game", failing to pick up on fouls, including one in the build-up to the winning goal. "I was very disappointed with his performance," Curbishley complained but that verdict really belonged to Freddie Ljungberg, who had the kind of forgettable match that will make West Ham wince at his eye-watering wages.
The Swede is edging himself back to fitness, as is Dean Ashton, but both were risked here because of what was at stake. West Ham held the early ascendancy, confirmed when Carlton Cole scored, taking advantage of leaden defending by Joseph Yobo to reach Lucas Neill's long ball forward and easily round a startled Tim Howard. They should have pushed on but did not, another indictment of Curbishley's conservatism.
Instead, Everton carved out opportunities with Neill, twice, escaping penalty appeals from Steven Pienaar while Green was fortunate when he pushed out a cross from the South African, straight through Tim Cahill's legs. But Pienaar would not be denied. He cleverly created space from Lee Carsley's pass and squared for Leon Osman to sweep in the equaliser.
Twice Yakubu almost broke through before he finally did as extra time loomed. "We are not getting carried away," said Moyes, mindful that Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are still in the frame. "They were the better side," admitted Curbishley, even if they needed that late gift to secure victory.
West Ham United (4-4-2): Green; Neill, Gabbidon, Upson, McCartney; Ljungberg, Mullins, Parker, Boa Morte (Reid, 67); Cole (Pantsil, 76), Ashton. Substitutes not used: Wright (gk), Noble, Spector.
Everton (4-1-4-1): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott; Carsley; Arteta, Cahill, Osman, Pienaar; Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Wessels (gk), Hibbert, Johnson, Gravesen, Anichebe.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
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