Saha keeps Everton's foot down on road to final

West Ham United 1 Everton 3

Hand in hand with the consistency underlined by what is now certain to be their third successive top-six finish, Everton are acquiring a ruthlessness that further distinguishes them from the Premier League mainstream.

Here was an afternoon on which more easily distracted teams might have squandered points. Their response to the shock of falling behind against the run of play, though, was to regroup and deliver a convincing performance that carried them to the 60-point mark. Far from easing up in preparation for the FA Cup final, Everton used the League's penultimate weekend to climb to fifth for the first time. Their manager, David Moyes, called for single-mindedness and got it amid any number of personal contributions that will give Chelsea food for thought.

Somewhat less convincingly, Moyes still hinted after Louis Saha's two-goal comeback to the starting line-up that the Frenchman's best impact might be from the bench. But he confirmed that Jack Rodwell will feature in his Wembley deliberations and praised Steven Pienaar, who made the last two goals as Everton hit back for the second time in 2008-09 to beat West Ham 3-1.

"I have a clear idea what my side will be," Moyes said. "Louis gives us another option, whether or not we decide to start with him, Steven has really kicked on by taking Mikel Arteta's mantle and I would have no qualms about putting Jack Rodwell in. He may play in the final."

True, after Radoslav Kovac's stunning goal, Everton benefited from a West Ham double whammy – the sending-off of James Tomkins for a trip on Tim Cahill, following which Saha (left) equalised from a penalty. A performance that was already hitting heights then brought Joseph Yobo's first goal of the season and Saha's tap-in for the killer blow put an accurate reflection on the scoreline. At the end of a season of injury misery, the striker said: "At least I'll be fresh for Wembley."

Pleasing though some of West Ham's own cameos were in an invigorating game, they fell short of their targets. European qualification is now beyond them, although their manager Gianfranco Zola proclaimed boldly: "I'm absolutely positive we will be much better next season."

Everton's next step is a trophy or top-four finish. The table exposes the gap they still have to bridge but their results bear out the fact they can now land a glove on any side.

They have drawn with Manchester United and beaten them in an FA Cup semi-final shoot-out, drawn twice with Chelsea, knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup as well as taken a point there and seen Arsenal escape from Goodison with a point only via a last-gasp equaliser. They will expect to worry Chelsea on Saturday week.

Everton (4-4-2): Howard; Jacobsen, Yobo, Lescott, Baines; Osman, Neville, Cahill (Jo, 80), Pienaar; Fellaini (Rodwell, 69), Saha (Vaughan, 80). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Castillo, Gosling.

West Ham United (4-2-3-1): Green; Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilonga; Kovac (Stanislas, 68), Noble; Boa Morte, Di Michele (Spector, h-t), Collison; Tristan (Cole, h-t). Substitutes not used: Lopez, Nsereko, Kurucz (gk), Payne.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Everton Baines; West Ham Spector, Boa Morte.

Sent off: Tomkins (37).

Man of the match: Pienaar.

Attendance: 38,501.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable