West Brom 1 Everton 1 match report: Pepe Mel's switch pegs back Roberto Martinez to deny Everton

Pepe Mel made a series of changes in the second half that helped produce Albion’s equaliser

The Hawthorns

For all their progress under David Moyes, Everton have not been so well placed at this stage of a season for more than three decades and a couple of points dropped away from home is unlikely to dampen the enthusiasm generated by Roberto Martinez. Yet, given that a win last night could have knocked Liverpool out of the Premier League’s top four just in time for next week’s Merseyside derby, this result was undoubtedly a setback.

Everton were well in control in the first half, when Kevin Mirallas provided a lead just before the break that had been threatened more than once, but their wings were clipped in the second half in what became a solid start for Martinez’s compatriot, Pepe Mel, in his first game in charge at The Hawthorns following his appointment as head coach earlier this month.

Mel’s changes of personnel and tactical approach in the second half produced an equaliser that Albion’s resilience merited when Diego Lugano, the Uruguayan defender, headed home his first goal for the club.

Mel had promised that the Albion side looked after so well by Keith Downing since Steve Clarke was sacked would bear his mark from the start and made four changes from the starting XI he watched from the stands at Southampton 10 days ago, although two of those were enforced following the sale of Shane Long to Hull City and an injury to Gareth McAuley.

The significant presence was that of Nicolas Anelka, whose appearance had been in some doubt, it seemed, before shirt sponsor Zoopla pre-empted any row over his inclusion by announcing it would not renew the deal anyway. Given Long’s departure, and doubts over the fitness of Victor Anichebe and Stéphane Sessègnon, both of whom began on the bench, Mel had few options among his strikers, in any event.

The home crowd applauded Anelka’s name, aware perhaps that they might not see him for a while if the FA decides the quenelle gesture that upset Zoopla warrants a lengthy ban, and were equally warm towards Romelu Lukaku, who scored 17 goals for them on loan from Chelsea last season, even though he turned down the chance of another season at The Hawthorns to further his education with Everton.

In McAuley’s absence, it was down to Jonas Olsson to limit Lukaku’s effectiveness as the front-runner in the Everton line-up, although it was the mobility behind him of Mirallas and Bryan Oviedo that had Albion under pressure from the opening exchanges.

 

Twice in the first 12 minutes, Oviedo was inches away from giving Everton the lead, first with an angled right-foot volley that zipped across Ben Foster’s goal, then with a left-foot shot, slightly scuffed, that crept just past the opposite post after he had neatly cut inside his marker.

Albion responded well enough. Anelka, whose precision pass to Matej Vydra on the left had created their first opening for James Morrison, then delivered a dipping shot of his own that did not miss by much.

What Albion could not do, for all that they broke quickly and stretched Everton, was mount any sustained pressure. And Everton, as might be expected on a run of six wins in nine Premier League matches, had no intention of sitting back. James McCarthy tested Foster’s handling, then Mirallas fizzed a shot wide before giving the Merseysiders the lead after 41 minutes.

Lukaku played a key part, winning a header to flick the ball on for his fellow Belgian, whose pace was too much for Diego Lugano and his finish too smart for Foster.

It was a fifth goal of the season for Mirallas, whom Martinez believes is only now reaching his peak at Goodison Park, 18 months after his arrival from Olympiakos. He works well off Lukaku, who has found goals hard to come by over the last few weeks but whose physical strength is a key element in Everton’s method under Martinez.

Given Albion’s poor points return and the slim likelihood of a mid-table position ever feeling comfortable for any of the teams not chasing Europe, Mel does not have the luxury of time as he tries to improve Albion’s prospects. There were some promising signs here, though, in his new team’s movement and organisation, that he can provoke a rapid response.

He replaced Vydra with Anichebe at half-time, and then took off Zoltan Gera in order to restore Youssouf Mulumbu to central midfield, and the second half was notable for fewer Everton chances. Albion might have had an equaliser but for Phil Jagielka’s late intervention to deny Anichebe on the end of a bobbling Anelka cross.

It was encouragement enough for the home side, who had Everton on the back foot for the first time in the match and were worthy of the levelling goal that came in the 75th minute when Lugano, still in a forward position after Everton had repelled a corner but surrendered possession again, arrived at the near post to head home James Morrison’s cross after a good lay-off by Anichebe.

Sylvain Distin almost spoiled Mel’s night with the last action of the match in stoppage time, but after forcing the ball across the line from a free-kick he turned to see the flag correctly raised for offside.

Match facts

WBA: Foster, Reid, Lugano, Olsson, Ridegwell, Yacob, Gera, Morrison, Brunt, Anelka, Vydra

Everton: Howard, Baines, Distin, Jagielka, Coleman, Oviedo, Barry, Osman, McCarthy, Mirallas, Lukaku

Goals. West Bromwich Albion: Lugano 75. Everton: Mirallas 41.

Substitutes: West Brom Anichebe (Vydra, ht); Mulumbu (Gera, 60); Berahino (Anelka, 76).

Everton Stones (Coleman, 79); McGeady (Oviedo, 80); Naismith (Osman, 89)

Booked: West Brom Yacob, Morrison, Ridgewell

Everton Barry, Mirallas.

Possession: WBA 50% Everton 50%

Man of the match Morrison. Rating 7/10

Referee: M Oliver (Northumberland)

 

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin