The lure of nine active Englishmen had drawn Roy Hodgson to the East End but while there was much for the national manager to savour in the performances of Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines and Ravel Morrison it was a Belgian who stole the show and settled this match.
Romelu Lukaku has been deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge but Roberto Martinez, that high-priest of the passing game, cannot hide his glee at borrowing the towering front man from Jose Mourinho. “He will be such a big asset for us,” said the Everton manager after Lukaku marked his debut with an 84th-minute winner that completed Blues' comeback. They are now the division's only unbeaten team.
Everton had trailed 1-0 at half-time and 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining, Morrison's first West Ham goal and Mark Noble, from the spot, having twice put West Ham ahead. Then Noble, already booked, somewhat harshly, for pulling back Kevin Mirallas, set off in pursuit of Barkley. England's newest international had been a growing influence with his midfield breaks, one had already prompted Everton's first equaliser when Baines despatched a free-kick awarded when James Collins brought him down. Noble argued, with some justice, he made some contact with the ball before felling Barkley but Lee Mason showed a second yellow. Baines, from an near-identical position, clipped his free-kick into the opposite corner off the post. Jussi Jaaskelainen could only stand and admire.
“Leighton can put the ball wherever he wants,” said Martinez. “I've never seen anyone do that twice from the same place against the same goalkeeper in different corners.” Old Evertonians had: Kevin Sheedy, v Ipswich, 1984 FA Cup quarter-final, except on that occasion the first was disallowed and the second was his re-take.
“Right up to Noble getting sent off I thought the players were great,”said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. “They are a good side and we matched them. We found a difference in Everton when Lukaku came on, it was more difficult for us to cope with, but we contained them really well until Baines' put the ball in the back of the net. When we went ahead I thought we would see it out, but the sending off changed the game. Mark played the ball.”
While West Ham were without Joe Cole and Stewart Downing as well as Andy Carroll Everton's growing depth was illustrated by a bench that included World Cup finalist John Heitinga, £15m James McCarthy, and highly-rated loanees – from Barcelona and Chelsea respectively – Gerard Delofeu and Lukaku.
The latter was there because Martinez made the mistake of following the old tenet 'never change a winning team', forgetting that Chelsea should won last week's game before Everton scored. Thus Nikica Jelavic and Stephen Naismith started.
A soporific first half ensued, brightened only by Morrison's goal. It took a heavy deflection off Phil Jagielka but was reward for a tidy, if unspectacular performance by the youngster. At the break Martinez introduced Lukaku and McCarthy. The latter added drive in midfield while Lukaku's impact was akin to a man realising, mid-meal, he needed to put his teeth in. Suddenly Everton had bite. Winston Reid played him very well, but his team-mates did not. It was no surprise when Everton levelled, but it was when West Ham regained their lead. Mladen Petric, given a debut off the bench, forged a counter-attack that led to Kevin Nolan outfoxing McCarthy before falling over his leg. Like Noble's later dismissal, it fell into the 'seen them given, often' category.
Noble tucked the kick away and West Ham seemed set for their first win since the opening day, but six minutes later they were level and a man down. Everton took ruthless advantage, Lukaku heading in the winner from a clever Mirallas cross. He was knocked out in doing so but it was West Ham who were out for the count.
West Ham (4-1-4-1): Jaaskelainen; Rat, Collins, Reid, O'Brien; Noble; Diame, Morrison, Nolan (Taylor, 80), Jarvis (Vaz Te, 71); Maiga (Petric, 61).
Substitutes not used: McCartney, Collison, Tomkins, Adrian (gk).
Everton (4-2-3-1): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Osman (Oviedo, 52), Barry; Naismith (McCarthy, h/t), Barkley; Mirallas; Jelavic (Lukaku, h/t).
Substitutes not used: Robles, Heitinga, Delofeu, Stones.
Referee: L Mason
Match rating: 7
Man of the match: Barkley
Hammers fans warned ahead of Spur clash
West Ham have told their supporters a repeat of last season's anti-Semetic chants will not be tolerated when the club visit White Hart Lane next month. Last season's Spurs-West Ham match was marred by anti-Semetic sounds, chants and gestures from the visiting support. The request, in yesterday's match programme, warned fans guilty of such behaviour will be banned.
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