Asked whether this first victory since September brought to mind the Everton of the last two seasons, in both of which they went on to finish fifth, David Moyes shook his head dismissively.
"The team of the last two seasons played good football and was good to watch," said the Everton manager. "Now had you said the team of four seasons ago, which was resilient and hard to beat, I'd have agreed. At the moment we're lacking that bit of quality. But the key is to find a winning formula, and today we found one."
Given it amounted to working hard, taking their chances and being lucky, it was not complicated. For 25 minutes the game had drifted, a non-event during which there was time to ponder a conundrum such as how it can be possible for a one-paced lummox like Marouane Fellaini to earn a fortune in the Premier League. In the 27th minute, however, all became clear when out of nothing an attempted clearance by Matthew Upson hit the statuesque Belgian, and the alert Tim Cahill laid the ball off for Louis Saha to shoot sweetly beyond West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green from 20 yards. Even then West Ham struggled to respond, and Gianfranco Zola, as he had to, made changes, bringing on Junior Stanislas at the start of the second half, and Alessandro Diamanti soon afterwards. The improvement in pace and purpose was immediately apparent, and Everton's second, scored shortly after the hour was very much against the run of play.
Again Cahill was involved, making a nuisance of himself on the edge of the West Ham penalty area to such effect that the ball fell for Yakubu, who in turn picked out Dan Gosling coming in on the angle. The teenager's first effort was blocked by Green, but there was no stopping him driving home the rebound.
That seemed to be that, only for West Ham to get back into the game immediately and extraordinarily. Diamanti's lofted pass put Stanislas clear, and the substitute lifted the ball over Tim Howard as the goalkeeper came out to narrow the angle, but Tony Hibbert seemed certain to clear before the ball crossed the line. The Everton full-back actually looked up to see where he was going to boot the ball, before somehow contriving to shin it into the roof of the net.
Handed a lifeline, West Ham did their best to haul themselves out of trouble, putting Everton under huge pressure. They created chances, too, but just about every one fell to Zavon Hines, and one way or another the England Under-21 international missed the lot. In the 75th minute he was put clear twice, initially by Scott Parker and then by Diamanti; the first he poked past the post, the second he failed to strike with any sort of conviction. Zola was bemused.
"How did we lose a game like that? It's very difficult to comment when we had so many chances, and they had only two," sighed the Italian.
Unlike most observers, he felt his team had actually begun well, but acknowledged that dropping back into the bottom three was "not very pleasant".
Whether he will be able to strengthen his squad during the transfer window is becoming more pertinent with every passing day, and that will almost certainly depend on the club finding a new owner. If not, he may be required to sell to reduce debt. Green and Upson, West Ham's most valuable assets, may be first out of the door.
West Ham (4-3-2-1): Green; Faubert, Da Costa, Upson, Spector; Parker, Behrami, Jimenez (Diamanti, 57); Collison (Stanislas, h-t), Franco; Hines. Substitutes not used: Kurucz (gk), Tomkins, Daprela, Kovac, Noble.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Hibbert, Yobo, Distin, Baines; Heitinga, Gosling (Neill, 76), Fellaini, Rodwell; Cahill; Saha (Yakubu, 57). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Coleman, Wallace, Agard, Baxter.
Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire)
Booked: Everton Rodwell, Hibbert, Fellaini, Heitinga, Yobo.
Man of the match: Yobo.
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