86' Tomas Soucek
|20||Bernard Anício Caldeira Duarte|
|7||Richarlison de Andrade|
|21||André Filipe Tavares Gomes|
Everton 0-1 West Ham United
Tomáš Souček’s struck late to give West Ham United the perfect start to 2021 at Everton on Friday night.
The Czech Republic midfielder finished from close range, reacting quickest inside the box to knock home after an Aaron Cresswell shot deflected to him, and with just four minutes remaining, Everton had no time to respond.
It was another outstanding defensive effort from the Hammers, who, led by the imperious Angelo Ogbonna and Craig Dawson at centre-half, prevented Everton from having a clear chance on their goal all night.
While attacking moments were not flowing at the other end either, it mattered little as the took the big opportunity which fell their way to ensure they would take the points back to east London.
West Ham were forced into a late change in goal just moments before kick-off as Lukasz Fabianski suffered an injury in the warm-up, so Darren Randolph stepped into the breach.
The Ireland international goalkeeper would have been grateful for the slow start to the contest, allowing him to ease his way into the action.
Both sides were well organised in defence, forcing the other to play their passes in front of them, with the inevitable result that attacking moments were few and far between before the interval.
A dangerous Jarrod Bowen corner skimmed off Sébastien Haller’s head, while an Cresswell cross-shot flew across goal with Bowen lurking as the visitors forced a couple of half-chances in the opening 45.
It wasn’t until right on half-time that either goalkeeper was forced into a save, and it was comfortable enough for Randolph as he watched Bernard’s well-struck effort from outside the box all the way, diving to his right to push away.
The second period began in a similar vein, although Jordan Pickford was called into action on the hour, sticking up his right hand to push away a powerful Cresswell free-kick after Ben Godfrey had dragged Vladimir Coufal down in the right channel.
All of a sudden the teams exchanged chances, with Seamus Coleman shooting straight at Randolph at one end, before Pablo Fornals was picked out unmarked in front of goal ten yards out by Bowen, but failed to get the connection he needed on the header and sent it comfortably wide.
West Ham introduced Michail Antonio and Everton James Rodriguez and Andre Gomes from the bench as both looked for more in the attacking third, and just as the game looked to be heading towards a second 0-0 draw in succession for the visitors, they struck the telling blow.
Just four minutes were left on the clock when Souček pounced, showing deadly goalscoring instincts in the box to react first when Aaron Cresswell’s drive from outside the box deflected off Yerry Mina’s heel and into his path.
Pickford was left with no chance as the Hammers celebrated the ideal start to the New Year.
Everton: Pickford, Coleman, Holgate, Mina, Godfrey, Doucoure, Davies, Bernard (Rodriguez 64), Sigurdsson (Gomes 64), Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin (Tosun 79)
Subs: Olsen, Lossl, Nkounkou, Keane, Branthwaite, Gordon
Booked: Godfrey, Davies
West Ham United: Randolph, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Souček, Bowen (Lanzini 73), Benrahma, Fornals (Yarmolenko 73), Haller (Antonio 59)
Subs: Martin, Johnson, Balbuena, Diop, Noble, Snodgrass
Goal: Souček 86
Referee: Kevin Friend