Everton edge it again

West Ham United 0-2 Everton

For the second time in four days, Everton left the Boleyn Ground victorious as West Ham United again came unstuck against the Toffees.

Despite having the lion's share of the contest, Alan Curbishley's side paid the price for failing to make their early supremacy count, as Yakubu struck his eleventh goal of the season on the stroke of half-time. His replacement Andrew Johnson sealed the win with virtually the last kick.

Following Wednesday evening's heartbreaking, last-gasp, Carling Cup exit at the hands of the Merseysiders, Alan Curbishley had made two changes as James Collins came in for fellow Welshman, Danny Gabbidon (groin), while the previously cup-tied Nolberto Solano returned in place of Luis Boa Morte (thigh).

With Freddie Ljungberg moving over to the left flank, Solano took up his familiar right-wing spot and with just two minutes on the clock, the Peruvian quickly swung in an awkward corner that Tim Howard gratefully pawed out from under his crossbar.

Scott Parker also raced away but failed to find the supporting Carlton Cole, while Dean Ashton bundled wide, before forcing the Everton keeper to dive on to his low cross into the danger zone.

On the quarter-hour mark, West Ham United cut incisively through the crisp East End chill but when Solano topped the free-flowing move with an inch-perfect pass to Ljungberg, the Swede, just eight-yards out, was thwarted by the relieved Howard, who retrieved the point-blank shot at the second attempt.

Forcing the early pace - and with just one defeat in their previous seven Premier League outings - tenth-placed West Ham United had every right to fancy their chances of exacting swift revenge over an Everton side that had extended their unbeaten run to eleven matches in all competitions on Wednesday evening.

Having now seen his side - in seventh spot - progress to both the final four of the competition and last 32 of the UEFA Cup, there had been little surprise when David Moyes returned to the East End with an unchanged side.

Although Leon Osman volleyed wide and ten-goal Yakubu saw his ambitious 35-yarder charged down, the home side were well on top and midway through half, the airborne Ashton almost warmed the claret and blue fans amongst the 34,430 crowd, when he hooked the ball over the advancing Howard only to see his 15-yarder agonisingly bounce inches off-target.

Five minutes before the break, another fine move that had started from Robert Green's throw-out climaxed with the ghosting Scott Parker getting in front of Lee Carsley to nod the ball into the side-netting.

By now, the opening half looked destined to end goalless but, with just seconds remaining, the hitherto anonymous Yakubu stunned the Boleyn Ground when he nodded Everton into an interval lead, after Mikel Arteta centred from the left-hand side of the penalty area to the far post, where Tim Cahill headed back across goal for the stooping Nigerian to net for the fifth time in three games from six yards.

That strike changed the context of both half-time team talks, with Curbishley replacing Carlton Cole with Henri Camara for the restart. After Lee Carsley saw his scorching 35-yard shot bravely diverted to safety by Matthew Upson, Mark Noble replaced Solano for the final half-hour.

Within seconds of the Peruvian's departure, Hayden Mullins topped off a mazy run with a low 15-yarder that thudded into the boards, and after the escaping Cahill lifted the ball over Green, Collins and the crossbar, Yobo slid in to turn Camara's dangerous low cross behind.

With a quarter-hour remaining, Steven Pienaar's centre was met by Yakubu, but the alert Green was equal to the well-directed header and he turned the ball aside to deny his nemesis a second, before tipping over another rising, Carsley screamer. That was the cue for Curbishley to make one final switch as Kyel Reid replaced the hard-working Mullins but that third and final substitution still could not make any difference as West Ham launched a late onslaught.

Three minutes into stoppage time, Johnson who had just replaced Yakubu raced clear on to Phil Neville's long-range clearance and sealed victory with a clinical lob over the stranded Green.

West Ham United: Green, Neill (c), Collins, Upson, McCartney, Solano (Noble 60), Mullins (Reid 80), Parker, Ljungberg, Ashton, Cole (Camara 46)
Subs: Wright, Spector

Everton: Howard, Neville (c), Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott, Arteta, Osman, Carsley, Pienaar, Cahill, Yakubu (Johnson 87)
Subs: Wessels, Hibbert, Gravesen, McFadden