Everton 0-1 West Ham United
Angelo Ogbonna’s late header secured a return to winning ways for West Ham in the Premier League, defeating Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park.
A performance full of hard work and endeavour did not appear set to be capped by the goal it warranted at Goodison Park on Sunday afternoon until the Italian centre-back, attacking Jarrod Bowen’s corner at the near post, headed the ball across goal and into the far corner with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining on the clock.
Everton pressed forwards in the closing minutes in search of an equaliser, but it was the team in Claret and Blue who created the clearer opportunities on the break while remaining defensively sturdy.
As it was, Ogbonna’s late header was enough to secure back-to-back Premier League victories at Goodison Park for West Ham for the first time in 63 attempts, and for the first occasion since 1930 – a feat which sees them move up to sixth in the table.
On his return to his former Club, David Moyes made one change to his starting XI from the late 2-1 defeat by Brentford prior to the international break.
Ben Johnson came in for the injured Vladimír Coufal at right-back, but otherwise the Irons named the same team which kicked off against the Bees at London Stadium a fortnight ago.
They did so with evident energy and purpose, controlling the early stages and giving cause for concern from an audibly anxious Goodison Park crowd.
Indeed, the Toffees rarely had a look in during the opening stages with West Ham enjoying almost 80 per cent of the possession inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour, without quite finding the final ball to match.
Chances to cross came and went for the likes of Bowen, Johnson and Said Benrahma, the latter having the first chance of the game to shoot, but blasting a half-volley over the bar after ten minutes.
Everton did eventually muster an effort on goal after 20 minutes, but Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first-time shot sailed harmlessly over the bar from 30 yards.
The home team did start to come into the game as the first half wore on, calling on Ogbonna and his centre-back partner Kurt Zouma – facing his former team – to make several imposing headed clearances.
Alex Iwobi enjoyed a clear opportunity in front of goal for Everton after half-an-hour, but mis-timed his finish at the crucial moment, while Doucoure headed narrowly wide moments after Lukasz Fabianski had pushed away a powerful cross from Iwobi on the left flank.
The Hammers did eventually have the ball in the net close to half-time, Tomas Souček converting the rebound after Bowen had seen a low effort saved by Pickford at the conclusion of a free-flowing counter-attack – but the Czech midfielder was subsequently denied by the offside flag.
Bowen and Fornals both came close with blocked volleys prior to half-time in an opening period of few chances, but plenty of encouraging signs for Moyes’ team.
The second half proved a more even affair, Iwobi forcing Ogbonna into a fine stretching block with a turn and shot inside the West Ham box, before Salomon Rondon glanced a Townsend cross wide of the far post.
But in a reversal of the momentum of the first half, this time it was West Ham who grew into the period, Antonio and Benrahma both seeing efforts blocked from close range as two committed defences continued to win out.
When the winning goal did arrive, it was one borne of persistence, Antonio challenging Pickford for a looping ball and – much to the Everton goalkeeper’s frustration – winning a corner with his challenge.
Bowen swung the ball in with pinpoint precision towards Rice and Ogbonna, the former just missing it but the latter glancing it superbly beyond Pickford and high into the net with 16 minutes to go.
Both teams made a series of late substitutions as they attempted to keep control of the closing periods, but it was West Ham who came closest to doubling their lead when Pickford produced an outstanding stop to deny Bowen’s curling effort on the break.
As it was, despite a spell of concentrated home pressure, West Ham had secured their victory – a tight game settled by a solitary moment of quality in front of goal from Ogbonna, and a battling and spirited performance throughout the entirety of the rest of the Irons’ side.
West Ham United: Fabiański, Johnson, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice (c), Souček (Dawson 79), Bowen (Yarmolenko 90+4), Fornals, Benrahma (Lanzini 87), Antonio
Subs: Areola (GK), Ashby, Masuaku, Diop, Baptiste, Vlašić
Goal: Ogbonna 74
Booked: Antonio, Fornals
Everton: Pickford, Coleman (c), Godfrey, Keane, Digne, Allan, Doucoure, Gray, Townsend, Iwobi (Gordon 79), Rondon
Subs: Begovic (GK), Tyrer (GK), Kenny, Holgate, Mina, Gbamin, Davies, Dobbin
Referee: Kevin Friend