Everton 2 (1) – (0) 0 West Ham United
By Thom Power
David Moyes’ first ever match in charge as Everton boss ended with victory over a club from London. It was only fitting that his last match in charge at Goodison Park ended with a win over another London outfit, making Bwin.com correct in making the Blues favourites.
Goals either side of half time from Kevin Mirallas ensured that the Scot departs L4 having secured sixth spot in the Premier League for the Toffees, and on a day that was emotional for all it was fitting that he gave a injury time substitution appearance to Tony Hibbert, who is the only remaining member of Everton’s first team squad from the one that featured in Moyes’ first match at the helm.
Phil Neville, who is also leaving Goodison at the end of the current campaign, was denied a chance to make one last Goodison appearance due to a knee injury, but the 36 year old cheered on the Blues from his box, whilst Tim Cahill was guest of honour and given a chance to say his own goodbyes following his move to the USA last summer.
The Scot named an unchanged side to the one that drew 0-0 at Anfield last weekend, and with a vociferous backing from a sell out crowd the Blues tore into the Hammers from the first whistle; Sylvain Distin spurning the first chance of the game but toe poking Marouane Fellaini’s header inches wide of the upright.
But the Goodison faithful did not have long to wait for a goal befitting the occasion. A scintillating passing move involving Fellaini, Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar culminated in the South African laying the ball off to Mirallas, who side footed home from twelve yards to open the scoring.
Everton were rampant as the visitors failed to keep up with the frenetic pace of the game, and the Toffees went close three times in quick succession to doubling their advantage: Darron Gibson’s dipping volley clipped the crossbar on its way towards goal, Victor Anichebe’s shot on the turn flew just wide of the right hand post and Leon Osman saw a left footed effort held at the second attempt by Jussi Jaaskalainen.
Kevin Nolan finally registered an effort on goal for the Hammers on the half hour mark, but Tim Howard was equal to his shot, tipping the ball away from goal with his left glove.
The second half took some time to get going following the opening forty five minutes, but once it did it lived up to its predecessor. Mirallas sent a left foot effort flying over the bar from an acute angle, but he did not wait long to double his, and Everton’s tally, on the day.
A perfectly weighted through ball by Gibson sent Mirallas on his way, and after jinking past two challenges the Belgian sent a strike towards goal, and the ball took a wicked deflection off the outstretched boot of James Collins and looped into the top right corner.
Osman then saw two left footed strikes palmed towards safety by Jasskalainen before Pienaar’s attempt was blocked by Collins on the edge of the area. Anichebe sent a header wide of the goal from six yards out not long after, before substitute Joe Cole forced a good saved from Howard following Andy Carroll’s low cross.
Moyes withdrew Man of the Match Mirallas in injury time to a standing ovation, and sent on Hibbert with minutes remaining to the appreciation of the crowd.
And so ends an era at Everton for David Moyes. The Scot will take charge of the Toffees for one last time against Chelsea next weekend, and I hope I speak for us all here when I wish Moyes the best of luck with the rest of his managerial career.