Ogbonna sinks Everton as slick West Ham give Moyes a happy return

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<span>Photograph: Magi Haroun/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Magi Haroun/Shutterstock

Goodison Park has not provided the warmest of returns for David Moyes since he exited eight years ago but, as evidenced by several clench-fist salutes to a boisterous West Ham support after the final whistle, this was a visit to savour for the former Everton manager. Angelo Ogbonna’s second-half header delivered victory for an impressive West Ham team who, in many ways, reflect what Moyes once built at his old club.

Everton were second best for large swathes of a contest that was decided in controversial fashion, with Jordan Pickford claiming he was fouled in the buildup to the corner that yielded Ogbonna’s winner, and sorely missed the injured attacking duo of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison. But there was no disputing the merits of West Ham’s victory and the pedigree of their performance. Michail Antonio was a thorn all afternoon to the Everton defence, ably supported by Jarrod Bowen, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek once again formed a formidable unit in central midfield. How Moyes will have relished getting one over Rafael Benítez.

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It was strange not only to witness Benítez and Moyes in the opposite dugouts at Goodison, with the former Liverpool and Everton managers meeting here for the first time since November 2009, but also to see the hosts so comprehensively dominated on home soil for the opening 15 minutes. Three successive wins had delivered Everton’s best start at home for 32 years yet they opened sluggishly in comparison to a sharp and confident West Ham.

The visitors impressed from the off although would fail to turn control and comfortable possession into a clearcut opportunity. Everton took 16 minutes to construct their first attack of note, when Salomón Rondón and Alex Iwobi just failed to connect with an Andros Townsend cross, but grew into the game thereafter with Demarai Gray’s pace and trickery a potent outlet.

Gray’s strength also caught the eye when he created the clearest chance of the first half, one that should have produced the breakthrough for Iwobi but instead led to disbelieving groans at a dreadful miss. Racing on to Townsend’s ball down the right channel, Gray shrugged off the powerful presence of Ogbonna before skipping away from the central defender and threading a perfect cross along the face of West Ham’s six-yard box. Iwobi, unmarked and with only Lukasz Fabianski to beat from close range, kicked fresh air instead of a gift of a ball.

Alex Iwobi fluffs a golden chance to put Everton ahead against West Ham
Alex Iwobi fluffs a golden chance to put Everton ahead against West Ham. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Gray almost pounced on an Iwobi cross that Fabianski punched his way and Abdoulaye Doucouré headed wide from an inviting Townsend delivery as Everton started to create space and overloads out wide. West Ham responded in kind, with Bowen and Pablo Fornals increasingly prominent, and were close to taking the lead when Soucek dispossessed Doucouré – courtesy of a foul according to the incensed Everton midfielder – to instigate a flowing attack that led to Bowen testing Pickford from the edge of the area. Pickford saved impressively low to his left and Soucek, of all people, was on hand to sweep the follow-up into the roof of the net. The referee, Stuart Attwell, was spared Goodison’s wrath by an offside decision against the West Ham midfielder.

Doucouré and Ben Godfrey threw themselves in the way of shots from Bowen and Fornals respectively after a West Ham corner. The Spanish midfielder should also have hit the target when Everton’s defence evaporated and allowed him a free hit that he curled wide from 18 yards.

The teams continued trading blows from the restart. Ogbonna deflected an Iwobi shot wide, Rondón glanced another telling cross from Townsend wide and Michael Keane produced a vital block to prevent Antonio capitalising on Saïd Benrahma’s through ball. With Declan Rice and Soucek having the edge in central midfield, however, West Ham remained the more composed and dangerous unit, although their eventual lead came with controversy attached.

Pickford felt he had been fouled by Antonio when, under pressure to deal with a Bowen shot that looped up off Godfrey, he tipped the loose ball behind for a corner. His protests were ignored by Attwell. From the resulting set piece, drilled in with accuracy and pace by Bowen, Ogbonna rose in front of the Everton central defender and steered a deft header beyond the aggrieved England goalkeeper.

There was no indignant, concerted response from Everton besides Gray having a shot charged down in the dying seconds. West Ham looked more likely to score again with Antonio rampaging through several times and Pickford produced a superb save to claw away a Bowen shot that was heading for the top corner.

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