Everton marked David Moyes's last home game as manager with a comfortable 2-0 win against West Ham United at Goodison Park thanks to two goals from Kevin Mirallas.
The hosts were dominant from the outset in Moyes’s penultimate game and it was of little surprise when Mirallas gave them a sixth minute lead.
While they dominated the rest of the half they were unable to add to their advantage with Victor Anichebe passing up a pretty presentable opportunity half way through the first period.
Mirallas then doubled his side’s advantage with an hour on the clock as the Toffees continued to dominate but Jussi Jaaskelainen was in inspired form as he denied the third goal the home side's play merited.
Andy Carroll, roundly booed throughout, almost halved the deficit late on but his header came back off the post and Everton closed out a win that ensured Moyes’s men finish above neighbours Liverpool.
No trophies arrived on his watch but Moyes came into his 426th Premier League game as manager of Everton knowing that a victory over West Ham would ensure the Toffees a second successive top-flight finish above Liverpool - something they've not achieved since 1937.
He has restored pride and competitiveness to one of England’s most esteemed clubs and was afforded a rousing send off from the home faithful for his 11 years of service.
His captain, Phil Neville, however, was denied a Goodison swansong by a knee injury but, that aside, Everton were full strength for their penultimate game of the season, so Moyes named an unchanged side from last weekend’s Merseyside derby.
If Moyes was concerned that the weight of emotion would bear heavily on his side he had need not as the Toffees immediately set about pinning back a rudderless West Ham United side.
And there were just six minutes on the clock as Mirallas finished off a flowing team move involving Leighton Baines, Leon Osman and Marouane Fellaini to give the home side the advantage their early supremacy had merited.
Osman, who had been afforded far too much space in midfield, almost added a second with twelve minutes on the clock when he showed a great sleight of foot to escape the clutches of Winston Reid and draw a save from Jaaskelainen.
While Osman’s opportunity had an air of difficulty to it, Anichebe should have doubled his side’s advantage with 23 minutes gone, but, having found himself onside and only seven yards out, the Nigerian international lacked composure and lashed an effort straight at Jaaskelainen.
The Hammers were abject for much of the first half but the advantage of utilising a direct style of play is that it can produce chances from very little.
And that was the case on the half hour mark when Matt Jarvis found Kevin Nolan early on the edge of the box, but Tim Howard was equal to the former Newcastle man’s volley as he pushed it wide of goal.
Despite that chance, Everton’s superiority was never in question and Fellaini was denied by a last ditch block from James Collins on 37 minutes as the hosts re-established their dominance.
Considering the extent of Everton’s excellence, Allardyce will have been happy to go to the interval just the one goal down.
The West Ham manager made a tactical switch at the interval with Carlton Cole entering the fray but, while the attacking nature of the switch was to be applauded, the decision to go from a five man to a four man midfield was puzzling considering the home side’s utter command of the area during the opening half.
Unsurprisingly, the Everton supremacy continued and although their second was fully merited, it was unlucky that the superb Collins was the man whose attempted last-ditch challenge deflected the Mirallas effort past Jaaskelainen in goal.
Jaaskelainen and Collins were the only players who emerged from an abject performance with any credit as first the keeper and then the Welsh international turned efforts from Osman and Steven Pienaar around the post.
The Hammers rallied late on with Joe Cole drawing a smart save from Howard in the Everton goal on 79 minutes before Carroll headed against the post with only four minutes left to play.
It was fitting though that the Toffees managed to keep a clean sheet, and a win next weekend over Chelsea would see Moyes sign off having garnered 66 points – Everton's highest tally in the Premier League era.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Kevin Mirallas – A constant threat getting in behind West Ham, and capped a superb performance with a brace.
Everton: Howard 6, Coleman 7, Distin 6, Jagielka 6, Baines 7,Gibson 7, Mirallas 9, Osman 7, Pienaar 8, Fellaini 6, Anichebe 5. Subs: Hibbert 5, Jelavic 5, Oviedo 5.
West Ham United: Jaaskelainen 6, Demel 5, Collins 7, Reid 5, O'Brien 5, O'Neil 5, Diame 4, Nolan 5, Collison 4, Jarvis 5, Carroll 5. Subs: Noble 5, J.Cole 6, C.Cole 5.
- Sports & Recreation
- West Ham United
- Kevin Mirallas
- David Moyes
- Victor Anichebe
- Leon Osman