Tomas Soucek’s late strike handed West Ham the first Premier League victory of 2021, beating Everton 1-0 in a game that lacked clear-cut chances.
Chances were at a premium for much of the game, with only one shot on target in the first half. It came when Bernard forced a leaping save from Darren Randolph in the 45th minute, with the goalkeeper a late replacement for the injured Lukasz Fabianski.
The second half was slightly improved. Aaron Cresswell and Pablo Fornals went close for West Ham, while Seamus Coleman drew an easy save from Randolph. But the visitors finally made the breakthrough in the 86th minute as Soucek fired home after a huge deflection from Yerry Mina.
Everton miss the chance to go second and remain in fourth ahead of the rest of the weekend’s games, with their four-match winning run ended. West Ham remain in tenth but go level on 26 points with five other Premier League teams, and are now three matches unbeaten.
How West Ham claimed victory on New Year’s Day
Despite the fireworks of New Year’s Eve, the first half failed to set the world alight with no shots on target from either side until the 45th minute. Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Sebastien Haller both glanced headers well wide from corners in the pick of the opening half an hour.
West Ham had the first real sight of goal. Jarrod Bowen, Haller and Said Benrahma worked the ball through the area before Cresswell was played in on the left. He flashed the ball across the face of goal with a wicked effort, but Bowen was unable to poke it home at the back post.
Everton: Pickford (6), Coleman (7), Mina (6), Coleman (7), Godfrey (7), Doucoure (7), Davies (7), Bernard (7), Sigurdsson (6), Richarlison (6), Calvert-Lewin (6).
Subs used: Rodriguez (6), Gomes (6), Tosun (5).
West Ham: Randolph (7), Coufal (7), Dawson (6), Ogbonna (7), Cresswell (8), Rice (8), Benrahma (6), Bowen (7), Soucek (8), Fornals (7), Haller (6).
Subs used: Antonio (7), Yarmolenko (6), Lanzini (6).
Man of the match: Tomas Soucek.
Randolph had placed Fabianski late in the warm-up after the regular West Ham No1 sustained an injury, but showed superb concentration when he saved from Bernard just before the break. Craig Dawson nodded away Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner, but only as far as the Everton winger. He took a touch before sending a fierce volley through the area, but Randolph made a superb, leaping save to keep out the only shot on target of the first half.
Ten minutes into the second half, West Ham went close after Cresswell played a free kick down the channel for Declan Rice. He then flashed a cross into the area but Haller could not get there in time to turn home.
- Everton made three changes. Michael Keane, Anthony Gordon and Alex Iwobi were replaced by Seamus Coleman, Bernard and Richarlison. James Rodriguez was back among the substitutes.
- West Ham also made three changes. Ryan Fredericks, Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini dropped out, and were replaced by Vladimir Coufal, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen.
It was another Cresswell free kick that finally drew a save from Pickford after the hour mark. He whipped an effort in from the right, but the England goalkeeper stretched to keep him out. Shortly after, Fornals fired a volley through a packed area, but it went straight at Pickford. It was similar story at the other end as Coleman tried to open things up for Everton, but could only find Randolph’s waiting arms.
Fornals had a gilt-edged chance to put West Ham ahead in the 64th minute. Bowen floated a cross into the middle, but the Spaniard could only send his free header wide as the wait for a goal continued.
Both sides made a raft of attacking changes – returnees Michail Antonio and James Rodriguez introduced for their respective sides – but it was the ever-reliable Soucek who popped up to win it for West Ham. His initial effort was saved by Pickford, but the rebound only went as far as Cresswell.
He thundered a shot into the area, which diverted into Soucek’s path by Mina’s foot. He then slotted home at the far post for his fifth Premier League goal of the season.
Man of the match – Tomas Soucek
It’s always easy to give the man of the match to a goalscorer, but Soucek was more than just goals against Everton.
He helped gain possession a huge 15 times and made the most passes of the West Ham side (56), with 41 of those completed successfully. Up front, both of his shots were on target and of course, one of them was the much-needed winning goal.
Speaking to BT Sport, David Moyes said: “He’s been very important. I think he’s played better than he played tonight but if he keeps coming up with the goals then I’ll be more than happy.”
Indeed, Soucek’s goal was his fifth in the league this season and makes him West Ham’s top scorer. What a find he is turning out to be.
What the managers said
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said: “It was not a good performance. We didn’t deserve to win, we didn’t deserve to lose. I think the game was in balance, they had a lucky deflection and we lost the game. We are disappointed and frustrated but we missed one point from this game and we will try to catch it in the next game.
“The performance was not at the top. Compared to the last game, we had more of the ball but we were not able to manage the ball as we wanted with more intensity, more speed, more quality in the final third. We didn’t have a lot of opportunity in the game, also because West Ham defended really well, like us. I think the defence were better than their offensive partners.
“We have a possibility in eight days to put in better conditions the players that were not able to train in this last period and look forward with belief.”
West Ham manager David Moyes said: “It certainly was [a good start to 20201], to come to Goodison and play as well as we did. We did a good, professional job tonight and got our rewards for it.
“I thought we had a really good performance, both with and without the ball. We had a lot of really good performers tonight and you’ve got to remember that we’re coming away to Everton, who have been having some great results recently and they would have gone second tonight in the Premier League if they’d won.
“It’s incredibly satisfying and I can’t praise the players enough having to go out again and play the third game in six days, I think they’ve done an incredible job. The level of fitness and professionalism to be in the best condition is great credit to them and my staff, who have done a great job in getting them prepared for the games.
“The players have been fantastic but we have added to it and all those player arc contributing to it. Even the boys coming off the bench are part of it now and are helping us to win games.
“But the big thing is we’re not ready yet to compete with the top boys. We’re putting on a good show when we’re playing them and coming close… We’ve come to Goodison and got a result which shows you how well the players are playing.”
Opta stats – Ancelotti’s bogey manager
- Everton have lost three of their last five Premier League home games (W2), as many defeats as they suffered in their previous 19 in the competition at Goodison Park (W8 D8).
- West Ham have enjoyed three wins in their last five Premier League away games (D1 L1), as many victories as they secured in their previous 16 on the road in the competition (D3 L10).
- Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has faced David Moyes more times in the Premier League without winning than against any other manager, drawing three and losing three of their six meetings.
Both teams are in FA Cup action next weekend. Everton host Rotherham on Friday January 9 while West Ham travel to Stockport on Monday January 11.
Everton will then travel to Wolves in the Premier League on Tuesday January 12, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8.15pm. West Ham welcome Burnley in their next league fixture on Saturday January 16; kick-off 3pm.