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A FRESH-LOOKING Everton line-up dominated West Ham on Saturday afternoon, but only a late strike from substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson gave Marco Silva’s side the winning margin they deserved.
Alex Iwobi took the Icelander’s place in the starting line-up, and though his display was rough around the edges, he provided a more dynamic form of inventiveness in the No 10 position.
More creativity came from the wings courtesy of Bernard, who hadn’t featured in the previous two games.
The Brazilian’s lively and tricky play brought the opening goal. Goodison’s capacity crowd groaned as he looked to have spurned the chance, failing to take an early shot, but he created more space for himself and placed his shot under Hammers goalkeeper Roberto from a narrow angle.
“I think we deserved the three points but should score more goals,” said Silva.
“It was a good performance, quality football. From the first minute, we embraced the game and the challenge.
“Our movement in the front three was good, with Alex in behind, they understood where the space was.”
West Ham struggled to create any clear chances, but they had a great opportunity to equalise late in the game when the ball fell at the feet of Angelo Ogbonna following a corner, but his snapshot was saved by Jordan Pickford.
An Everton midfield of Tom Davies and Andre Gomes behind Iwobi provided a useful combination of hard work, skill and creativity, which didn’t let the visitors into the game.
“They played better as a team, ran harder and that helped them win the game,” admitted West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini.
“It’s a difficult stadium to play in and they played better than we did.”
Pellegrini made a change at half time, bringing on Andre Yarmolenko for Felipe Anderson, commenting afterwards that he would have changed all 11 players if he could.
That’s perhaps unfair on Declan Rice who put in a shift in midfield, but if West Ham had got anything from this game, it would have been undeserved.
Lucas Digne hit a free-kick just wide, the impressive Theo Walcott hit the bar, Davies and Iwobi missed big chances and Yerry Mina had what looked like a perfectly good goal ruled out.
It was left to Sigurdsson, the technician, to take advantage of a tiring opposition defence and produce the moment of the game to secure the points.
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