Lukaku equalizer gives Everton a point
Romelu Lukaku continued his remarkable scoring sequence against West Ham United to earn Everton a 1-1 draw in their Premier League tussle at Upton Park yesterday. The Belgium striker made it seven goals in as many games against the east London club after cancelling out Manuel Lanzini’s opening goal shortly before halftime. The result kept Slaven Bilic’s West Ham in fifth place, but they are now three points below the Champions League berths, while Roberto Martinez’s Everton are four points back in eighth place.
West Ham will be sick of the sight of Lukaku, but they could not complain that they had not received prior warning. Lukaku’s impressive feat saw him become only the second Everton player, alongside Toffees great Dixie Dean, to score against the same opponent in seven consecutive matches.
Both sides, who are pushing for a coveted Champions League spot, had enjoyed contrasting results on their previous outings. West Ham lost for the first time on the road at Watford, while Everton thumped Sunderland 6-2.
But it was West Ham who looked the more lively early on. Dimitri Payet’s surging run and pass saw Victor Moses side-foot just wide after three minutes.
Everton were struggling to find any cohesion. That was summed up when Arouna Kone, fresh from his hat-trick in the rout of Sunderland, wasted a chance in the 18th minute.
James McCarthy’s quickly taken free-kick freed Kone, but the Ivorian striker could only screw a presentable opening wide.
West Ham left-back Aaron Cresswell came close to a breakthrough moments later as his shot with the outside of the foot drifted the wrong side of the post.
But the home side did not have to wait too long before Lanzini curled home a sumptuous 30th-minute opener.
Moses’s cross was deflected into the path of the on-loan Argentine winger, who bent a sublime strike from the edge of the box around Tim Howard and into the top-right corner.
Everton had been off the pace, but they carved out a 43rd-minute leveller with a move that came like a bolt from the blue. Gerard Deulofeu’s through-ball split open the home defence and Lukaku raced clear to round Adrian and slot home.
West Ham suffered a further blow when the influential Payet hobbled off early in the second period after failing to shake off the effects of an earlier challenge by McCarthy.
It meant that Bilic was forced into a minor reshuffle. Lanzini was moved inside and the winger almost helped West Ham regain their lead in the 63rd minute. He swept past Seamus Coleman and his low shot was tipped around the post by Howard. The bad injury news kept on coming for West Ham as striker Valencia was stretched off after an innocuous challenge from Coleman. — AFP
West Ham 1