West Brom 0 Everton 1
Mbaye Diagne’s stoppage time equaliser was cruelly ruled out for offside after they put in an excellent performance against Carlo Ancelotti’s expensively-assembled Champions League-chasing side.
A point would have been well-deserved for Albion after they restricted Everton to few chances and created a number of excellent opportunities of their own. But the Toffees’ potency in front of goal eventually told, although not after they brought on two substitutes that cost in excess of £60m between them.
In truth, the introduction of Allan and Sigurðsson was key to Everton’s victory as Allardyce’s side had largely nullified the visitors’ threat until that point and had created the better chances.
It look a wonderful save from Jordan Pickford to deny Diagne an early goal and he was also denied a penalty claim in the first half. After the break, Diagne had another decent chance when Bartley flicked on Furlong’s long throw and then there was the late heartbreak. The Senegalese controlled and finished superbly but was adjudged marginally offside.
Overall, it was an excellent performance from Albion, and while it is another game gone with no points, and there remains a mountain to climb to get out of their predicament, they can take a lot of positives from the evening.
I thought Diagne was a menace all game, bullying the Everton defence and holding the ball up on countless occasions – it was a performance that deserved a goal.
The other stand out performer was Okay Yokuşlu who was simply immense in the middle of the park. Had he been at the club for even half of the season, there is no way Albion would be in the bottom three. He has been an absolute revelation in the middle of the park, shielding the defence superbly and dictating the play in front of him. One of the biggest prizes of staying up would be the possibility to sign him permanently.
At the back, Bartley and O’Shea were superb once again while Townsend also put in a decent display – Furlong, however, didn’t have the best night defensively making a few errors that could have been punished more severely.
AMN did well once again – I love his energy – while Gallagher had a decent evening although I do lament his tendency to go down too easily. Matt Phillips did OK although he was on his heels for one great opportunity in the second half when Gallagher’s good work ended up with a ball flashed across the six yard box.
Pereira was once again a little below par – he did some good things and worked hard, but when you know what he is capable of, it’s always disappointing when he doesn’t produce it.
It was another frustrating evening for the Baggies, but it was another good performance and they should not be too disheartened. There is a concern as to whether they can produce again on Sunday lunchtime but, despite the result, I felt it was the right call by Big Sam to keep the same side.
He and his coaching staff now need to get them ready physically and mentally to another massive game in less than three days’ time.
No second chances now.