West Brom 1 Everton 1
Everton manager Roberto Martinez turned to new signing Aiden McGeady in an effort to turn one point into three at The Hawthorns last night.
The Republic of Ireland wide man looked sharp during his cameo but was unable to help his new club snatch a winner that would have put them back above city rivals Liverpool and into fourth place.
Kevin Mirallas’s 41st-minute strike had looked set to earn the Goodison Park outfit a third victory in four league games.
But Albion, under the control of new manager Pepe Mel for the first time, frustrated Everton when Diego Lugano headed home a 75th-minute equaliser.
Defender Lugano’s first goal in English football meant Mel avoided a losing start to his West Brom career and provided a ray of light amid the ongoing controversy surrounding Nicolas Anelka.
With Everton led by Martinez it meant there were two Spanish managers on the touchline. The expectation, even on a chilly night in the west midlands, was for an exhibition of flowing football.
What materialised in the first half was anything but as Mel’s men, no doubt eager to impress their new manager, were pulled up for a number of niggling fouls while the visitors displayed none of their usual flow and rhythm.
With the spotlight on Anelka, the Frenchman at least provided glimpses of his talent. Half-chances were prevalent. Romelu Lukaku, who spent last season on loan with West Brom, hooked an early effort wide while Matej Vydra’s cross — via another Anelka through-ball — was tipped away by Tim Howard with James Morrison lurking at the back post.
The breakthrough goal, in the 41st minute, came out of the blue and would definitely be classed as part of Martinez’s plan B. Centre-back Sylvain Distin, returning after a three-match injury absence, launched the ball in the direction of Lukaku and he nodded it down into the path of Belgian compatriot Mirallas who easily beat Ben Foster.
The quality did not improve greatly in the second half but the hosts, sensing Everton were not
entirely comfortable, ramped up the pressure and substitute Victor Anichebe — another playing against a club he left in the summer — had a near-post chance blocked by Phil Jagielka from Anelka’s cross.
When Lugano attacked the same area from Morrison’s cross he had more success, powering a header past Tim Howard.
WEST BROM: Foster, Reid, Lugano, Olsson, Ridgewell, Gera (Mulumbu 60), Morrison, Yacob, Brunt, Vydra (Anichebe 46), Anelka (Berahino 77).
EVERTON: Howard, Coleman (Stones 79), Jagielka, Distin, Baines, McCarthy, Barry, Oviedo (McGeady 80), Mirallas, Osman (Naismith 89), Lukaku.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
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