Lukaku strikes again to defeat Hammers
Barclays Premier League
West Ham United 1-2 Everton
The Hammers slipped to a 2-1 defeat in their last home game of the season in
agonizing circumstances as tormentor-in-chief Romelu Lukaku scored a 93rd
In an even game which had a distinct end-of-season flavour about it, the
hosts drew first blood thanks to a skilful finish from Stewart Downing. The
England international ran onto a threaded ball from Alex Song. Downing
checked, before curling an effort past Tim Howard.
The Toffees, playing the Hammers for the fourth time this season, rallied
through a fantastic goal of their own as Leon Osman's scissor kick evened
Both sides had a handful of half-chances to take all three points, yet it
was Romelu Lukaku, who else, who popped up unmarked in the six yard box to
seal the win for the Blues.
In a game of little significance save for determining who will compete in
the Europa League, Roberto Martinez's Toffees showed first at the Boleyn
Ground. Ross Barkley played in Leon Osman, whose toe poke was tipped around
the post by Adrian.
From the resulting corner, Romelu Lukaku miskicked and John Stones skewed
wide of the far post from eight yards.
At the other end, Mark Noble and Aaron Cresswell crosses brought handball
appeals. Kevin Friend pointed to the corner flag on both occasions.
There was an early reshuffle for Big Sam to contend with, as Young Hammer of
the Year Reece Burke replaced an injured James Collins.
West Ham had to make do with long-range efforts. Alex Song found the side
netting, before Enner Valencia drove one straight at Tim Howard.
With almost half-an-hour played Noble surrendered possession and West Ham
nearly paid a heavy price. Lennon teed up Lukaku, who cut inside onto his
left foot and blasted over the top.
Then Stewart Downing sought to liven things up with a rasping drive from
some 25 yards, but Howard was equal to it, beating it aside and out of
In the fair play stakes, Everton racked up two bookings to West Ham's one in
the first half, but, in truth, there was precious little to shout about.
As they did in the first half, the visitors started the brighter in the
second. Lukaku's free-kick from Leighton Baines territory went whistling
past the upright and cannoned into the stanchion. The Everton fans behind
the goal thought it was in. Hammers fans could at least delight in their
Downing was growing into the game and dragged his teammates with him. The
winger looked increasingly dangerous on the right and then popped up with a
Song slipped it into his path and the No.11 instantly brought his under
spell before bending a neat left-footed effort into the far corner. Classy
The lead, however, would last little more than five minutes. Though Lukaku's
cross from the right was a shade behind Osman, his control was splendid and
then, on the turn, he sent an acrobatic right-footed effort past Adrian.
The match became increasingly stretched as both sides pressed for a winner
and the hosts almost found one through Alex Song as he found himself,
surprisingly, in the six yard box where he headed Jenkinson's lofted cross
Ironically, for two teams aiming to qualify for the Europa League via the
Fair Play League, an edge to the game developed as Kouyate reacted angrily
to Galloway's challenge. Referee Kevin Friend was quick to intervene and
diffuse the situation.
With just minutes to go, the Hammers eagerness to find a winner cost them
the game as Everton countered from a corner. They broke with pace and
managed to set Lukaku free on the edge of the box who unleashed a fierce
drive yet Adrian was equal to it as he palmed it away.
The Hammers failed to deal with the pressure from the resulting corner.
Substitute Aiden McGeady crossed from the right flank for Lukaku to head
home from close range.
Everton's win sees them overtake the Hammers, with both sides on equal
points and goal difference. The Hammers go into their final league game of
the season away at Newcastle knowing they'll need a win to give them a
chance of finishing in the top ten.
West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Collins (Burke 14), Reid,
Song, Noble, Kouyate, Downing, Cole (Nene 69), Valencia
Subs: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Amalfitano, Jarvis, Lee
Goals: Downing 62
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Galloway, Jagielka, Stones, McCarthy, Barry,
Lennon (McGeady 77), Barkley (Mirallas 70), Osman, Lukaku
Subs: Robles, Garbutt, Besic, Naismith, Kone
Goals: Osman 68, Lukaku 90+3
Booked: Coleman, Barry, McCarthy, Galloway
Referee: Kevin Friend
'We've come crashing down '
Conceding late goals has become a painful habit for West Ham United fans to
have to stomach in 2015.
On Saturday, in the home finale against Everton, the Boleyn Ground faithful
were again stunned as Everton stole victory through Romelu Lukaku's
Manager Sam Allardyce also looked stunned as his Hammers side slipped into
the bottom half of the Barclays Premier League with one game remaining of a
season that had promised a great deal at Christmas time.
It has been far from a disastrous 2014/15 campaign, with 47 points being
West Ham's best top-flight haul since 2008/09, but Big Sam says his squad
could and should have collected more.
Saturday's defeat was particularly hard to take, seeing as the home side had
taken a deserved lead through Stewart Downing's fine 62nd-minute goal, only
for Leon Osman to equalise out of nothing six minutes later, and Lukaku to
thrust a late knife into Hammers hearts yet again.
"It's happened again and I think that the players are learning a hard and
fast since the turn of the year, when we were on the crest of a wave for so
long," the manager told West Ham TV.
"We've come crashing down and realised the level we are playing at and the
mistakes you can't make because they will be punished. There have been some
hard lessons learned by the players - especially the younger players and the
players who have joined us from abroad.
"They might have thought around Christmas that the Premier League was not as
hard as they thought, but now they realise the tough end of the Premier
League by how many times they have been punished for losing their shape and
losing their concentration, not protecting what they have got.
"That's far too many leads that we've relinquished, most of the time due to
our own deficiencies in terms of defending as a team. We were winning 1-0
and that should have been enough. It was about protecting that lead.
"Everton had nothing to lose and were going to take more and more risks, so
we had to counteract that by defending properly. Everton would then leave
more spaces and we could have counter-attacked and scored.
"We let it go the opposite way and we shouldn't have done that when we were
There have been some hard lessons learned by the players - especially the
younger players and the players who have joined us from abroad
While Winston Reid returned to the starting XI after injury, the Hammers
lost James Collins to a leg problem early on, adding to a list of absences
that also includes Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho and James Tomkins.
Reece Burke produced another assured display as a substitute, only to learn
the harsh realities of top-flight football when Lukaku ghosted in behind him
to head Aiden McGeady's cross past Adrian.
"They scored [the equaliser] when we were in our best spell of the game,
exerting pressure on them," the manager lamented. "Let's face it, the bottom
line is that Everton's front line was more clinical than our front line.
"That has been our problem for a long time and that's why we had to protect
the lead that we got. On paper, the way we have gone turn the end of the
year, we weren't going to score two. We got one and we should have had a
penalty for handball against Coleman in the first half, which was an
outrageous decision. He flipped his hand on it down in the corner, but the
referee hasn't given it.
"We got the goal, a brilliant goal it was too from Stewart, and a fantastic
performance from Reece Burke coming on as a substitute again. He is
18-years-old and he's really disappointed that we've lost, but put in a
really good performance against Lukaku, who is one of the strongest and most
difficult opponents you can play against in this league.
"I know you can look at the last goal and say who should have done what,
maybe, but at the end of the day he has real future at West Ham.
"I'm really disappointed for the players because they didn't deserve that,
but they shot themselves in the foot."
Downing disappointed with Toffees loss
Stewart Downing scored his sixth goal of the season as West Ham United ended
their home programme of fixtures for the 2014/15 campaign against Everton on
Saturday, but it was a bitter-sweet afternoon for the 30-year-old as the
Toffees recovered from his strike to win 2-1.
It extends an eight-year wait for a league victory against Everton but
Downing felt this was the occasion to go on and claim those three points.
His goal was a well-constructed one, making space in the box by playing a
one-two with Alex Song before expertly finding the bottom corner.
It ultimately counted for little though and that frustrated the England
"I think we had a generally good game," he said. "We created a few chances,
took the lead deservedly and then they've equalised against the run of play.
"The goals we've conceded are disappointing, as a team we didn't defend them
properly and we wanted to finish here on a winning note so that is
"I had a couple of opportunities before I scored - one in the first half
which Tim Howard saved and a couple of blocked shots too - but like the
manager says, you have to keep going, keep shooting and you'll get your
"It was a great ball from Alex to get it through a couple of players. I
wanted to take a touch then try and place it really. It was a bit like the
Crystal Palace goal, so I was pleased with that but disappointed that we
didn't get the win."
The Hammers have made an unfortunate habit of conceding late goals in recent
times and Downing says cutting those out are key if his team are to push on
again next year.
"Maybe we've been getting a bit nervy in the last few minutes of games," he
said. "When you've been conceding late it could be on people's minds, but
you've got to block that out.
"In the first half of the season we were ruthless, but conceding late in
games has cost us. With the points we've dropped we could have been in the
"If we eradicate those mistakes, individually and as a team, and with the
addition of a few more quality players we can be a European place team.
We're not far away."