Three talking points as Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick helped Everton sweep aside West Ham
Sam Allardyce watched from the stands as a Wayne Rooney hat-trick inspired Everton to a much-needed three points against a struggling West Ham side at Goodison Park on Wednesday evening.
With the news of Allardyce’s impending appointment circulating around Merseyside during the day he saw his side take an early lead when Dominic Calvert-Lewin drew a rash challenge from goalkeeper Joe Hart inside the area, with Rooney heading home after his initial penalty was saved.
The Hammers struggled to have any impetus in the match during the first-half and Everton capitalised, with Rooney grabbing his second of the night when he slotted home into the corner.
David Moyes – returning to his former side with a third new club – saw his side have the chance to reduce the deficit from the spot after the break but Manuel Lanzini’s effort was firmly pushed away.
And just minutes later Rooney capped his hat-trick in the most ridiculous manner, running on to Hart’s clearance and not breaking his stride before arrowing in a flat drive from inside his own half.
Ashley Williams’ late header rounded off a superb night’s work for the Toffees, with the three points moving them up to 13th in the table, whilst West Ham remain two points adrift of safety in the bottom three.
Sense of nostalgia for Moyes and Allardyce
There was certainly reason for two managers to be nostalgic on Wednesday night.
For the incoming Everton manager Sam Allardyce, his first opportunity to see his new side in the flesh came against the team that he’d been at the helm of for four years, earning promotion from the Championship.
For opposite number David Moyes Wednesday was the third time that he returned to Merseyside with a new club, re-visiting the place where he first made a name for himself in the Premier League.
But it turned out to be the new Everton boss who left Goodison Park the happier man after overseeing a remarkable performance from his side, showing signs of hope for what lies ahead.
They looked dangerous in attack and assured at the back, managing to weather West Ham’s resurgent spell after the break and keep their first league clean sheet since the opening weekend against Stoke City.
There’s no doubt that there’s still a lot of work to do to get Everton back to where they should be in the table but there was a sense of character and pride in victory last night that will please Allardyce.
Rooney shows he has a part to play for the Toffees
When Sam Allardyce named his starting line-up for his one and only game in charge of the England national side for their victory over Slovakia, one man present on the team-sheet was Wayne Rooney.
And based on last night’s performance it’s more than likely that the 32-year-old will be lining up when Allardyce names his first Everton side after a stunning hat-trick from the ex-England captain.
When your side’s struggling – as Everton have been lately with just one win in their past 12 games prior to West Ham’s visit – there’s often a need for a leader to stand up, be counted and inspire, and that’s exactly what Rooney did as he made a lasting impression deployed in a central midfield role.
He may have been fortunate to see his saved spot-kick fall kindly back in his way for his first but his second highlighted how potent he could be with late runs, slotting home unmarked at the back post.
It was a night that will be remembered for his hat-trick clinching effort though, not even breaking stride before thumping a first-time effort into an empty net from inside the Everton half – it was a goal reminiscent of his one for Manchester United, also against West Ham – but this was a far more important one in the grand scheme of things considering Everton’s precarious position in the table.
Whilst it’s his trio of goals – his first league hat-trick in 2272 days – that will take the plaudits, his ability to control the play in the middle of the park wouldn’t have gone unnoticed by boss Allardyce.
Everton have desperately needed a leader of late and, with last night’s performance behind them and morale likely to be the highest it has been for a long while, they may have found one in Rooney.
West Ham’s slow start frustrates Moyes
“The second half at least, I could put my name to the performance. I didn’t want to put my name to the first half, that was for sure.
“We made changes at half-time, it made us better and look, tonight we weren’t good in the first half, so we didn’t deserve anything, but I thought when we needed small things to go for us, they didn’t.
These were the strong words of West Ham manager David Moyes shortly after the full-time whistle and his frank assessment of the match was a largely accurate one after West Ham’s atrocious opening 45.
After showing signs of improvement in the 1-1 draw with Leicester City last week it seemed that the Hammers had reverted to the bad habits that had seen Slaven Bilic lose his job, making it far too easy for Everton to play football by dropping back and allowing the likes of Rooney time on the ball.
By the time they had their first real spell of the match early in the second-half they already had too much to do to overturn their deficit – although Lanzini spurned a glorious chance to pull a goal back.
It was a match that the Hammers would have seen as an extremely winnable one considering the Toffees’ recent form, but instead it was served to show once again the size of the task at hand for Moyes.
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