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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:53 31st March 2012

GOALS either side of the break from Leon Osman and Victor Anichebe sentenced the below-par Baggies to a third defeat of the season against Everton.

The hosts shaded a drab first-half and although they deserved their interval lead, Osman's 18th-minute opener came courtesy of a huge deflection off the luckless Gareth McAuley.

Albion created very few chances of their own and fell further behind on 69 when sub Anichebe, who hit Everton's late winner at The Hawthorns three months ago, scored from 20 yards.

The result made it three wins in a week for David Moyes' resurgent side while the visitors have now gone four games without a victory.

Albion were aiming to beat Everton at the third time of asking this term, having been knocked out of the Carling Cup on Merseyside in September and suffered a late defeat at The Hawthorns on New Year's Day.

The Baggies, who did the double over the Toffees last season, made four changes, with skipper Chris Brunt, Paul Scharner, Somen Tchoyi and Shane Long coming into a 4-4-2 formation, replacing the injured James Morrison, Youssouf Mulumbu, Jerome Thomas and Marc-Antoine Fortune.

Ninth entertained 14th at Goodison Park, with the two teams separated by only four points.

Everton, fresh from their FA Cup quarter-final success at Sunderland on Tuesday, started brightly and, with less than two minutes on the clock, Osman flashed a header wide from Leighton Baines' left-wing cross.

The early pressure continued and Darron Gibson shot just over from 20 yards in the fifth minute, although Ben Foster had it covered.

But Albion remained solid and gradually got a foothold in the game.

However, they were indebted to an important block by Scharner in the 15th minute, which prevented Nikica Jelavic's 15-yard snapshot troubling Foster's goal.

An Everton goal did arrive on 18, courtesy of a huge slice of luck. Osman exchanged a clever one-two with Jelavic on the edge of the Baggies box before seeing his left-footed shot take a huge deflection off McAuley and fly past the wrong-footed Foster.

Albion regrouped but struggled to get any change out of Everton's well-drilled rearguard.

But the Baggies suddenly came to life in the 28th minute and almost equalised. Scharner burst into the box and forced a fine save out of Tim Howard with a fierce 15-yard drive. The ball squirmed agonisingly across the six-yard box, just out of Long's reach, and Brunt's goalbound follow-up agonisingly hit Long and flew wide.

Just a minute later, Albion had Foster to thank for keeping the deficit to a single goal. Marouane Fellaini beat Peter Odemwingie to a loose ball and had an awkward 20-yard drive brilliantly pushed away, at full stretch, by the Baggies' No.1.

Albion went close again on 35 went Baines' outstretched boot just beat Scharner's head to Liam Ridgewell's terrific centre, thus denying the Austrian a clear goalscoring chance.

Back came Everton and, in the 38th minute, Steven Pienaar had Billy Jones back-tracking before dragging a 20-yard effort wide of the near post.

Apart from two wayward Odemwingie and Tchoyi efforts, Peter Walton, officiating his final Barclays Premier League game before moving to the United States to oversee the MLS referees, created the only other incident of note - by falling head over heels in the middle of the park!

Everton, who replaced Osman with Magaye Gueye at half-time, threatened first after the restart when Fellaini fired wide from the edge of the box.

Both teams took their time to get going after the break but it was the hosts who recorded the next effort at goal, when Jelavic directed an acute header straight at Foster from Baines' delivery.

Albion turned defence into attack with a great effect on 58, but Keith Andrews blazed Odemwingie's lay-off wide from 20 yards.

The dearth of goalscoring chances continued until the 67th minute, when Jelavic failed to trouble Foster's goal from a dangerously-placed 20-yard free-kick.

However, moments later, Phil Jagielka had to be at his composed best to prevent Long getting on the end of Andrews' cleverly-chipped through-ball.

But Everton surged straight upfield and added a 69th-minute second.

Pienaar drove at the heart of the Albion defence before teeing up sub Anichebe, who gave Foster no chance with a perfectly-placed 20-yard drive, which flew in off the far post.

Albion pushed for a lifeline but could easily have fallen three behind on 74 when Jelavic put Pienaar in the clear. The South African was denied by Foster's terrific block just inside the box.

There was a nervy moment at the other end when Howard's attempted punch clearance fell to Odemwingie, who saw his 15-yard drive deflected into the side-netting by John Heitinga.

Albion kept going and sub Fortune stung Howard's hands with a fierce drive from the edge of the box.

But it was Everton who twice went close to troubling the scoreline during the dying stages.

Foster, who again impressed throughout, had the easy task of collecting Jelavic's soft effort from Anichebe's square pass.

But the on-loan Blues man had to make a far better save to keep out Toffees sub Gueye's close-range snapshot.

EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard; Hibbert, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines; Osman (Gueye HT), Gibson, Fellaini, Pienaar; Cahill (Anichebe 62), Jelavic (McFadden 87). Subs not used: Mucha (gk), Stracqualursi, Duffy, Neville.

ALBION (4-4-2): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Tchoyi (Fortune 73), Scharner (Dorrans 67), Andrews, Brunt (Cox 77); Odemwingie, Long. Subs not used: L Daniels (gk), Shorey, Mulumbu, Dawson.

GOALS: EVERTON - Osman (18), Anichebe (69).

BOOKINGS: EVERTON - Jelavic (foul 55), Cahill (foul 60). ALBION - Olsson (foul 65).

REFEREE: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

ATTENDANCE: 32,051.

ALBION STARMAN: Ben Foster.
    Data provided by Press Association

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