McAuley header not enough for Baggies
- McAuley opened scoring after nine minutes
- Mirallas equalised for Toffees in first-half injury time
- Barry heads winner on the hour mark
- Guochuan Lai attends first Baggies match
ALBION couldn't quite manage the victory they craved to welcome prospective owner Guochuan Lai to The Hawthorns for his first Premier League game.
The Baggies slipped to a 2-1 defeat as the Toffees fought back to claim all three points thanks to goals from Kevin Mirallas and Gareth Barry after Gareth McAuley had given Tony Pulis’ side an early advantage with a towering header.
Salomon Rondon could have opened the scoring just moments before McAuley headed home but the Venezuelan saw his close range effort palmed away for a corner by Maarten Stekelenburg.
From the resulting set-piece the Baggies number 23 rose highest at the back post and nodded the hosts into a ninth-minute lead.
Everton had chances to equalise through Barry who saw his weak strike from the edge of the penalty area comfortably stopped by Ben Foster and then Leighton Baines’ 25-yard free-kick sailed over the bar.
The left-back’s opportunity came three minutes after Ronald Koeman made a tactical change, introducing former Albion forward Romelu Lukaku and swapping to a 4-3-3 formation.
From that point the visitors looked more threatening and deservedly drew level in added time when Mirallas played a one-two with Ross Barkley and swept the ball into the far corner.
Darren Fletcher had a great opportunity to restore Albion’s lead in the 49th minute but Stekelenburg denied him with a fine save.
Everton made that count on the hour by taking the lead when Barry headed in from a yard out after Mason Holgate’s half volley bounced across goal.
Foster made two impressive stops to thwart Lukaku and then the ‘keeper shot wide with the last kick of the game having ventured forward to try and rescue a point.
Albion: Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson, Evans; Gardner (McClean 64), Fletcher (c), Yacob, Phillips (Leko 64); Rondon, Berahino (Lambert 78).
Subs: Myhill; Morrison, Field, Wilson.
Booked: Berahino (foul, 26), Olsson (foul, 59).
Everton: Stekelenburg, Holgate, Jagielka (c), Funes Mori; Baines, McCarthy (Lukaku 37), Barry, Gueye; Mirallas (Williams 81), Barkley; Deulofeu (Bolasie 61).
Subs: Robles; Lennon, Cleverley, Oviedo.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick