West Ham move into the top six of the Premier League table as Angelo Ogbonna’s header gives the Hammers a hard-fought 1-0 win over Everton.
It looked like neither side would break each other down in a war of attrition at Goodison Park, but Ogbonna rose highest to nod in a corner in the 74th minute to hand West Ham an important three points to bolster their hopes of a top six finish this season.
The result means West Ham leapfrog four clubs into sixth place. Everton, meanwhile, drop down into seventh also on 14 points.
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West Ham had over 80 per cent possession in a sleepy opening to the game, but it was Everton who would have the best chance to take the lead just before the half-hour mark when Alex Iwobi failed to turn home Demarai Gray's low cross from point-blank range. He completely missed the ball and it rolled through his legs.
The visitors grew into the game as the half progressed and thought they took the lead five minutes later. Tomas Soucek tapped in a rebound from a driven strike by Jarrod Bowen, which was tipped into the Czech Republic international's path by Jordan Pickford, but he was standing in an offside position and it was subsequently ruled out.
Aside from Salomon Rondon narrowly flicking a header past the post in the 52nd minute, the second half was similarly slow to get going, but West Ham did eventually break the deadlock late on thanks to Ogbonna.
The Italian rose ahead of Godfrey and nodded into the far corner beyond Pickford for his first Premier League goal of the season.
West Ham who almost extended their lead two minutes from time through Jarrod Bowen, but his curled strike looking for the top corner was parried over the bar by Pickford.
Everton failed to really test Lukasz Fabianski as they looked for an equaliser at the other end, but in injury-time Gray had a first-time shot from just inside the area that was seemingly destined for the bottom corner, forcing Kurt Zouma to make a vital sliding block.
TALKING POINT – Everton's 100 per cent home record ends
Rafael Benitez went into the game with a 100 per cent win record at home as Everton boss, but they produced a flat display against a West Ham side who were defensively well organised and scored through a familiar route to goal; a set-piece.
Everton threatened mainly down the flanks going forward, but West Ham’s staunch backline was attentive throughout and arguably just about deserved to win what was ultimately a very tight, cagey contest.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Andros Townsend
He may well have been on the losing side, but the majority of Everton's attacks were started by Townsend, who showed once again that he is enjoying playing under Benitez on the right flank. He produced a number of dangerous crosses into the box and, should he remain injury-free, will continue to form a dangerous partnership with Rondon.
Everton: Pickford (7), Coleman (6), Godfrey (4), Keane (6), Digne (5), Townsend (8), Doucoure (6), Allan (5), Iwobi (6), Gray (6), Rondon (6)
Subs: Gordon (N/A)
West Ham: Fabianski (6), Johnson (6), Zouma (6), Ogbonna (7), Cresswell (7), Soucek (6), Rice (6), Bowen (7), Fornals (6), Benrahma (5), Antonio (5)
Subs: Dawson (N/A), Lanzini (N/A), Yarmolenko (N/A)
29' - BIG MISS! Gray's drives a low ball across the goalmouth and it finds Iwobi who simply had to turn it home, but he misses the ball and it rolls through his legs! The best goalscoring opportunity of the match so far has passed Iwobi by!
35' - NO GOAL! Benrahma sprints past Allan and drills a ball into Soucek. He lays it off to Bowen but his driven strike is very well saved low down by Pickford! Soucek taps in the rebound but he was offside to the relief of the Everton supporters.
52' - BIG CHANCE! Townsend's cross is a brilliant. He curls it perfectly onto the head of Rondon who flicks it just wide of the post!
74' - GOAL!! OGBONNA SCORES A HEADER FROM A CORNER FOR WEST HAM! The corner floated into the box finds Ogbonna at the near post and he gets ahead of Godfrey and nods into the far corner beyond Pickford. West Ham lead thanks to Ogbonna's first Premier League goal of the season!
90+1' - VITAL BLOCK! Coleman's cross finds Gray and his first-time shot from just inside the area is heading for the bottom corner, but Zouma make a vital sliding block to stop it from finding the net!
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