A much improved all-round team performance spectacularly highlighted by a Wayne Rooney hat trick and Jordan Pickford penalty save gave David Unsworth the perfect ending to his time as interim manager of the club he loves.
The final game in charge for David Unsworth pitched him up against the manager for whom he scored the first goal of his tenure as Everton manager, David Moyes. With newly appointed Sam Allardyce in the Main Stand, Rhino selected his last starting line-up: Pickford, Martina, Holgate, Williams, Kenny, Davies, Gueye, Lennon, Sigurdsson, Rooney (c) and Calvert-Lewin.
Moyes, on his third return to Goodison since leaving four and a half seasons ago, came looking to pile even more pressure on the Blues in opting for: Hart, Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Kouyate, Obiang, Arnautovic, Lanzini, Masuaku and Ayew.
Referee was this vital ‘six-pointer’ was Michael Oliver.
A very quiet opening between two sides low on confidence and patently aware of the stakes saw a lot of long ball and precious little to get remotely excited about.
Rooney was noticeably dropping deep from the first few minutes with DCL leading the line with Sigurdsson and Lennon wide left and right respectively.
Neither side seemed capable of stringing more than two or three passes together and it wasn’t till the 15th minute that either goalie was troubled, Pickford diving to easily claim a cross from Zabaleta played in down the visitors right flank by Lanzini.
It was Everton though who opened the scoring with an 18th minute penalty. Rooney won the ball and quickly found Sigurddson who turned sweetly to release DCL into the box where the onrushing Hart was beaten to the ball but he clipped the legs and referee Oliver had no choice. Hart wasn’t even booked and then parried the spot kick from Rooney who was alert to nod home the rebound.
The goal settled Everton and DCL was causing Ogbonna no end of trouble, leading the line effectively. Zabaleta was booked on 26 minutes for a foul on Sigurdsson and a minute later Everton doubled their lead with a lovely flowing move.
Kenny won the ball just inside his own half and played a lovely one-two with Lennon before releasing Davies out wide on the right, he picked out a super cross behind the retreating defenders for Rooney to run onto and side foot home easily.
Sigurdsson picked up a yellow card for a block on Arnautovic ahead of the Blues calling for a second penalty when DCL went down under a challenge from Zabaleta.
Everton survived a slightly hairy minute following a West Ham corner, but went to the locker room for the half time cup of team and slice of orange with a deserved lead.
It hadn’t been vintage, entertaining football, but the crowd appreciated the improved effort throughout the team with Rooney at the heart of everything.
Half Time: 2-0
West Ham made a change bringing Sakho on for Obiang and it seemed to work as they dominated the opening ten minutes of the second half, peppering the Everton area with crosses.
Introducing the Everton Mishmash!
Pickford punched away a long range effort from Lanzini and the follow up shot skimmed the Everton crossbar. Davies was booked for a tough challenge.
West Ham were awarded a 58th minute penalty and Jordan Pickford flung himself low to his right to brilliantly turn away Lanzinis’ powerful spot kick.
Antonio replaced Arnautovic just past the hour mark before an absolutely sensational hat trick goal from Wayne Rooney. A long ball for DCL saw Hart coming rushing out of his area to clear but the ball fell sweetly for Rooney inside his own half and his brilliant first time effort completed a magnificent treble on 66 minutes.
Another flowing Everton move involving Sigurdsson, Lennon, Davies and Kenny led to a 77th minute corner from which Williams planted a firm header from the Sigurddson cross across the face of goal and beyond a despairing Hart.
Rooney left the pitch to a deserved standing ovation on 84 minutes to be replaced by Beni Baningime and four minutes later the industrious Aaron Lennon also got the standing acclaim when replaced by Ademola Lookman, and the crowd were again on their appreciative feet when Nikola Vlasic came on for DCL.
There were no more fireworks, but Goodison rightly rose at the final whistle to acclaim without a doubt the best performance of the season, with a tremendous cheer for last off the pitch, badge thumping David Unsworth.
Full Time: 4-0
Many of the woes that have beset Everton this season were put to one side as after a slow start and a nervy opening quarter hour of the second half, Everton played some good football and thoroughly deserved the three points.
For the first time this season, it’s great to post that nobody in blue played poorly and whilst Wayne Rooney will likely walk the Man of the Match, all the players deserve praise for a great effort.