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Romelu Lukaku’s double helps Everton to beat West Brom from behind

Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku scores his second and Everton’s third at West Brom to complete his side’s first comeback victory from a two-goal deficit away from home since 1985. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku was greeted with warm applause by the West Bromwich Albionsupporters before kick-off in recognition of his prolific service when on loan from Chelsea. He returned the compliment by prising a first home league win of the season from the grasp of Tony Pulis’s side and inspiring Everton to a remarkable victory.

There are no favours in the Premier League.

Everton were two goals down and second best when Lukaku scored 27 seconds after Craig Dawson had appeared to put the contest beyond them. It proved a turning point. The Belgium international followed with an assist for Arouna Koné before completing Everton’s first victory from a two-goal deficit away from home since 1985.

Both Lukaku goals stemmed from superb crosses from Gerard Deulofeu on the right while, in an inexperienced and makeshift Everton defence, the 19-year-old Brendan Galloway excelled. The positives and the performance were thoroughly unexpected after a flat opening from Roberto Martínez’s team.

“Rom was a completely different player in the second half,” said the Everton manager. “The overall performance of the team in the first half was a little bit off. We were sloppy and sluggish. We didn’t react quick enough. But we reset at half-time and Rom, like every player, had a different intensity in the second half. Rom has the unique strength of being the man the team needs. He has an elite brain. When he puts his mind to it he can achieve anything.”

With Lukaku’s mind on taking his tally to six goals in all competitions this season Everton delivered a win that will massage confidence before Sunday’s Merseyside derby. It also demonstrated the improved resources at Martínez’s disposal with Koné and Darron Gibson impressing off the bench and several youngsters producing mature displays.

For Pulis, however, his first managerial defeat from a two-goal lead was hard to take. Saido Berahino’s clinical opener was the only quality on show before the interval. Dawson’s header should have been the cue for victory but his team switched off and threw Everton a lifeline. “We were still celebrating without concentrating,” he said of Lukaku’s swift response.

Pulis added sourly: “We had good chances before our second goal but after that we switched off. It didn’t help that we lost Gareth McAuley to injury yesterday and Jonas Olsson after about 15 minutes. Their second goal was offside. Marginal but off, and I’m told Lukaku handled the ball in the build-up to their third. They’ve had the fortune and we haven’t.”

Albion’s confidence was high following last Saturday’s cherished win at Aston Villa, where Berahino had reintegrated himself in the best way possible with the winning goal, and they were offered encouragement by an inexperienced Everton defence. John Stones’s failure to recover from a knee injury sustained in the Capital One Cup victory at Reading meant a full Premier League debut for Ramiro Funes Mori, the £9.5m signing from River Plate.

It was the first time Martínez had started without his dependable axis of Stones and Phil Jagielka since a 5-2 defeat at Dynamo Kyiv in March and, with Seamus Coleman also failing to recover from a hamstring problem, Tyias Browning made only the second league start of his Everton career. “Only Phil Jagielka and Tim Howard were the two left to give any direction to the youngsters,” said Martínez. “It was incredible the way they coped. Brendan Galloway made a tackle in the second half [on Berahino] that was the difference between losing and winning this game.”

Funes Mori started well only for the Argentinian’s composure to desert him during a careless spell before half-time. After embarking on a long run out of defence the 24-year-old lost possession to Dawson and Gareth Barry compounded Everton’s problems with a loose ball inside that picked out James Morrison. The Scotland international threaded a perfect pass into Berahino’s darting run into the Everton area and Howard was powerless to prevent a first-time shot finding the net.

More slack defending presented Albion with a second goal shortly after the restart. Both Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher were granted free headers from a Berahino corner and, though the latter’s diving effort was heading harmlessly wide, the visitors’ defence cleared for another corner from the right. This time Chris Brunt delivered an inswinger, Dawson lost the over-employed Jagielka at the back post and steered a textbook header down and beyond Howard.

Albion celebrations were still in full flow when Lukaku hauled Everton back into the game with a towering header. The centre-forward had been on the margins on his return to the club where he scored 17 goals in the 2012-13 season but rose above the substitute James Chester to steer an excellent Deulofeu delivery past Boaz Myhill.

Lukaku created what should have been a decent opening for James McCarthy when he threaded a pass into the midfielder’s run into the box. The Republic of Ireland international took possession but also a pathetic dive over a non-existent challenge from Craig Gardner to earn a booking. The thoughts of the watching Ireland management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane would have been illuminating. Martínez said: “I think James was expecting a challenge that didn’t happen. I don’t encourage my players to do that but mistakes happen. The referee handled it well.”

By now Lukaku had become the game’s dominant force. Turning away from two Albion defenders, the Belgian picked out Koné with another perfectly weighted pass into the area. This time the Everton player elected to stay on his feet and gave Myhill no chance with a powerful finish from close range. With six minutes remaining Deulofeu sent over another tempting cross and Lukaku stole in ahead of Chester again to beat Myhill at the second attempt. Rickie Lambert should have levelled in the dying moments but the former Liverpool striker shot wide from 12 yards. The comeback could not be contained.-the guardian-

 

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