Premier League - West Ham cancel out Everton

Tue, 28 Dec 19:32:00 2010

West Ham remain in the Premier League relegation zone after drawing 1-1 with Everton at Upton Park.

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In a match of minimal quality, a Tony Hibbert own-goal gave West Ham the lead on 16 minutes, before Seamus Coleman equalised from close range three minutes before half-time.

David Moyes solved the problem of his misfiring strikers by not picking any. Louis Saha, Ayegbeni Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford were all consigned to the bench as Tim Cahill played up front with Marouane Fellaini in support.

While Cahill does not exactly thrive as a target man, he has performed the role successfully, and it allowed for a fluid formation with any of four players breaking forward from midfield, causing West Ham problems with their marking.

The visitors made much the stronger start, dominating possession without carving out any clear-cut chances.

West Ham went in front against the run of play. Tim Howard palmed away James Tomkins's header from a corner but Radoslav Kovac played the ball back in and Hibbert deflected the ball into his own net.

Everton came roaring back, but most of their first-half chances fell to the unlikely figure of Sylvain Distin, who dragged a shot wide from a tight angle, before heading wide and having a volley deflected over - although the officials wrongly awarded a goal-kick.

West Ham threatened at the other end, as Freddie Sears raced down the right and sent in a dangerous low cross, and Scott Parker sent an ambitious long-range chip just over.

But the visitors got the equaliser their efforts deserved three minutes before the break when Cahill crossed from the left to the unmarked Coleman, who drilled the ball low past Robert Green.

The second half was an unedifying spectacle, despite the rewards that victory would have brought - Everton would have risen four places to move into the top half.

But it was stodgy, disjointed stuff with neither side able to lift the mood with a moment of quality.

Only late on did things liven up, with Scott Parker producing a sensational last-ditch tackle to deny substitute Yakubu, while Marouane Fellaini and Cahill both tested Green from set pieces.

At the other end Carlton Cole had the best chance to win it for the Hammers, as Sears raced clear on the break and crossed for the striker, who miscued his shot badly.

In stoppage time, Howard was lucky to escape punishment for a bizarre excursion from his box in which he appeared to commit two fouls, but referee Howard Webb saw nothing wrong.

But a draw was the right result inasmuch as nobody deserved to win. Neither manager will be particularly happy either with the result or the performance. 

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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