Leighton Baines' double delights Moyes... but not his hair
Published 31/01/2013 | 08:00
Everton 2 West Bromwich Albion 1: Leighton Baines may be playing with an ankle injury but he continues to sparkle as the Everton full-back scored two goals to further enhance his side's chances of a top-four finish as they overcame a below-par West Bromwich Albion.
The Everton defender must surely be pushing for a regular starting spot in the England line-up ahead of Ashley Cole and his effort will certainly do no harm.
Baines scored a superb opener in the 29th-minute before showing his pedigree from the penalty spot yet again just before the break to give Everton the goals that moved them within a point of fourth-placed Tottenham in the race for Champions League qualification.
Albion substitute Shane Long did pull one back for the visitors but it would have been unjust on the hosts had they not taken the three points.
The Everton manager, David Moyes, was keen to praise his match-winner even if his hairstyle is not to his liking.
"He keeps getting better when teams try to stop him as he works on how to alter doing things. He is a great player," Moyes enthused. "He is great for a manager as he wants to get better himself, we are very fortunate to have him here.
"He has played through with an ankle problem which is a credit to him. He has the determination and he is turning out to be as good a left-back as there is.
"He is a really good footballer, intelligent. Don't know if I like his style of hair but apart from that I think he is alright."
Baines opened the scoring after coasting past two defenders when Leon Osman played him in and he found the top corner with a powerful, yet accurate effort.
Albion were struggling and it got worse when Claudio Yacob, who had just replaced George Thorne four minutes earlier, took down Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar in the box two minutes into stoppage time and Baines stepped up to get his sixth goal of the season.
Long came off the bench to force a nervy finish when he pounced following John Heitinga's failed clearance from a scuffed Romelu Lukaku effort in the 65th minute.
But West Bromwich are still without a win since Boxing Day and more worrying for manager Steve Clarke is that midfielder Thorne's injury may force a late delve into the transfer market as he also battles to keep Peter Odemwingie on deadline day, with Queen's Park Rangers looking to take the forward to London.
"We have only got one day to do it [bring a player in]. It was never in my plan to bring new faces in this window," claimed Clarke.
"We will hopefully have a late-night meeting or early-morning one to discuss it and the best way forward for the club. That is a result of George's injury.
"I have not spoken to anybody about Peter," he added. "We have had no other bids for him. This is the last day so any movement in or out would seem to be highly unlikely. But you never know."
Man of the match Baines.
Match rating 6/10.
Referee M Oliver (Northumberland).