Belfast Telegraph

Romelu Lukaku goes level in golden boot hunt as Everton cruise against West Brom

Romelu Lukaku drew level with Harry Kane in the race for the Premier League's golden boot as Everton coasted against West Brom for their fifth straight home Premier League win.

The Belgian followed up first-half goals from Kevin Mirallas and Morgan Schneiderlin with a 19th of the campaign, and a seventh in his last five, to secure a 3-0 victory over the Baggies.

Ronald Koeman's side have now not dropped a point at Goodison Park since a loss to rivals Liverpool prior to Christmas after this success over a West Brom team only one place beneath them in the table, but a class below here.

With Tottenham in FA Cup action this weekend, Lukaku had the chance to join Kane at the top of the division's scorers chart.

Opportunity knocked when Gareth Barry rolled a pass into the big Belgian in the 16th minute yet for once Lukaku put his shot the wrong side of the post, as he did when he rose to meet a Leighton Baines cross moments later.

The visitors had not threatened a back line featuring Phil Jagielka as a starter for the first time in 2017 until six minutes before the break when Nacer Chadli's effort from distance was tipped around the post by Joel Robles.

At the other end the weak link in the Baggies' defence had looked like being Allan Nyom and it was in the left-back's vicinity where the move for the hosts' opener emerged.

Lukaku drifted out to the right and saw his pass inside ricochet off a couple of Baggies defenders before falling to Ross Barkley, and though his shot was parried by Ben Foster, Mirallas reacted quickest to apply the finish.

That was quickly added to by a second before the break as Koeman's side entered the interval in charge.

Again it stemmed from Lukaku's inkling to come out to the right and this time he turned inside, fended off Jonny Evans and slipped in Schneiderlin to take a touch beyond Jake Livermore before clipping beyond Foster.

His maiden Everton goal, and his first in 511 days, made the interval all the sweeter for the home support, including boxer Tony Bellew, who came on to the pitch to receive a round of applause from his fellow Evertonians a week on from his victory over David Haye.

It was at the mid-point of that bout that the advantage turned in Bellew's favour when Haye picked up an injury, though there was little chance of a similarly-timed momentum swing for the Baggies despite Baines' withdrawal ahead of the second half.

And Chadli's shot which was spilled out by Robles and cleared by Ashley Williams was all the Baggies could muster up.

The tepid pace did give Tom Davies and Barkley a chance to shine in front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate, and the latter could have furthered his case had his twisting and turning culminated in anything other than a shot into the side netting.

However, there was still time for him to make the highlights package when he delivered the back-post cross that Lukaku nodded home in the 82nd minute as Nyom once again lost his man.

Substitute Idrissa Gueye was denied a fourth by the woodwork and this was as comfortable and routine as Koeman could have hoped for.

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