Ronald Koeman hails 'important' player Ross Barkley after Everton beat West Ham
Everton boss Ronald Koeman was full of praise for Ross Barkley after the Toffees midfielder shone in Sunday's 2-0 win over West Ham.
Barkley has had his troubles this term, losing his place in the England squad and being substituted by Koeman at half-time at Sunderland in September, with the Dutchman afterwards making it clear he wanted the 22-year-old to raise his game.
But he was in fine form against the Hammers, capping a very lively display by striking home the second goal in the 76th minute from a cross delivered by Romelu Lukaku, whose header had made it 1-0 five minutes after the break.
Koeman said of Barkley's performance following the match at Goodison Park: "I think it was one of his best of this season.
"He was working hard, he was tackling offensively, and he was important in the game.
"(West Ham goalkeeper) Adrian made an incredible save (to deny Barkley) in the first half, and then he scored the second goal.
"He was really the player between the defence and the front to create, and that is what you like to see."
Lukaku's goal - a close-range conversion of a tee-up from Yannick Bolasie, who had reacted well to send the loose ball across to him when Adrian parried a Seamus Coleman shot - kept up his remarkable scoring record against West Ham.
The Belgium striker has a goal a game in appearances for Everton against West Ham - a run that which has now extended to nine matches.
And Koeman, whose sixth-placed side registered their first win in five Premier League outings, said of the effort that took Lukaku to seven club goals this season: "You have to recognise the work of Bolasie to give the assist.
"And if you have players like Romelu, if he gets that chance he will score.
"Sometimes it is difficult to explain why you have a row of scoring goals against a certain opponent.
"But he showed today he is a fantastic striker and a very important goalscorer for the team."
West Ham, looking to end a week marred by Wednesday's crowd trouble at the London Stadium on a high, had spells in the contest when they exerted considerable pressure.
Giving his analysis, boss Slaven Bilic said: "Harsh (result)? No. Of course, we are disappointed.
"I am not saying they (Everton) didn't deserve it. They were more lethal, or more mature or more cruel - when they were offered something by us, they took it straight away, which we didn't do when we created or they made mistakes. Credit to them, and we knew they have a good side.
"But there is a bitter taste because we should have taken something out of this game, definitely.
"I had a feeling before the game and at half-time as well that it was there. But they deserve it, because they did it."
West Ham, who had won back-to-back league games prior to this, remained 16th, three points above the relegation zone.