Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Toffees take points from Hammers

Everton had to come from behind to beat West Ham

Referee Anthony Taylor was the pantomime villain in West Ham and Everton's final match before Christmas as two needless red cards spoilt the latter's 2-1 victory at Upton Park.

Taylor all but handed the Toffees three points and a place back in the top four after controversially deciding Carlton Cole had left his foot in on Leighton Baines midway through the second half. The official evened up the red-card count in stoppage-time, finding Darron Gibson guilty of a similar offence, having earlier angered Everton by chalking off Leon Osman's early header.

Cole gave West Ham a half-time lead and Victor Anichebe marked his Everton recall with his first goal for three months three minutes before Cole saw red, with Steven Pienaar making the man advantage count six minutes later.

In the opening 10 minutes, Baines delivered a free-kick but the unmarked Sylvain Distin nodded it into the ground and over the crossbar.

Baines produced another special three minutes later for Osman's disallowed goal, his corner headed home by one of the smallest players on the pitch but ruled out seemingly for Anichebe's block on Jussi Jaaskelainen.

The Everton players were furious and their ire only increased when Cole fired West Ham in front two minutes later, the striker cutting inside the recalled Johnny Heitinga far too easily before cracking in a low drive from the edge of the box.

Gibson curled a free-kick narrowly wide after the break and Everton continued to probe, prompting West Ham boss Sam Allardyce to replace Gary O'Neil with Modibo Maiga just before the hour mark, a move that almost paid off immediately when the Malian scuffed Cole's cross wide.

And that was when it all went horribly wrong. Maiga got himself booked for pushing Pienaar over in the 64th minute and, from the resultant free-kick, the ball was worked left to the South African, whose cross was glanced home brilliantly by Anichebe.

Three minutes later, Taylor made a the call that swung the game as Cole hung his leg out in a bid to control a dropping ball and definitely made contact with Baines but it looked anything but a reckless lunge. To Cole's horror, Taylor thought otherwise, brandishing a straight red card.

The momentum was all with Everton and they completed their comeback six minutes later, Osman's cross inadvertently played against Pienaar by Kevin Nolan before trickling into the net. And Gibson then saw red for an almost identical challenge to Cole's on Mark Noble at the death.

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