Gareth Barry was Everton’s unlikely hero as they produced a fine display to beat West Brom at The Hawthorns.
I was Ronald Koeman’s first Premier League victory as Everton manager and it came in front of new WBA owner Guochaun Lai.
Lai, who heads the Chinese investment group which at the beginning of this month completed its takeover of the club, saw his team make the perfect start to their home campaign as Gareth McAuley headed Albion into an early lead.
However, goals from Kevin Mirallas and Gareth Barry either side of half-time saw Koeman claim his first three-point haul as Toffees boss after drawing 1-1 at home to Tottenham on the opening day.
West Brom’s opening goal came after eight minutes following some good forward play from Salomon Rondon. The Venezuela international used his strength to hold off Ramiro Funes Mori and control Craig Gardner’s long ball into the box before getting off a shot that Maarten Stekelenburg did well to come out and block.
From the resulting corner, an inswinger from Gardner, McAuley jumped highest between Mirallas and Phil Jagielka to head home at the far post from two yards out.
Everton struggled to muster a response until midway through the first half when a low cross from Leighton Baines found Barry arriving just inside the penalty area but he swept his shot tamely at Ben Foster.
As the half-hour mark approached former Albion loanee Romelu Lukaku received a warm round of applause from some of the home fans as he warmed up down the touchline and after 37 minutes he was on the pitch, brought on in place of James McCarthy in what looked like a tactical switch by Koeman.
Lukaku was not directly involved but the switch did quickly bring a reward as Everton equalised in the final minute of the half. A lovely one-touch passing move started by Mirallas just outside the penalty area and involving Barry and Ross Barkley was given the finish it deserved by the little Belgian when he beat Foster with a low shot from 12 yards out.
The second half began with a series of chances for either side to take the lead – before Everton eventually obliged on the hour.
West Brom would have regained the advantage had Stekelenburg not stuck out his right foot to block Darren Fletcher’s shot from inside the box while Foster kept the scores level as he instinctively blocked Gerard Deulofeu’s prod goalwards following an Everton corner.
Back at the other end, Gardner curled a free-kick narrowly wide before Foster had to push away a Funes Mori header.
From the resulting corner, Mason Holgate’s scuffed volley looped towards the far post where Barry, on his 100th Premier League appearance for the Toffees, headed the ball home from almost the exact position where McAuley had previously scored for West Brom.
Barkley should have extended the lead after 72 minutes but he powered a near-post header wide from a pin-point cross from substitute Yannick Bolasie, making his debut following his reported £25million arrival from Crystal Palace this week.
Lukaku was denied a late goal by Foster on his return when through on the home goalkeeper while a last-gasp chance to earn a point was put over the crossbar by Rondon.