Everton striker Wayne Rooney dedicated the 4-0 win over West Ham to caretaker boss David Unsworth as incoming manager Sam Allardyce watched on from the stands.
Rooney scored a hat-trick at Goodison Park, including a stunning strike from inside his own half, to help secure just their second win in 13 outings in all competitions.
Unsworth seemingly took charge for the final time against the Hammers with Allardyce set to complete a deal to become Everton’s new manager imminently.
Former England boss Allardyce is due to be in the hotseat for the first time against Huddersfield on Saturday but Rooney thanked ex-Everton full-back Unsworth for his efforts.
“I’m sure we’ll enjoy tonight, but first of all we’ve got to give thanks to David Unsworth,” Rooney told BT Sport.
“He’s stepped in at a difficult time for the football club, he’s a true Everton person.
“I’m delighted for him we’ve got this victory because it’s an important win for the club but also for David Unsworth.”
Everton are now up to 13th while West Ham remain in the drop zone, two points adrift of safety.
On Allardyce, Rooney added: “Of course he’ll be pleased, but for us as a team, as a club, it was important for us to show some pride. As David Unsworth said, we’ve been hurting.
“It was important we got a clean sheet first of all, it has been long overdue, but (also) a victory to try and steady the last few weeks we’ve been going through.”
Rooney scored two goals in 10 first-half minutes to ease any nerves and then added his third in the 66th minute from 60 yards.
With Joe Hart well out of his net after a low clearance, Rooney rolled back the years to fire home a sweet strike before Ashley Williams rounded off the win late on.
Asked if he has ever scored a better goal than the one which clinched his treble, Rooney said: “I don’t think so.
“It’s one of, if not, the best goal I’ve scored. I hit it as well as I’ve ever kicked a football. To make it my first hat-trick for Everton, I’m delighted.”
Rooney said he had not yet had chance to speak to Allardyce but Unsworth revealed he has already had a 15-minute chat with the former Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn manager.
Unsworth said: “We just spoke about the season really, a couple of things, but we had a great session last night and the players have performed.”
He added: “I’m staying on as under-23s manager, which was my role six weeks ago and it will be my role tomorrow morning.
“It’s not about me, I’m just delighted for our football club tonight, it’s a proud night for everybody connected with the club and a much-needed win.”
West Ham actually began the second half well and Aaron Cresswell rattled the crossbar just after half-time.
The visitors had a better chance to cut the deficit with the scores at 2-0 but Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Lanzini’s penalty after Ashley Williams brought down Diafra Sakho in the box.
“There were some decisive moments,” said West Ham boss David Moyes on his return to Goodison Park. “Our missed penalty in the second half changed it in their favour.
“I think there were some moments where we can say we improved, but we didn’t enjoy what we saw in the first half.”