West Bromwich Albion v Everton
West Brom unveiled a new manager, Romelu Lukaku revealed a new hairstyle - but both sides had to settle for a point.
Everton took the lead in Baggies boss Pepe Mel's first game in the first half through Kevin Mirallas’ well-taken strike, only for Diego Lugano to equalise for the home side with 15 minutes to go after a period of pressure.
The point means Everton remain in sixth place at the top of a congested Premier League table.
It was the newly-shorn Lukaku who had the evening’s first attempt on goal when he ran onto a fine long pass from Sylvain Distin but lifted his shot over Ben Foster and wide of the target.
At the other end Matej Vydra’s low cross needed a full length intervention from a diving Tim Howard to prevent an opportunity for James Morrison, but by and large the home side struggled to make early inroads into a well-organised Everton rearguard.
The Toffees, meanwhile, were probing with regularity. A Leighton Baines free-kick was headed clear and volleyed narrowly wide by Bryan Oviedo and the Costa Rican then came even closer on 12 minutes when he controlled a Lukaku pass and pulled a low effort inches wide.
Next to try his luck was James McCarthy whose first-time snapshot from the edge of the box was straight into the arms of Foster. The opening period wasn’t without spells of scrappy play from both sides but Everton continued to look the more likely and the Baggies needed a block from Chris Brunt to keep out an angled drive from Seamus Coleman.
The opening goal came four minutes before the break. Distin lofted the ball down the left, Lukaku won his aerial battle and Mirallas kept his feet and his composure to slide the ball past Foster.
The appearance for the second half of Albion substitute Victor Anichebe brought generous applause from the travelling Toffees but their warmth almost turned to horror when the striker turned an Anelka cross from close range straight at Howard.
Everton didn’t offer the same level of attacking threat after the restart and it was 60 minutes before the first effort of the half – an acrobatic scissor-kick from Mirallas after good link up play between Coleman and Lukaku on the right. The ball drifted well wide.
Mirallas was much closer with a direct free-kick in the 71st minute. His well struck effort curled over the wall and over the bar but at least it was a rare bit of excitement for the supporters. The second period was bereft of quality as both sides laboured.
West Brom equalised in the 75th minute and it was difficult to suggest that they didn’t deserve it. Anichebe held up the ball inside the Everton box allowing James Morrison to centre for Lugano to dive in and head past Howard.
Pepe Mel’s charges had their tails up now and things got worse for Roberto Martinez when in-form Seamus Coleman limped off clutching his thigh with twelve minutes to go. John Stones came on to replace the Irishman and then Aiden McGeady entered the fray for his Everton debut with Oviedo making way.
McGeady showed some nice touches during his late cameo but neither side could effect a winning goal.