FA Cup: Late Romelu Lukaku Strike Saves Everton

Updated: 07 January 2015 13:04 IST

Romelu Lukaku scored a late goal against West Ham United to earn a FA Cup replay.

FA Cup: Late Romelu Lukaku Strike Saves Everton
Romelu Lukaku celebrates after scoring in FA Cup. © AFP

Romelu Lukaku's late equaliser earned Everton an FA Cup replay against West Ham United and took the heat off manager Roberto Martinez following a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.

Martinez had been under growing pressure following a disappointing run of form which had seen Everton lose their last four matches heading into this third-round tie.

And Hammers defender James Collins looked like he had secured safe passage to the fourth round for his side, and a meeting against either Doncaster or Bristol City, with a second-half header.

But Belgium striker Lukaku popped up in injury time to finish from close range, ensuring the Toffees players and Martinez left the pitch to cheers rather than jeers.

Everton were without left-back Leighton Baines, who had picked up a minor knock, as Martinez picked arguably his strongest team, spearheaded by an attacking triumvirate of Kevin Mirallas, Steven Naismith and Ross Barkley behind Lukaku.

West Ham were without striker Andy Carroll as Sam Allardyce made four changes to his starting line-up.

After a subdued start Everton started to find their rhythm and Lukaku saw a long-range shot spilled by West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, but Mirallas was unable to profit from the rebound.

The Toffees certainly did not look, initially at least, like a team who had lost their previous four matches as they stroked the ball about with confidence.

Naismith cleverly dropped into spaces in central areas and created a shooting opportunity for himself in the 20th minute but saw his low effort from distance flash just past the post.

Everton then had two chances in a matter of minutes as Lukaku's shot went just wide of the far post and Naismith went even closer with an attempt from a still tighter angle.

However, the root of Everton's problems have been defensive rather than in the final third of the pitch, with 33 goals in the Premier League conceded this season.

And the nerves of the home supporters in the Gwladys Street were palpable when West Ham forced a succession of corners on the half-hour mark. It was a warning for what was to come later.

Lukaku seemed particularly fired up for the encounter and the ferocity of his shot on the stroke of half-time once again saw Adrian spill the ball, although Everton were unable to capitalise.

West Ham showed much greater ambition early in the second period and Carl Jenkinson's marauding run culminated with a low shot which Joel Robles beat away at his near post.

The Hammers sensed the tension in the Everton ranks and the opening goal duly arrived when Collins capitalised on some lacklustre home defending at a corner.

Muhamed Besic and Naismith failed to see the run of Wales international Collins, who beat them at the near post to head in Morgan Amalfitano's delivery.

Allardyce's side could have been two goals to the good moments later when Kevin Nolan lifted a ball into the box for Enner Valencia, again unmarked, but his header was tipped over by Robles.

The Toffees had the majority of the play in the remainder of the contest and Barkley's brilliant solo run five minutes from time almost got the leveller, but Adrian pawed away the England international's shot, which had seemed destined for the top-left corner.

However, the home faithful got the equaliser they had been crying out for when Bryan Oviedo crossed into the area for Lukaku, who took a touch before smashing the ball past Adrian from close range.

Topics : Romelu Lukaku Everton Football
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