Everton scramble crucial win over West Ham to take pressure off Frank Lampard

Neal Maupay's goal is enough to secure first win of season

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Neal Maupay’s first goal since February saw Everton’s summer signing end the club’s winless start to the season with a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers West Ham.

The Frenchman, who has scored in all three of his Premier League starts against the Hammers, struck with a well-taken goal that was a rare highlight in a match between two teams who have endured difficult starts.

His goal made light of the continued absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has not featured this season because of a knee injury on the eve of the campaign, after Frank Lampard erred on the side of caution by giving him until after the international break to regain full fitness.

Initially that was at the expense of any attacking threat with Maupay relatively anonymous, Demarai Gray off his game and even Anthony Gordon, their one bright spark so far, struggling to make his mark.

In fact, only Idrissa Gana Gueye, on his first start since returning to the club from Paris St Germain in the summer, provided any real class with his reading of the game in a poor first half.

But when your defensive midfielder, a week away from his 33rd birthday, is the best player in a team that had scored only four league goals against opponents who had managed three, it highlights the issues Lampard has going forward.

"The reality is we’ve worked hard this season and deserved more. Our fans are amazing," Lampard said after the match.

"To hold on, fight, dig in, we showed a lot of parts. We’ll get better. This team has to be a reflection of the fans. The passion of the fans, they demand things and they’d better see them. We have players who can deliver that, characters.

"Hopefully our football can get even better. Hopefully the fans are happy. Nobody is getting carried away. At the moment there's a decent feeling around the place."

West Ham, who started the match one place below their hosts in 18th, were hardly any better even after back-to-back Europa Conference League wins as they had the only two shots on target of six in the first half.

Jarrod Bowen’s early cross was somehow diverted around the near post by Conor Coady, captaining the side in the absence of the injured Jordan Pickford, as the former Wolves centre-back continues to add a sense of control and calmness to what was a chaotic defence last season.

Even a booking for hauling down Michail Antonio on halfway line failed to ruffle the England international as he completed the remaining hour with little concern.

Neither side looked capable of scoring until Maupay struck in the 53rd minute with a goal out of nowhere.

Alex Iwobi threaded a pass through the tightest of gaps between Declan Rice and Kurt Zouma and the ex-Brighton forward’s first touch teed up the ball for a low volley past Lukasz Fabianski.

Former Everton boss David Moyes immediately sent on Maxwel Cornet and Said Benrahma and from there it was a test of the Toffees’ resilience, which had been a major weakness in their battle against relegation last season.

Tomas Soucek flashed a header across goal but Coady and fellow new arrival James Tarkowski are made for such situations, not only for their defensive capabilities but their leadership qualities.

However, even they needed help from a post to keep out Benrahma’s curling shot, which left Pickford’s deputy Asmir Begovic rooted to the spot.

But the goalkeeper was more active in saving from Cornet late on, with the Hammers forward also squeezing a shot wide as the visitors pressed but failed to find the equaliser.

West Ham boss Moyes said: "We picked up after they scored but before that not very good. The first half was a poor game all round but we didn't get the result.

"We had a game on Thursday night and we are trying to put new players in and find out a bit about them. But it was mainly the players I know about that let me down today with play overall.

"The players who played last year are down on their level as well. We have shown signs we were getting back to it but I don't think we did today. When we got anything in the final third it was nearly always the wrong decision. We probably missed a few big chances."

Updated: September 18, 2022, 4:10 PM