27 Aug 2016 17:00:30
The veteran saw Leighton Baines’ penalty smash against the post and into the net off his own head, and it was the only goal of the game as Lukaku failed to trouble the scorers
Everton continued their unbeaten start to life under Ronald Koeman with a 1-0 Premier League win over Stoke City at Goodison Park.
Koeman’s men were in the ascendancy for long periods and worthy of the points, even if the decisive goal arrived in controversial and fortuitous circumstances.
Referee Michael Oliver felt Phil Bardsley’s contact with Ashley Williams on a dash towards a near-post corner was enough to merit a penalty, presenting Leighton Baines with a golden opportunity to put Everton ahead.
The left-back has produced better attempts from 12 yards and veteran Stoke goalkeeper Shay Given sprung to his left to tip the ball against the base of his left post, only for it to cannon back into his head and in.
As he did after last weekend’s 4-1 home loss to Manchester City, Stoke boss Mark Hughes is likely to lament the official’s decision, but this was another uninspired showing from his team, who have a solitary point against their name having won just two of their final 10 matches last season
Everton, who handed full Premier League debuts to recent arrivals Williams and Yannick Bolasie, started on the front foot as Kevin Mirallas shimmied in from the right to call Given into action with an early drive.
Ryan Shawcross allowed Romelu Lukaku to dart in behind him on to Williams’ long ball, but the Stoke captain atoned for his lapse by clearing the resulting shot off the line.
Stoke required a more acrobatic clearance in the 24th minute to deny Williams, with Peter Crouch’s long limbs coming in handy to hook a goal-bound header to safety.
Ross Barkley and Mirallas combined to create that chance from a short corner and the duo linked up once more for the Belgium international to engineer space before pivoting to blast a shot that Given pushed over.
Mason Holgate flashed a delivery across the six-yard box five minutes before the break, just beyond the on-rushing Barkley as Everton again missed out on the goal their endeavours deserved.
Lukaku, making a first Premier League start of the season after going 12 matches without scoring for Everton, almost ended his lengthy drought in the 49th minute – combining with Holgate before being denied by a brilliant Shawcross block.
But double misfortune then struck for the visitors, when Bardsley and Williams came together at the resulting corner and the luckless Given failed to keep out Baines’ spot-kick.
Goalkeeper and crossbar proved a more favourable combination for the home faithful in the 58th minute when Marko Arnautovic bundled into space in the Everton box, but Maarten Stekelenburg got enough of a touch for the ball to ricochet to safety.
Given parried to thwart Barkley and Stoke’s designs on an equaliser were leaving them increasingly exposed on the break.
England midfielder Barkey – who will have impressed watching national-team boss Sam Allardyce – then drove against the 40-year-old’s legs, while an errant pass from Arnautovic when substitute Jonathan Walters had the goal at his mercy meant Stoke’s best chance of an equaliser went begging.