Everton missed the chance to go a point behind local rivals Liverpool at the top of the Premier League as Tomas Soucek’s late strike earned West Ham a 1-0 win at Goodison Park on Friday.
In a disappointing game of few chances, Soucek was in the right place to stab home Aaron Cresswell’s deflected shot four minutes from time as David Moyes enjoyed a winning return to his former club.
Victory for the Hammers moves them to within three points of third despite sitting 10th in the table.
Everton on the other hand were left to rue a huge missed opportunity to bolster their European credentials.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men had enjoyed nearly a week off after their clash with Manchester City on Monday was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak among the City squad.
Ancelotti was able to welcome back Richarlison from a concussion and James Rodriguez made his return from injury off the bench in the second-half, but the Toffees rarely put West Ham stand-in goalkeeper Darren Randolph under any pressure.
The visitors had the best chance of the first-half when another Cresswell shot flew across goal and this time beyond Jarrod Bowen at the back post.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a hat-trick when the sides met in the League Cup in September, but the England international was largely anonymous.
West Ham were playing for the third time in six days, yet it was Moyes’s men who ended the game stronger and grabbed the late winner.
Soucek’s goals from midfield have played a big part in his side’s success this season and the Czech international scored for the fourth time in seven games when Cresswell’s effort broke kindly to him.
Later, Manchester United have the chance to move level on points with Liverpool when they host in-form Aston Villa, who could go third with victory at Old Trafford.