The front-row desk of the press box here took a second-half pounding from the fists of Slaven Bilic, sent to the stands over his furious reaction to the incident that guided Everton and West Brom to opposite ends of the table. His team took one, too, from the precision of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and vision of James Rodríguez, as Carlo Ancelotti maintained his perfect start in his first full season as Everton manager.
Calvert-Lewin recorded the first hat-trick of his Everton career as he continued his own fine start to a campaign that opened with his winner at Tottenham last Sunday. James scored his first goal in English football since his move from Real Madrid and illuminated the afternoon with touches of genuine class. He was also involved in the moment that turned everything when, seconds after sweeping Everton ahead, he collapsed to the ground after taking a shove in the face from Kieran Gibbs.
The foolish left-back could have no complaints over the red card that followed from the referee, Mike Dean. Bilic concurred, but only long after berating the match official and receiving a red card for his own protests. Until Gibbs’s dismissal the visitors had impressed but they were inevitably besieged thereafter, hence the repeated second-half thump of Croatian fist on Goodison wood.
“The analysis guys told me it was a foul for us before their first goal,” said Bilic. “As a manager I should be in a situation to ask the referee what’s going on. It’s not like the game was going on, it was half-time – nobody was around. I didn’t swear. I asked him in a frustrated way but I didn’t go over the line. But he just ignored me and gave me red.
“I told him if you want to kill us, kill us. That’s all. But we only have ourselves to blame. To be 2-1 down and a man down after that first half was very frustrating.”
Albion started dangerously and opened the scoring courtesy of an excellent goal from Grady Diangana, who showed exactly why Mark Noble and West Ham fans were incensed at his £18m sale when Matheus Pereira intercepted James’s attempted pass to André Gomes. Diangana took over, 70 yards from goal but with the clear intention of heading straight for it, a decision aided by Yerry Mina backing off the entire way. The winger accepted the invitation to shoot from the edge of the area and beat Jordan Pickford with ease.
Sharp, incisive link-up play from Pereira, Diangana and Callum Robinson posed a constant threat and Albion almost doubled their lead when Jake Livermore struck a post. Everton, who could have established an early lead when Calvert-Lewin headed wide from the first of nine first-half corners, wrestled back the initiative patiently and with clear purpose.
Calvert-Lewin’s quick-thinking brought Everton deservedly level although they were indebted to VAR. The striker was initially given offside when he back-heeled past Sam Johnstone after Séamus Coleman’s cross appeared to be headed into his path by Richarlison. VAR confirmed it was the Albion right-back, Darnell Furlong, who diverted the cross towards the goal, not the Brazilian, and the equaliser was awarded following a lengthy review.
Then came another reminder of James’s enduring class. This time Richarlison did supply the assist, finding the Colombia international lurking in space outside the area. James took two touches to control and set himself for a shot, then a third to sweep a superb finish inside Johnstone’s right post.
Moments later came the flashpoint with Gibbs and Everton were in control. “James’s goal was key,” said Ancelotti. “He is showing the quality I saw from him in Madrid and in Munich.”
Bilic showed no emotion in the press box when the impressive Pereira brought the 10 men level with a stunning free‑kick from 25 yards, curled into the top corner after a foul by Allan. He knew the task that lay ahead and three Everton goals in the space of 12 second-half minutes realised the Croat’s worst fears.
Michael Keane restored Everton’s lead when he prodded home the rebound after Johnstone parried Richarlison’s header from a Lucas Digne free-kick into his path. Calvert-Lewin claimed his second, and Everton’s fourth, when he slid in to convert Richarlison’s volley across goal after the Brazilian had been released inside the area by a beautiful James chip.
The striker’s hat-trick, and fourth goal of the fledgling season, went in off his shoulder as he attempted to convert another Digne free-kick with an awkward header.