Pepe Mel's first game in charge of West Bromwich Albion ended in a well-earned 1-1 draw against a tough Everton side at the hawthorns.
The former Real Betis manager took the reins for his first match and controversially selected striker Nicholas Anelka who is still in trouble over his quenelle gesture. The selection forced sponsors Zoopla to end their deal with the club.
The game also saw the return of Romelu Lukaku, last season's hawthorns hero.
The first half was very closely fought with both teams creating chances. Zoltan Gera came closest latching onto an Anelka through ball through the centre of the pitch and with his weaker left foot fired a tame shot straight at keeper Tim Howard.
The Baggies had a few more chances but it was Everton who undid all of their hard work with a simple goal.
With 35 minutes gone, defender Sylvain Distin lofted a long pass down the left hand side which was flicked inside by the Belgian Lukaku. His flick was picked up by his international team mate Kevin Mirallas. He then drove into the centre of the penalty area and tucked the ball inside of Ben Foster's near post to give the toffee's a harsh but deserved lead going Into the half time break.
At half time Mel substituted Matej Vydra for Victor Anichebe and they started the half with much more attacking intentions. The Nigerian was a constant nuisance throughout the second half and played a part in many of West Brom's chances.
Eventually after a long spell of pressure including a few good chances for West Brom, Everton's resistance was broken.
Anichebe chased down a through ball with 76 minutes gone and held it up just inside the penalty area on the right hand side. Midfielder James Morrison then took the ball off him and fired the ball Into the area where Argentinian defender Diego Lugano got across his man and headed the ball home at the near post to make it all square with the game heading into its late stages.
Everton had a great chance to win the match. With 90 minutes on the clock, they earned a free kick right by the left hand corner flag. England left back Leighton Baines took it. It was whipped in left footed and after ping ponging around in the box, it fell to Manchester City loanee Gareth Barry. His shot looked a certain goal but sadly Distin needlessly touched the ball into the net from an offside position so the game finished a 1-1 draw.
It was a good match despite all the off field controversy. Anelka was very influential in most of West Brom’s attacks and received a standing ovation from the home crowd when substituted for Saido Berahino on 77 minutes.
A draw was a fair result on reflection and Pepe Mel was happy with his team’s performance. The point leaves the Baggies four points above the drop zone.