West Brom 2-0 Everton

Gareth McAuley celebrates his West Bromwich Albion goal
Gareth McAuley celebrates his West Bromwich Albion goal

Unbeaten West Bromwich Albion recorded their best start to a Premier League season, ending Everton's 100% winning run in the process at The Hawthorns.

Baggies striker Shane Long swept in the close-range opener from substitute Peter Odemwingie's low left-wing cross.

And Gareth McAuley's thumping header sealed victory as Everton lost for the first time in 12 top-flight games.

Top scorer Marouane Fellaini slashed the Toffees' best chance wide just moments before Long's opener.

Republic of Ireland international Long also rattled the Everton crossbar with a crashing first-half header as Steve Clarke's men deservedly leapfrogged their opponents into third.

Everton have notoriously been slow starters in recent seasons but, after impressive wins against Manchester United and Aston Villa, were bidding for a third league victory in a row at the start of a campaign for the first time since 1993.

But Albion made it seven points from their opening three Premier League games with a well-earned triumph.

The reign of managerial novice Clarke, who was chosen to succeed Roy Hodgson in his first top appointment, has started with a wave of optimism.

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Second-half display pleases Clarke

And after a confident display against Everton, which followed a comfortable home win against Liverpool and a dramatic last-gasp draw at Tottenham, there is a feel-good factor around this part of the West Midlands.

Clarke, who enjoyed three wins against Everton as Liverpool assistant manager last season, showed he was not content to simply settle for a point when he introduced pacy attacker Odemwingie before the hour.

And the Nigerian used his speed to accelerate away from Everton right-back Tony Hibbert before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Long to convert from inside the six-yard box.

McAuley then lost his marker Fellaini to head in a right-wing corner from another of Clarke's substitutions, Chris Brunt, who was celebrating his 100th top-flight appearance.

Both teams were clearly oozing confidence after their promising starts and showed a swagger in the early stages, settling quickly into crisp, passing phases of play.

But there was a lack of incisiveness in the opening half-hour until only the woodwork denied Long heading Albion in front from Liam Ridgewell's cross.

The visitors were shaken into life by the let-off and within seconds almost scored themselves when Fellaini looped a header onto the roof of the Baggies net.

Then, he skewed substitute Kevin Mirallas's cross wide when unmarked in the home penalty area after the break.

It proved costly with Long and then McAuley netting to leave Baggies fans celebrating at the final whistle.

West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke:

"We started a little bit slow in the first half, even though we had the best two chances. I felt second half we were a little bit more adventurous and got our reward for that.

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First goal crucial - Moyes

"Everton are a difficult team to play against and we didn't want to open up too early against them. We showed a bit of respect to Everton in the first half - probably too much."

Everton manager David Moyes:

"We made changes to try and win the game, brought Kevin Mirallas on, opened up the game a bit more. We weren't playing well enough in the final third, but it didn't improve anything.

"We gave away a poor goal on the counter attack and if you concede first in the Premier League it becomes difficult.

"Maybe when it was 0-0 I should have said 'sit back and take 0-0'. Sometimes you make decisions and they work - sometimes they don't."

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