Everton gave their departing manager David Moyes the perfect send-off with a convincing victory over West Ham in his final match at Goodison Park.
The result was secured by Kevin Mirallas’s eighth and ninth league goals of the season and guarantees Everton sixth place and that they will be looking down on the *****.
The Belgian forward finished off a flowing team move to give Everton the perfect start after six minutes, before a deflected second-half effort gave Moyes the victory he was so desperate to secure in his penultimate game in charge.
At the final whistle, the 50-year-old Scot, who will become Manchester United manager on 1 July, was serenaded by all corners of the stadium after a final flourish that went very much to the script.
Anything but a home win would have felt inadequate on a day the blue half of Merseyside came to say goodbye to their manager of 11 years.
he rousing and emotional pre-match send-off was acknowledged by Moyes with a simple wave to all four stands at Goodison Park.
But the only tribute the Everton manager really cared about was the performance, and his team knew it.
Everton, driven on by the midfield leadership of Leon Osman, the tireless running of Steven Pienaar and the ruthless finishing of Mirallas thoroughly deserved their victory.
There was exemplary work-rate and ambition throughout the team with their manager barking instructions and celebrating goals with as much passion as ever. Visitors West Ham offered little, save for two efforts by Kevin Nolan and one from former Liverpool midfielder Joe Cole.
Everton could have been ahead as early as the fourth minute, only for Sylvain Distin to head Marouane Fellaini’s cushioned header narrowly wide. Focused and fluent, the hosts immediately clicked into top gear, carving out clever openings and bombarding the West Ham goal.
Goodison could sense a goal and it arrived just two minutes later. Leighton Baines raced into space down the left and flicked the ball to a charging Fellaini. The Belgian midfielder found Pienaar with a clever flick, who in turn found Mirallas and his piercing low shot fizzed beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the net.
With Moyes standing guard on the edge of his technical area, living through every moment just as he had done for the past decade and more, Everton snapped into every challenge and zipped every pass around the slick Goodison turf.
They might have doubled their lead midway through the first half when Mirallas wiggled his way through the West Ham penalty box and steered a shot goalwards. His effort ran to Victor Anichebe, but the Nigerian’s point-blank effort was saved by Jaaskelainen.
Having been outplayed for much of the opening 30 minutes, West Ham gradually began to warm to their task.
Nolan twice went close in the space of five minutes, Tim Howard making one tremendous save low to his left, but that was to be as good as it got for the visitors.
The hosts, meanwhile, continued to threaten. Fellaini was denied by James Collins’s timely intervention and Mirallas sliced narrowly wide as the game approached the hour mark.
Goodison responded with a wall of noise that lifted the players and delivered the second goal.
Mirallas was a constant danger to the West Ham defence and it was he again who drove for goal before unleashing a shot from 25 yards that deflected off the excellent Collins and bounced up and over the despairing dive of Jaaskelainen to double the lead.
Briefly Everton threatened to overrun the Hammers. Osman twice went close, Jaaskelainen denying the England international with a wonderful save low to his right before Pienaar fired another effort narrowly wide. Anichebe should have done better with a near-post header but it mattered not.
The Blue Union MoM was Kevin Mirallas, the Belgian ruthlessly finishing some great attacking playing from the Blues.
By Ken Billwright