Everton earned a deserved three points against West Ham United, but the match was marred by some incredibly poor officiating, with a goal ruled out for no reason and two spectacularly incorrect red card decisions.
Everton emerged from Upton Park with a bizarre 2-1 victory against West Ham that was marked mostly by astonishingly poor officiating. We had a goal incorrectly ruled out for a non-existent foul and two straight red cards for fouls that didn't even warrant yellow, but ultimately justice was more or less done with the deserving team picking up the full points.
The Toffees were all over their hosts in the opening exchanges. Leon Osman looked to have put the visitors ahead when he got up over James Collins (which should be the source of no small embarrassment for the Hammers centre back) and headed past Jussi Jaaskelainen, but the linesman quickly declared the play dead for a nonsense holding call against Victor Anichebe.
Everton were suitably apoplectic, and their mood only darkened when John Heitenga contrived to get himself turned inside out by Carlton Cole, allowing the striker time and space to slot past Tim Howard at the top of the box. That goal was West Ham's only real scoring opportunity of the half, but the Toffees didn't have it much better either with a set of speculative efforts from outside the box (and the Osman brouhaha, of course) all they had to show for dominating possession at the interval.
That changed quickly in the second half, with Nikica Jelavic quickly getting a great chance only to shoot straight at Jaaskelainen from point-blank range. Darron Gibson then came close with a free kick that curled into the side netting before Jelavic nearly scrambled the ball in after a mess in the hosts' box.
But Everton committing bodies forward gave the Hammers space to break into, and they should have gone 2-0 up after Carlton Cole beat Heitinga and crossed for Mobida Maiga, who made a complete mess of his shot and allowed Sylvan Distin to deflect behind for a... goal kick.
And the hosts were made to pay for their mistake when the Toffees drew level in the 64th minute. Slack marking by Collins on a cross was once again a problem for West Ham, and Anichebe made up for his part in getting Osman's first-half effort ruled out by glancing Steven Pienaar's delivery into the back of the net.
There was more bad news for the Hammers thanks to a bizarre refereeing decision. Cole, who'd been excellent, attempted to control a high ball with his foot and didn't realise that Leighton Baines was closing him down. Baines ended up running straight into Cole's studs, taking a raking down the arm and then bouncing straight back up again. Everyone involved was utterly flabbergasted when Anthony Taylor reached into his pocket for a red card.
Everton were quick to take advantage of Cole's dismissal. Pienaar and Osman combined on the left side of Jaaskelainen's box. The latter drove towards Collins and his low cross ended up deflecting through a tangle of legs -- it was probably a Matty Taylor own goal -- and trickled over the line to make it 2-1.
From then on, the match was pretty comfortable for the visitors. But that doesn't mean there was no further controversy as Taylor dismissed Gibson for a virtually identical challenge to Cole's earlier offence. The midfielder was shown red as well, which prompted the amusing spectacle of the home supporters booing the referee for reducing the away side to ten men.
At least they had fun losing, I suppose?